In the Garden:
Southern California Coastal & Inland Valleys
December, 2008
Regional Report

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2960

Bring winter garden color indoors to help celebrate the holiday season.

Live Trees For Indoor Holiday Decorating

If you plan to decorate a live tree indoors and then move or plant it outdoors afterward, choose a smaller size of tree, as it'll adapt better than a more mature one. After you bring the tree home, water it well and store it in an unheated garage or outbuilding for two or three days as a "halfway spot" till you move it indoors. Keep the root ball moist and the boughs misted.

Once the tree is in place indoors away from heating vents or fireplaces, either water it directly or by scattering ice cubes around the soil surface to slowly seep down into the entire root ball. Limit its time indoors to a maximum of seven days; fewer if the house is very warm.

Move the tree outside again to the garage, shed, or other protected spot for at least two weeks before moving or planting it in the open. The longer you enjoy the tree in the warm house, the longer it will need to re-adapt to outdoor conditions.

Norfolk Island pines can become mini-Christmas trees, with their own tiny lights and ornaments. Provide each room in the house with its own individually decorated treec-- like cookie cutters hung with red ribbon bows for the kitchen. Other living plants for indoor color include African violets, azaleas, begonias, Christmas cactus, Christmas (Jerusalem) cherry, cyclamen, and kalanchoe, as well as the ever-dependable chrysanthemum and poinsettia. Be sure to give these living plants bright indirect light, keep them cool and out of drafts, and water them just enough to keep the potting mix barely moist. Cacti and succulents are also good choices, but they need direct sunlight and very little water.

Other Decorations from the Garden
The garden is a treasure trove of possibilities for holiday decorations. Pyracantha berries alternated with popcorn make attractive garlands. Oranges, lemons, or apples sprinkled with cinnamon or cardamom and stuck with whole cloves are delightfully fragrant pomander balls. Rose hips add bright red and orange colors to green wreaths. Vines from grapes, honeysuckle, wisteria, willow, or ivy will bend into many usable shapes. Eucalyptus pods, pine cones, acorns, and magnolia leaf clusters provide many shades of brown. Bufford's holly, which grows better here than the traditional variety, gives us stickery-leafed green with red berries. And, of course, the mistletoe.

Herbs, too, can trim yule logs, flavor jelly, give fragrance to clusters of twigs or wreaths and perfume the air in stove-top potpourris.


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