Gardening in December

We’re getting close to the official first day of winter on December 21st. We’re all decorating, baking, and planning for the two big holidays, Christmas and New Year’s Day. Then cold, dark January comes with low temperatures and for many locations, dreary gray skies. For many of us it means we’re going to end up spending most of our time snuggled up indoors cozy under a blanket. For those of you in more northern climates, you’ve already had snow and are in the winter season no matter what the calendar says. Now we’re in the huge Christmas rush. In another month, the holidays are over and the New Year is upon us.  Are you making resolutions for 2022? How about adding gardening to your list?

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Poinsettia & Angel Centerpiece

The poinsettia was brought to the United States from Mexico around 1828 by Joel Roberts Poinsett. An avid gardener and amateur botanist, Poinsett was appointed as the first US Minister to Mexico in 1825. While in Mexico, Poinsett observed this species flowering and sent plants back to his greenhouse in Charleston. Until that time, this species was unknown outside of its native range of Mexico and Guatemala, where it was referred to as flor de nochebuena (Christmas Eve flower). Once introduced to the U.S., it quickly gained the common name poinsettia, but is also known by many other common names including Christmas flower, Christmas star, lobster plant, painted leaf, and Mexican flame leaf.

This species has a reputation for being extremely poisonous. While there is little doubt that the milky latex of poinsettias can cause irritation to the skin, eyes, mucus membranes, or when consumed, to the digestive system, poinsettia is apparently one of the less toxic species of Euphorbia. Of reported human exposure, there were no fatalities.

Source:  The Neighborhood Gardner, University of Florida

Poinsettia is toxic to cats and dogs and causes gastric distress.

For the last few days, I’ve been adding vignettes to my home. Yesterday I arranged a poinsettia plant, a vintage light, and a cloth angel on the dining room table. It’s a farmhouse poinsettia & angel centerpiece.

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Advent Vignette 2022

I got my first Advent Wreath decades ago. It was a simple metal wreath with faux greenery and four calendar holders marking the four Sundays before Christmas.  Some Advent wreaths have a 5th white candle in the center for Christmas Day. Advent wreaths are an ancient tradition going back as far as Roman times. Today there are various customs according to several liturgical denominations involving the color of the candles and their significance.  On the first Sunday, a candle is lit and a prayer or scripture read. Snuff out the candle. Please don’t blow it out or the hot melted wax might spray. The next Sunday light the first and the second. Have a service and extinguish the candles. I like using LED lights without fear of fire. Each week light in order, the 1st, 2nd, 3rd,  until the last Sunday there are four candles burning. The candles do not have to burn down but can burn for your remembrance and be extinguished. If you want a Christmas Day candle, the four candles and a fifth white candle all are burning on Christmas.

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White & Turquoise Vignette For November

It’s the beginning of November, and most of us in the USA are thinking about our next big holiday, Thanksgiving. I’m thankful for all the wonderful people who visit my blog and celebrating the season with a white rose bouquet. There are also 2 little pink roses in the handful of white. I placed the small bouquet in a turquoise glass vase on one of my turquoise plates. I do love turquoise and also teal. They’re especially nice to use in the fall. Both go great with browns, tans, and even orange. This bouquet is just a pale group of flowers on a deep colored plate.

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Tropical Parking Lot Landscape

The other day I drove to my favorite Publix Supermarket here in central Florida. I noticed how nice the parking lot looked with great tropical foliage. Public landscaped areas are a great way to find easy to grow plants for your area. Owners of strip malls want to provide a pleasant environment for the customers, but they don’t want to spend big money on maintaining plants. Each row of parking spaces has a nice flower bed at the end with variegated leaf bushes, colorful crotons, and a plant with small blue flowers. The two types of bushes are tropical and easy to grow in our climate. Add a tree and a large light post and it’s perfect for the public location. (Government buildings and community buildings are also good places to note landscape plants. In more northern environments there is often a few evergreen bushes that provide a frame year round.)

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Frederick Meijer Gardens & Sculpture Park

1000 East Beltline Ave NE
Grand Rapids, MI 49525

Photos by Lisa & Robert Murphy

Frederik Meijer Gardens & Sculpture Park opened in April 1995 after 13 years of planning and fundraising by the West Michigan Horticultural Society. In 1990, Fred & Lena Meijer were asked by Betsy Borre for their support, and they embraced the concept of a major cultural attraction centering around horticulture & sculpture. The original vision has turned into a top cultural destination in the Midwest, known internationally for the quality of the art and gardens.

During the weekend of October 14 to 16th my nephew, Robert, and his wife, Lisa, had a short holiday in Grand Rapids, Michigan. They enjoyed several special events and spent a day at the Frederick Meijer Gardens & Sculpture Park. Thank you Robert and Lisa for sharing your photos from your visit to the Meijer Gardens. Let’s start with inside art.

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