Holiday gardening can introduce seasonal color as well as rapturous fragrances into our homes. Surrounding ourselves with the natural beauty of flowers and plants helps us celebrate this very special time. And there is something so energizing about actually experiencing flowers that are intended to be planted and grow up as Christmas unfolds.
Plant an Amaryllis bulb and watch it burst from its bulb and grow seemingly overnight into a gorgeous display of luminous color that will last weeks and weeks with no more than an occasional watering. Or select a hyacinth bulb and place it in a bulb vase filled with water and enjoy a heavenly fragrance that wafts up at you as you pass. Or even more simple....give paper white narcissus bulbs an inch of water in a shallow pan and watch them yield aromatic clusters of charming white flowers atop slender stems.
Another holiday selection uniquely timed for seasonal festivities is the Christmas cactus. Loping stems with blossom-laden tips as if someone had decorated them especially for the celebration ahead. A bit of the tropics that blends perfectly with the fresh pine and fragrant cedar that fills our homes at this time of year.
Yuletide tradition, however, seems almost to demand the showy presence of a vibrantly colored poinsettia. And the choices now are vast...brilliant reds, elegant whites and subtle pinks, of course, but varieties like Peppermint and Plum Pudding , Marble and Monet are wonderful additions to a tremendous cast of characters...soft shades and interesting shapes abound.
To maximize your enjoyment keep the following checklist in mind:
•Select a healthy, crisp plant with strong, thick stems.
•Make sure that all of the leaves are a deep, healthy green.
•Look carefully at the cyathia for freshness (these are the golden yellow clusters in the center of the colored bract that are the actual flower of the poinsettia plant).
•And be aware of fading colors that are the indicator of a shortened life span.
Plants and flowers add smiles to our faces, a sense of well being to our lives, and a feeling of warmth to our homes. A small amount of care brings rewards aplenty.