WELCOME TO THE month of December. Yule tide greetings as we traverse the last trimester of autumn.
So don’t despair, in only a few weeks good ol sol starts its northward trek back toward us on Dec. 21 at 2:23 p.m.
But as we sit in the throes of darkness, how about another plea (and some more information) on how to brighten up your home and yard?
First, indoors, there are numerous holiday plants that can bring joy, bloom and color inside.
• Mistletoe. Why not spice up the parties, bring about banter and laughter, and encourage some holiday wishes with a sprig or two of mistletoe hung around the house?
Its ornamental as well, with it’s shiny foliage and dainty white berries.
• Old stand-by. Poinsettias are the traditional Christmas favorite and come in a multitude of sizes and colors.
Red is a perennial choice, along with white and pink.
New varieties come in yellow, red, white and marbled, a gorgeous pink-and-white mix.
Glitter and sparkles also provide them with a wide range of festive looks.
Poinsettias are very cool sensitive, so keep them away from contact with cold window surfaces and cold drafty spots.
When transporting them on a cold day, try wrapping them in a light plastic garbage bag or secured in a box packet with newspaper to prevent them from shifting while also providing them protection for those few moments between warm home and warm vehicle.
Keep them uniformly moist because if they become dry, they will drop their leaves.
Try keeping a tray or saucer with pebbles underneath the pot so you can add humidity without having the pot sit directly in the water. This trick keeps them in tip-top shape.
• Amaryllis. This is most likely my favorite winter plant because it is just so stunning in appearance and so easy to grow.
You can find box starter kits available everywhere now and they make magnificent stocking stuffers. As a potted plant, bud in bloom, they are great party gifts.
• Paper whites. This is an old time favorite holiday plant every grandmother had around the house come winter.
Again, they are available in pre-packaged kits, double as great stocking stuffers and are perfect for the grandchild or school aged student to present to an older adult around the holidays.
They also serve as a wonderful “science project” for the little ones as they get to pot them up, water them and watch their labor grow and flower. Their scent is an added bonus.
• Christmas cacti. These are fantastic succulents that can live and rebloom for decades, and you most likely know someone who has an heirloom plant.
Christmas cacti have beautiful, long, pendulous blooms available in various pastel shades, making them a great gift that gives for years to come.
• Orchids. I just added this plant to the gift list this last week, but I need to re-emphasize their value again because of how attractive they are.
Orchids also last for a couple of months in the home and add real beauty to any room.
• Holiday scented arrangements. Made with great scented evergreen spice candles and holly, winter holiday arrangements deck out any party table or setting. Perfect to give to any host or hostess, family member or neighbor.
• Outdoors. Why not consider hanging lengths of evergreen garland strung with Christmas lights to chase away the nighttime blahs?
Consider a wreath or door swag as an option as well, and string lights around the doorway to brighten up your porch.
Many youth clubs and non-profit groups sell these now as a major source of their yearly fundraising efforts.
Decorate the yard and aid a charitable cause in the spirit of a holiday heart.
And, as always, please string one outdoor tree with lights or frame out a window with multiple strands.
If each of us can just put up a couple of light strings, what a beautiful place it will be.
Get a supply of vacuum bags ready because as the muddy boots dry out, leaves track in on wet shoes, Christmas tree needles begin to drop and visitors begin arriving, we’ll have our “home” work cut out for us in the weeks ahead.
Andrew May is an ornamental horticulturist who dreams of having Clallam and Jefferson counties nationally recognized as “Flower Peninsula USA.” Send him questions c/o Peninsula Daily News, P.O. Box 1330, Port Angeles, WA 98362, or email [email protected] (subject line: Andrew May).