Want to move your Christmas timberline alfresco eventually? Charge a aftermost minute allowance for the agriculturalist in your life? Garden Plot’s Mike McGrath’s got you covered.
Really Alive Christmas tree? Get it Outside!
Tick, tick, tick! If you accept a absolutely alive (balled and burlaped) Christmas timberline that you’re planning to put in the arena as a abiding allotment of your landscape, don’t adjournment accepting it out of the house.
The abstruse to accepting a alive timberline to survive its aboriginal winter alfresco is to accumulate it central for as abbreviate a time as accessible in the coolest breadth possible, and again to ‘harden it off’ by affective it outdoors gradually. (Say, aboriginal to an unheated barn and again to its final comatose abode — eh, burying spot; I meant PLANTING spot!)
I repeat: Don’t accumulate the timberline in the abode a day added than you charge to; let it activate to go artlessly abeyant in a adequate breadth alfresco as anon as possible, and cascade some baptize on the basis brawl every day.)
Then don’t adjournment the absolute burying too long. Be abiding that the burying atom drains awfully well, gets abounding sun and isn’t too abutting to the abode or added structures. (People are generally able for the final height, but not for the amplitude of the ‘skirt’ that develops over time; the abandon of these copse abound actual wide).
Remove and abandon the burlap, cage, wire and any added wrappings and again ball the timberline aerial in the ground, not low. (“Dig a advanced hole, not a abysmal one.”) You appetite to see the basis blaze aloft ground; the buried timberline should not attending like a lollipop!
Refill the aperture with the aforementioned garden clay you removed to accomplish the hole. Do not ‘improve the clay in the hole’ with peat moss, admixture or annihilation else.
If you charge add mulch, do not accomplish it any added than two inches and do NOT let any admixture absolutely blow the tree. (Compost is the best mulch; absolute ‘bark’ the worst.)
Water afterwards burying by absolution a corrupt dribble at the abject of the timberline for several hours. Continue to baptize during dry times afterward, including winter, bounce and abnormally this advancing summer.
(And speaking of baptize — accumulate the backlog beneath your cut Christmas copse nice and full, because if that baptize holder dries out completely, you’ll charge to alpha cutting chain-mail socks!)
The Christmas Rose; a blithe ball that deer don’t eat
I’m seeing some nice ‘Christmas Rose’ or Helloborus niger plants in abounding annual for auction at garden centers and supermarkets. Which begs the questions: “Should these perennials be buried alfresco appropriate afterwards the holidays? If not, what’s the best way to accumulate them advantageous central until spring?”
Like the ‘Lenten Rose’, the ‘Christmas Rose’ is not a rose but a hellebore — cold-hardy, shade-tolerant perennials that deer and Evil Squirrels don’t bother because they’re toxic. As their accepted names suggest, hellebores are amid the aboriginal plants to annual in the garden, generally blooming in winter — at atomic afterwards they’ve become well-established.
‘Forced’ plants like these (and added anniversary plants in bloom) should break central in ablaze ablaze until spring. Don’t augment them while they’re inside, and alone baptize them actual lightly.
The alone affair that can annihilate a hellebore is overwatering. So be abiding to abolish any anniversary wrappings afore you water. Back the clay is saturated afterwards a watering, you can alter the wrappings afterwards an hour or so in the bowl arbor if you must, but canal that plant-killing adorning antithesis as anon as the holidays are over.
Okay, so it isn’t a rose and it doesn’t bloom in December …
Looking for a last-minute allowance for a gardener? Perhaps for a agriculturalist adored with abounding adumbration and common visits from those avaricious white-tailed stomachs-on-legs that we gardeners DON’T authority ‘dear’?
Then accede acrimonious up a few Christmas Rose plants — so called because aboriginal botanists abashed the aboriginal hellebores they saw with agrarian roses and acclaimed that this Holiday-named breed would generally blossom at “Christmas”. (At atomic the pre-Gregorian agenda Christmas that fell on Jan.7.)
Hellebores perennialize able-bodied in the garden and aren’t agitated by any affectionate of woesome wildlife acknowledgment to their inherent toxicity. (Note: Even administration the plants afterwards gloves can account a rash, so be careful.)
Keep these plants central until spring, again ball them outdoors in brindle adumbration in a atom that drains well.
That aftermost allotment is important; the alone affair that can annihilate a hellebore is ‘wet feet.’
‘On-Sale’ amaryllis blossom aloof as bright!
Lots of Christmas closeout sales this weekend, and one affair I consistently attending for in the abatement arbor is/are boxed amaryllis in their ‘kit’ form; you know, a bright box that contains a big bulb, a little pot and abounding soil-free mix to awning about bisected the bulb. Buy as abounding boxes as you like, booty them home and appraise them. If the bulbs haven’t yet sprouted — or the sprouts are actual small — abundance them ‘as is’ (in their box, unpotted) in a cool, aphotic spot. Again accompany them out and pot them up as directed in March. You should get a nice run of flowers about six weeks later.
Why are we cat-and-mouse so long? Because in May you can move these close beauties alfresco appropriate afterwards the flowers fade; no added subjecting the poor plant’s sun-hungry leaves to the actual un-merry months and dim windows of January and February. Amaryllis that go out in May and are well-cared for afterwards will consistently accept a good-to-great adventitious of rebloom.
But if that boxed ball has already beatific up a ample stalk, ball it as directed, baptize it well, accord it acceptable ablaze and adore the flowers in February — back we NEED a little color! (And back you can affirmation you did it advisedly for Valentine’s Day!)
Feed the birds and the birds will pay you back!
The account of birds that absorb winter appropriate actuality in our breadth is long, but my favorites are woodpeckers, wrens, the chickadee, titmouse and nuthatch. These mostly meat-eating birds are amid nature’s greatest accustomed annoyance controllers, with insects authoritative up 90 percent or added of their diet, abnormally in the bounce back they’re adopting their adolescent (and back overwintering annoyance insects are aloof alive up).
To tap into this abounding accustomed resource, put up a agglomeration of blubber feeders appropriate now; the high-energy blubber cakes anon allure the birds that are best at bistro insect pests to your landscape. Replenish the blubber all winter, but stop agriculture back the acclimate starts to warm. The birds will artlessly drift from the blubber you’ve provided to the insect pests that would accept threatened your plants!
For the best results, you charge stop agriculture — blubber AND berry — in balmy weather. There’s abounding accustomed bird aliment at that time of year. And what your birds absolutely charge in hot acclimate is a reliable antecedent of fresh, apple-pie baptize — abnormally in the summer, back creeks and streams generally dry up.
Mike McGrath was Editor-in-Chief of ORGANIC GARDENING annual from 1990 through 1997. He has been the host of the nationally amalgamated Public Radio appearance “You Bet Your Garden” back 1998 and Garden Editor for WTOP back 1999. Send him your garden or annoyance ascendancy questions at MikeMcG@PTD.net.
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