Upper South

December, 2006
Regional Report

Don't Forget Houseplants

Amidst all the holiday bustle, houseplants may be the last thing on your mind, but a little TLC now will prevent problems later. Houseplants that are kept evenly watered, fed monthly at half strength, and checked often for pests are less prone to major problems as winter progresses. As an added benefit to the plants, gently wash both sides of the foliage of large-leaved plants like philodendrons, dracaenas, and rubber plants at least once a month to keep the leaves functioning properly.

Reducing Snow and Ice Damage

Heavy snowfalls can break branches and spoil the shapes of plants. The best solution for this problem is to gently shake the snow off, either as it is falling or immediately after it stops. When an ice storm coats foliage and branches, leave the plants untouched, as moving the encased branches often damages them. If certain plants are particularly special, make preparations to protect them before storms hit.

Share Amaryllis and Paper Whites

Stores that sell holiday-packaged amaryllis and paper white narcissus often put them on sale now. This is a good opportunity to buy extras of these to share with others, especially shut-ins and children. Don't just hand them to people, but take the time to help get them started. Amaryllis provide the added benefit of reblooming in future years.

Count the Birds

If you missed out on this year's Christmas Bird Count (http://www.audubon.org/bird/cbc/), then make plans to participate in the Great Backyard Bird Count (http://www.birdsource.org/gbbc) that is coming up February 16-19, 2007. People of all ages and skill levels simply count the highest number of each species they see during an outing or sitting. In the meantime, visit eBird (http://ebird.org/content/), a joint project of the Audubon Society and the Cornell Laboratory of Ornithology as well as Cornell's Project Feeder Watch (http://www.birds.cornell.edu/pfw/overview/gbbcpfw.htm).

Read Something Fun

Of course to gardeners most gardening books are a delight, but, let's face it, some are more serious than others. So why not have a bit of frivolity? No better place to start than with the garden writing of Englishman Beverly Nichols. The first, Down the Garden Path, has been in print almost continuously since 1932. Five others were written in the fifties and sixties. All have been reprinted by Timber Press. For those who like mysteries, consider those focused on herbs by Susan Wittig Albert. She also has a series based on the life of Beatrix Potter.

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