In the Garden:
Western Mountains and High Plains
November, 2004
Regional Report

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Within a few weeks paper whites will burst into bloom with their distinctive fragrance.

Giving the Gifts of Nature

As the growing season winds down, gather a supply of seeds, nuts, twigs, vines, dried flowers and leaves, pinecones and other natural treasures. You can use these materials to create unique arrangements, wreaths, everlasting bouquets, Christmas ornaments and many other special gifts.

Using Nature's Gifts
Natural materials from the garden can be beautifully arranged in baskets, jars and pots. Children will even find it fun to be involved in these projects. They can glue a crust of seeds, nuts and dried leaves and flowers onto a straw wreath base or a Styrofoam ball or cone. These ready-made foundations can be purchased at most craft stores. It will take some patience to fully cover the foundation since you will have to add the pieces one at a time, so make it a family affair.

Making homemade gifts from Nature and combining them with rustic containers and antique garden tools will create one-of-a-kind decorations and special presents for the holidays or any other occasion.

A Gift of Flowering Plants
Don't forget about giving live plants that will keep on giving beyond the holiday season. Attractive containers of potted bulbs -- personalized for the recipient -- make wonderful gifts. Be creative in finding antique pots and unusual containers to accent the foliage and blossoms.

You can brighten the holidays with paper white narcissus (hybrids and varieties of Narcissus tazetta and N. papyraceus), some of the easiest bulbs to grow indoors. The fragrance of their blossoms will radiate through the air to remind us of spring.

Set paper white bulbs in potting soil or pebbles. Put them in a cool garage or basement for a few weeks after planting to allow for good root growth. Fertilizing is unnecessary. When the green shoots appear, place in a cool but bright windowsill and enjoy their cheery, graceful flowers.

The delicate and colorful blooms of begonias make them an ideal gift plant. Be sure to check out the selection at your local garden center. Today's begonia hybrids flower for most of the year, especially in cooler conditions. The rose-like flowers come in deep red, pink, yellow, salmon and orange. Grown in pretty pots, begonias make nice specimen plants, or you can group them in decorative containers.


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