Regional Gardening Reports :: National Gardening Association

In the Garden:
December, 2005
Regional Report

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As a recent transplant to LA, I have to settle for "canned" snow.

Goodbye Snow, Hello Tinseltown

Over the past five years or so, I have written December columns about the joys and tribulations of winter in the Mid-Atlantic region, those winters being both with and without snow. I have shared photos taken in my own Pennsylvania garden or snapped during my garden travels, mostly in the region but sometimes from a bit further afield. Often I have described the plants and creatures in my garden by the oak woods, surrounded by fields and teeming with wildlife ranging from deer and possums to wild turkeys, bats, bluebirds, and the incidental goldfish or frozen flamingo.

Some years, I have made suggestions about holiday gifts for gardeners -- homemade from the garden or storebought (still hoping for that palatial estate with conservatory and orangerie!) -- or shared my seasonal gardening to-do (and truth be told, the occasional shoulda-done) lists. I have highlighted tips, tricks, reminders, Web sites and books I thought you might find helpful, interesting, or amusing. Sometimes I've talked about my favorite plants based on how they performed for me in my garden, or on how I saw them doing in the region as I traveled up and down between New York city and Washington, DC.

Certainly as each year came to a close, I've wished everyone a peaceful and prosperous new year filled with good gardening. This time I take special pleasure in wishing you a terrific holiday season and a very happy new year, but also do so with some sadness, knowing that you will be enjoying the new year and the coming gardening seasons with a new regional editor.

It is time for me to say good-bye. It has been a privilege and a joy to write for you and I will miss it -- and you. But I agree with my editors that a Mid-Atlantic report should be written by someone in the region, and I no longer fit that description.

I am settling in southern California, where the weather is always perfect, where they are reduced to selling snow powder in a can in December and, in truly grand Hollywood style, blow generous quantities of (fake) snow off the rooftops on cue to produce a wintery effect for television. Tinseltown and I get along very well (I love the surreal three-stories-tall inflatable snowmen and am perfectly happy with the albeit ersatz but comfortably dry, warm, imitation snow), but I sure have a lot to learn about gardening here.

There is a terrific disconnect between seeing seasonal bedding schemes of cool-loving pansies and ornamental cabbage on one side of the street, and bright red poinsettias lined out in a mass planting beneath palm trees on the other side of the street. Or looking at what seem to be giant crab apples in a tree only to realize they are pomegranates. I won't mention the fruit-heavy citrus trees in every backyard, or the countless phenomenal hybrid tea roses thriving and blooming now, or the bougainvillea shrouding my front porch in a haze of purple.

This is a climate where Pyracantha thrives and surpasses any I have seen grown "back east" and where I did a double take to find a holly bush with bright red berries. Somehow this seemed an anomaly to me, despite it being December. How soon we adapt!

So, all the best to you and yours this December and always. May your New Year be peaceful, prosperous, bountiful, and fun -- both in the garden and out. I'll think of you every time I open my freezer. Rest assured, spring is on the way!

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