Regional Gardening Reports :: National Gardening Association

In the Garden:
Coastal and Tropical South
December, 2007
Regional Report

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A mixed container garden makes a welcome gift.

From My Yard and Yours

A handmade wreath gathered from the garden, or a mixed pot of colorful plants including some of your own make practical but fun last-minute gifts for gardeners.

Wreath-making starts with a sturdy base, either purchased or made from your own vines or sturdy evergreen branches. Shape the materials into two circles, one a bit smaller than the other. Set the smaller one inside its partner and wire them in place to create the wreath back. Thinner, florist wires have many uses in holiday decorating, including adding spine to soft cedar greens used to finish the wreath. Wire on orange persimmons or kumquats, sprigs of holly or mistletoe, add a bow and a card and deliver the same day.

Spraying Greens
My mother always cut nandinas in full leaf and berry to put in a vase shaped like Santa's boot. Take it from me: When working with thin-leaved natural materials like nandina, spray the fresh cut stems and leaves with hair spray to prolong their indoor life. Keeping the stems in water will help, but not as much. You won't need to spray other popular garden greenery such as magnolia and eleagnus, but wiping these evergreens with a leaf-shining product or a cloth dipped in milk will extend their life and shine indoors.

Painting Pods and Cones
If your materials won't bend easily, gather several stems of one or a mix of evergreens, even holly sasanqua branches in bloom. Wire them together at one end and attach a huge bow. Adorn it with plant materials dipped in gilt or sprayed bright red. Paint all or part of pinecones and magnolia cones. I'm fond of a white glop on the tip of each point on pine cones, one of many southern snow substitutes. Seedpods may look brown and uninteresting until you paint them. Whether it's okra painted to look like a long-bearded Santa, or rose hips dipped for golden stems, seedpods dress up for the holidays very well.

Garden centers and florists offer decorative pots already planted and ready for you to decorate with your harvest jewels. But if you're a propagator and have small rooted plants of any sort, your gifts await. Paint a little pot for ivy leaf philodendron or airplane plant, and top it with any stiff seedpod painted and glittered. You'll have last-minute gifts with great garden style.

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