The people's voice of reason

Potpourri for December

I just love Christmas music which increases the magical spirit this time of year. Jingle bells, ginger bread men and silver wrapped Hershey Kisses are just the ticket to amp up the joy and happiness for the season. From Thanksgiving to Christmas we all have an opportunity to increase our joy and bestow joy on our family and friends for Christmas and Hanukah.

It appears that Christmas just gets earlier and earlier. This year I saw Christmas ads and gifts with Christmas wrap before Halloween. One could say this was pushing the envelope, but, it could help to remind the slow pokes to make their lists and shop. But some of the best gifts include those made from the kitchen. For instance, I had a bountiful harvest of figs in October from the LSU purple fig that comes in over a matter of 6 weeks. Fig preserves canned in jars with colorful tops made out of plaid squares cut with pinking shears and tied with colorful ribbon around the lid. Also, fig pepper jelly makes a great topper for cream cheese. As I may have lamented last month that the pear trees did not have a good year, I managed to pick enough for jars of great pear chutney. All are resting on the pantry shelf to place in gift bags for magnificent appearances on friends' and neighbors' doors.

Another great gift is the gift of flowers.

Poinsettias today come in all shades from pink to red, to spotted and pepper mint, to solid red and white. Of course since they are potted, these will be long lasting. Some people think that because poinsettias are forced to bloom this time of year, that they can with stand cold weather. Not true as they are tropical For best results, keep indoors and do not over water.

I found at a garden center beautiful cyclamen just covered in red, peach, white, and pink blooms. This is an indoor plant in the winter and is long lived, at least a month. The purchase of narcissus bulbs would be a great investment. One can force them into bloom by placing the bulbs in a shallow bowl with some rocks and water, just covering the tips of the bulbs. Plus after they bloom, just plant into the garden and next year they will bloom. Remember to let the tops slowly yellow and die. When forcing, keep the water level about the same as we do not want to rot the bulb. With this addition to your home or for a friend, the scent is heavenly.

Next would be the Amaryllis bulbs which can be forced into bloom the exact same way. There are Amaryllis bulbs which are miniatures and I have had this shorter variety marching along the mantel of the fireplace in the living room. What a show stopping display they make.

If we scour the nurseries and garden centers, brighten up your flower beds with dianthus, pansies and dusty miller. I bought, just last week, a tray of the biggest white petunias I have ever seen. In the late fall and early winter, petunias can do well in outdoor pots, or in the garden beds in a protected area ( away from the wind), as they are truly a cool weather annual. They do have tolerance for the cold which bursts in this time of year. My petunias last year in outdoor pots survived freezing temps, but then I did tarp them when weather got below freezing levels. The other garden reminder is that is time to plant Asian lilies, sow poppy seeds and larkspur seeds. When sowing this seed, make sure the ground is bare of any mulch.



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