Regional Gardening Reports :: National Gardening Association

In the Garden:
Southwestern Deserts
December, 2005
Regional Report

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Masses of white flowers in a red "container" add to the holiday spirit.

Holiday Plantings

I started rounding up my holiday plants in November. No last-minute trips to the nursery for me this year. I love to fill the house with the color and fragrance of flowering plants.

Paper whites are my favorite holiday plant indulgence. The bulbs are easy to force, and the flowers provide intensely sweet fragrance that perfumes an entire room. The cheerful white blossoms blend with casual or formal holiday decor. I force paper whites in lots of small containers with just 1 or 2 bulbs each, so I can place them all around the house and enjoy them wherever I might be. I also like to plant them in clear glass to see the sturdy white roots twining through the pebbles. Succession planting every two weeks or so creates an extended bloom season into spring. However, if you haven't already done so, run out and buy bulbs now, as they disappear quickly in the stores.

Of course, poinsettias, amaryllis, and Christmas cacti are traditional favorites but it's fun to mix things up a little, too. Take a stroll through your local nursery and see what catches your eye. I saw the most gorgeous ruby red geranium to snap up, although I didn't (yet) have anything to group it with. I like to fill white containers with masses of red flowers or red containers with masses of white. Red and white annuals pull double-duty: they enhance the festive atmosphere, and then continue to thrive into early May. Poinsettias, on the other hand, tend to look a little "leftover" by February.

There is one plant that I didn't get started in time for the holidays. I think it would be fun to shape a rosemary topiary Christmas tree. Even if it turned out to be lopsided, think how wonderfully aromatic all those trimmings would be! It's too late to create a topiary for this season, so I'll buy one. Looks like I'll be making a last-minute run to the nursery after all!

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