All about December

Suggestion For December Planting of the Christmas Rose

Wednesday, June 9th, 2010

How much effective garden work can be done in December depends upon where you live. East of the Cascades in Washington, for example, the best thing to do is to curl up alongside the fireplace and confine garden activities to planning on paper. Down in the sun-kissed Mojave Desert, in such favorable growing spots as the 6,000-acre community of Apple Valley, however, gardening marches ahead all year long.

It never fails. Neither wind, rain nor frosty weather prevent the Christmas rose from blooming on schedule at holiday time each year. According to legend, this attractive perennial (not a rose at all) received its name because it first bloomed at the hour of the Christ Child’s birth.

Since Christmas roses are hardy in the West they do not need sheltered sites. Give lots of space because the clumps eventually spread to 2 or 3 feet or more. They resent disturbance and should be planted where they are to grow for a number of years. The plants are dormant in summer and push out their tough, leathery leaves in early fall. Plant any time from September 1 to April 1. Select a well-drained location in neither full sun nor dense shade and spade it 12 to 24 inches deep.

December is Time to Spruce up Garden Beds, Plant Spring-Flowering Bulbs

Wednesday, June 9th, 2010

Plant growth comes to a near halt in December, so it is a good time to spruce up flowerbeds and gardens and plant spring-flowering bulbs.

Plant Bulbs and Flowers: Plant bulbs including hyacinths, daffodils and tulips in 5″ to 6″ of soil. Plant hardy plants such as camellias and azaleas. Consider adding natural California wildflowers (desert bluebells, California poppies, mariposa lilies) to your flower garden for early spring blooms.

Clean Up Debris: Collect fallen leaves, clean up dead portions of perennials and vegetable plants and pinch back winter-blooming annuals so they produce more blooms. Place fallen leaves in flowerbeds as mulch to keep soil in place and prevent erosion during rain.

Be Water Aware: December can bring Southern California much rain or the month can be bone dry. Trees and plants need water, even when the weather cools. Warm, dry winds can still occur in December and will suck moisture from plants in as little as one day. Be ready to water your plants if the winds and heat come and rainstorms stay away.

10 Things to Do in the Garden in December

Wednesday, June 9th, 2010

1. Protect Your Tender Plants.

Ideally this would have already been done in November before the first frosts arrived (depending on where in the country you live), but December really is the last chance.

Fully tender plants should ideally be brought inside under cover – a frost free greenhouse, a conservatory, a porch, basically anywhere where the plants can continue to get light, but avoid the frost and harshest of the winter weather.

Half-hardy plants should also be brought inside if possible, but if it isn’t, give them a good covering of mulch to protect them. A good layer of bark-chips or straw will suffice for perennials that have died down, however, for larger plants, horticultural fleece is just the thing.

2. Renovate Hard Landscaping.

With the plants in the garden taking all your time during the Summer months, now is the perfect time to spruce up your hard landscaping. Give paths a good clean, particularly making sure you give a lot of attention to shaded areas where moss can make the path slippery.

December Thoughts

Wednesday, June 9th, 2010

December 1

“Life is too short to nurse one’s misery. Hurry across the lowlands, that you may spend more time on the mountaintops” (Phillips Brooks). Depression is the pits, literally. When we are crammed into our own little world because of illness or grief, we see things through the wrong end of the telescope. We need to hurry to the mountain with Jesus, and sit with Him as He tells us, “Blessed are those who mourn, for they will be comforted” (Matthew 5:4). There on that blessed New Testament Sinai, He tells us that our sorrow will turn into joy, and our tears will be wiped away. Come, let us rush through the lowlands of life to His elevation!

December 2

One tree prayed to be made into a beautiful palace; a second tree prayed to be made into a ship; a third tree wanted to remain in the forest and point to God. The first tree was made into a stable where the Babe was born; the second tree was made into a small ship that was launched on the Sea of Galilee, whereon stood a young Man who told the multitudes: “I have come that [you] may have life, and have it to the full” (John 10:10b); the third tree was made into a cross that ever since has been pointing us to God. In its way, each tree’s prayer was answered.

Michigan Gardens Offer Year Round Charm

Wednesday, June 9th, 2010

There are a surprising number of wonderful Michigan gardens that offer year-round plants to admire. In fact, the state of Michigan has many public gardens that have wonderful plants from hosta and roses to evergreens and herbs that offer an ever-changing display that varies with the seasons. If you love plants and flowers, consider taking a weekend to explore the many wonderful gardens in Michigan.

The temperate climate and proximity to the Great Lakes creates an exceptional environment for a wide variety of plants from semi-tropical blooms in the summer months to hardy flowers that peek out of the ground well into the winter months. Evergreens and holly offer plenty of color during even the coldest months. You should also check with the various botanical gardens to see what else they have to offer. Some of them offer special treats like decorated Christmas trees in December, garden mazes year round and miniature garden railways that will delight your entire family. Most public Michigan gardens are open year round, with the hours being more limited from November to April, although some may be closed during the winter months. Call ahead to confirm the hours before heading out.

Gardening in the First Week in December

Wednesday, June 9th, 2010

Contrary to popular opinion, there is still plenty to do both outside, inside, and not forgetting the greenhouse at this bleak time of year, with short days and long, sometimes very cold, nights.

In the garden, lift a few of the best of the hardy chrysanthemums in case of a stinging frost. The stools will provide useful cuttings, but wait until the end of the month before taking them.

Label the chrysanthemums, keeping the pinks and reds together and away from the bronze and orange, so labels should be tied to the stool stem.

If there was no opportunity of planting bulbs in October and November, it is worthwhile planting a few tulips or hyacinths for flowering in late spring, but make sure the bulbs are sound.

Inside your house keep your eye on the Indian azalea. Continental plants bought in October are usually pot-bound by now and are thirsty. Once dried out the peat soil is difficult to moisten, and the plant will show its resentment by dropping all its leaves. A soak in the bucket is often beneficial if rainwater is used.

The Gardener in the Third Week of December

Wednesday, June 9th, 2010

The first thing to do is to inspect fuchsias, hydrangeas and geraniums in their winter quarters to see that they do not dry out completely.

Garden shrubs continue to need your attention at this time of year. Have a care and a heart when cutting the holly for Christmas decorations, and don’t rob the shrubs of their natural beauty and habit. Take the branch that won’t be missed so that the tree is not disfigured.

Firm up the newcomers you planted recently after the frosts, and see that the stakes are doing their job. Tidy up for Christmas, but don’t let tidiness dominate your thoughts. The self-sown seedling may be a little out of place, don’t throw it away, but let it be.

There is more going on in the greenhouse this month than outdoors.

Large Exhibition chrysanthemum cuttings are best taken this month, and there is nothing to be gained in taking them earlier.

December in the Garden

Wednesday, June 9th, 2010

There is no reason why December should be the bleak, flowerless month it is in many gardens.

There are a number of winter-flowering plants and here the Christmas rose holds pride of place. The sculptured white blooms of Helleborus niger, sometimes tinted pink, is a masterpiece, with interesting, hand-like leather leaves.

The plant may be slow to settle down, but given semi-shade, a rich loamy soil that does not dry out, and a taste of manure in the spring, it will respond. The green corsicus, with clusters of dangling cups, the plum and purple H. atrorubens, and the Lenten rose hybrids are enchanting, when seen nodding together.

Iris unguicularis (syn. /. stylosa) from Algeria is another flower that no garden can afford to be without. I confess its foliage is untidy, but the lavender flowers that hide themselves in the tufts are beautiful. If picked in bud when they appear, resembling tightly rolled umbrellas, they will give a magic performance when brought into the warmth of a room.

This iris should be planted at the base of a sunny wall where it can stay undisturbed: poor soil discourages flowering.

What to Do With Your December – Garden Calendar

Wednesday, June 9th, 2010

In Northern United States and Canada

In many parts of the North it is not necessary, nor even desirable, to place Winter covering over plants until the latter part of December. Most surely don’t do this until the ground has frozen permanently to a depth of a few inches. Have on hand the materials you will need as coverings. Branches of discarded Christmas trees serve well for this work. They are particularly useful for covering low evergreen perennials. You may be able to obtain unsold trees from dealers immediately after the holiday.

You may prune Grapes now, unless you live in an extremely cold area. This is a good time, too, to attend to renovation pruning of old neglected and overgrown deciduous shrubs. This task can be continued, whenever the weather makes the work possible, until Spring. When Poinsettias are in full bloom drop the night temperature of the greenhouse to 55 degrees to harden them off and keep them in good condition for Christmas. Make sure that Christmas gift plants used in the house are kept well watered and are not subjected to drafts nor placed near radiators or other sources of dry heat.

In the South

End of December Gardening

Wednesday, June 9th, 2010

The herbaceous border may be tidied and digging between the plants may continue providing the ground is not waterlogged. You are however going to be more concerned with indoor plants than outdoor.

The ‘prepared’ hippeastrum, more often known as amaryllis, can now be started into growth. It makes an entertaining house plant, growing at a magical pace.

The modern hybrids are magnificent, bearing huge, funnel-shaped flowers from pink to crimson.

The hippeastrum that has flowered should be gradually dried off and put in a cool place to rest until started into growth again.This is a star turn that should not be missed, and so much nicer when grown by oneself, and not bought.

If the weather is agreeable, it is back outside where there is still time to spray roses and the soil with Bordeaux mixture, at 8 ounces per 2& 1/2 gallons of water, at 1 gallon per 7-10 square yards, against fungus diseases. A warning here, you must use a coarse nozzle on the spray. Do not spray with Bordeaux mixture in spring or summer, otherwise the leaves will be scorched.

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