Middle South

December, 2011
Regional Report

Cathch Up on Your Garden Journal

Before winter winds and precipitation completely obliterate what's left of the summer garden, take time to stroll around with your journal in hand, noting recent successes and failures. Jot down problem plants, especially those that attracted insects or suffered from disease, as well as those that reached super-star status. Complete your review with a list of ideas for next year, and a list of seeds and other supplies that will be needed before the growing season begins anew.

Give Cyclamen a Cold Shoulder

Cyclamen is popular winter house plants, but it won't last long in an over-heated room. It rather have a cold shoulder, favoring temperatures that range from 55 to 60 degrees. Place your cyclamen near a chilly window or in an unheated room or enclosed porch, keep it lightly moist but not soggy, and bring it out to star on special occasions such as a dinner party.

Enhance Ready-Made Wreaths

Dress up a faux evergreen wreath with natural cuttings and no one will know you've taken a short cut with your holiday decorations. Simply wire together bundles of mixed clippings, such as pine and magnolia, and tuck them among the artificial greenery before wiring them in place.

Discourage Deer

When the cold season arrives in force and food is less plentiful for wildlife, deer might come to call, but they can be discouraged from browsing if the garden contains a preponderance of unpalatable plants. In general, deer will avoid thorny and hairy plants, and those with a strong, unpleasant fragrance. A short list includes lamb's ears, lantana, foxglove, purple coneflower, marigold, yucca, boxwood, forsythia, barberry, butterfly bush, and holly.

Remove English Ivy

December is a good month to remove English ivy where it has grown out of bounds, especially on houses and trees. Ivy tendrils are not good for siding or the mortar in brick walls, and vines in trees may eventually cover too much foliage and cause the tree to die. If the ivy has already grown to great heights, cut through the vine at its base and the plant will slowly die and drop its leaves. It may take several years, however, for the vines to lose their grip.

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