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Garden Ramblings, Issue #028
December 15, 2006
December 2006


Monthly Musings on the Garden Scene

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If you prefer, you can view this month's issue online where you can also subscribe if this copy has been forwarded to you by a friend. ***********************************************************

In this issue:

- Letter from the Editor
- Flower of the Month
- Christmas Decorations From Your Garden
- Great Gifts For The Avid Gardener
- Special Offers
- Tailpiece

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Hi

Welcome to the December issue of Garden Ramblings your monthly window on what's going on in the world of gardening.

As I have mentioned in recent issues I have been thinking about a new format for this newsletter but I thought I would leave Breck's "Flower of the Month" for one more time to round off the year.

There are two articles with a Christmas theme this month. The first looks at various ways of making decorations using materials from your garden. The second is a round up of gift suggestions in case you are still stuck for ideas on what to buy for your gardening friends.

The "Special Offers" slot is still here and there is news of a new gardening club.

If you want to keep up with all the news in the gardening world, you can read my blog Garden Supplies News.

Enjoy the issue.

Hugh

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Flower of the Month

You might have expected Breck's choice for December to have a Christmas theme and it is a holly, but not the traditional green variety. Blue Sea Holly though is a highly ornamental plant. The intense, icy blue and gray flowers are striking with long, pointed bracts that radiate out beneath the flower heads. Hollylike foliage also has a blue hue, gray markings and blue stems. Dazzling in arrangements and borders. Attractive to butterflies, too. Given full sun and any well-drained soil, it will flourish for years, growing upright to 30" tall and spreading 18-24". Here's the link.



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Christmas Decorations From Your Garden

While you can go out and buy all your christmas decorations it is often more fun to make your own with materials that are all to be found in your garden. After all many of the items you can buy in the shops are made from natural materials, so why not make your own?

Let's start with a wreath for the front door. Use springy twigs of dogwood or willow bound with florist's wire to form the circular frame, then dress with holly, ivy or whatever other greenery you prefer.

Indoors holly and ivy are my first choices for decorating everything from fireplaces to the banisters on your stairs. Ivy's long runners are ideal for this purpose, and sprigs of holly can be lodged behind pictures or placed on top of tall dressers and bookcases.

If you have any suitable shrubs such as bay or box growing in containers these can be brought inside for the holiday season. Provided you keep them in a cool room for a couple of days to allow time to acclimatise, they should be perfectly happy. Deck them with miniature white lights and they will make an attractive feature.

Unless you bought a rooted tree last year and planted it out after the holiday, you will probably have to buy the christmas tree itself, but there is endless scope for making the baubles to hang from its branches.

Star shapes can be fashioned from bendy twigs then sprayed with silver or gold paint. Thread rosehips on circles of wire. Collect interesting shaped seed heads such as poppy, honesty or teazle and use them to make more tree decorations. I have even heard of one lady who uses dried hydrangea blooms on her tree. Use some as they are, but for variety, color others with paint or spray snow.

Pine cones are perhaps one of the most useful of nature's gifts for use in homemade christmas decorations. Fill a large glass bowl with pine cones, add some red berries dusted with glitter and you have a striking feature that is so simple to make. Painted or plain, pinecones make ideal baubles to hang on the tree or as part of a table decoration. The cone shape is also ideal for making figures such as angels or santas.

Many of these ideas can be adapted for use outdoors, for instance, to make decorations to hang in the trees in your garden. Ice mobiles do need to be kept outside and you will need a cold climate for these. Leaves and berries frozen in jam jar lids and linked with string can be hung outside your windows to accompany the natural icicles.

If you're short on time then maybe these ideas are not for you, but there's no doubt that making some of your christmas decorations yourself will add to your enjoyment of the holiday season. ***********************************************************

Interlude - Enjoy the flowers but ignore the tent!

 

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Great Gifts For The Avid Gardener

Guest Author: R Birch

If there's a gardener on you list to buy for this holiday season you have quite a bit to choose from. Any gardener would appreciate reference guides or other garden related books. They'll also appreciate a quality garden tool or a bag to organize and carry them. Add décor to a yard with a garden accent such as a sundial. Allow your friends to keep their feet dry in the garden with a pair of clogs.

Pruners are an essential part of the gardener's tool collection. As a landscape professional, I know the value of well made garden tools. They're the difference between a pleasurable gardening experience and frustration. Qualities to look for in a pruner are reliable, sturdy construction and a soft grip.

Garden Bag Gift Sets are great way for the avid gardener to organize and carry tools. Since a garden bag carries sharp tools, choose one that is well made and easy to carry. Some garden bags will include some products to add to your collection of tools such as towels and hand rakes.

Garden clogs are wonderful since they provide protection for the gardener's feet while in the garden. Along with keeping feet dry, a pair of soft clogs are comfortable enough wear all day while working in the garden. Waterproof clogs are also easy to clean up.

Garden benches can transform someone's garden or patio into a sanctuary. They're great as they allow you rest and view the landscape. Choose a bench which will add character to the garden as well as a place to relax. Garden benches can be traditional or modern. Benches made from eco-friendly, weather-resistant wood are long lasting and age beautifully.

Birdbaths are an attractive way to enhance a garden or turn a backyard into a wildlife habitat. Depending on the type, birdbaths can either be hung from a branch of a tree or placed on a stand in the garden. Styles can vary from very simple and modern to ornate and decorative. If the water will freeze in the winter where you live, consider including an ice melting device so the birds have adequate water in the winter.

Sundials are classic garden decor. A decorative one, such as a Butterfly Sundial, is perfect for any garden. Decor such as this gives character to the garden and helps make it unique.

The American Horticultural Society A-Z Encyclopedia of Garden Plants is great for gardeners seeking specific plant information or general gardening advice. It covers 15,000 trees, shrubs, climbers, perennials, annuals, rock plants, bulbs, and succulents. It's an ideal reference guide for those who want descriptions of popular plant species.

Garden Gloves are essential when pruning roses, raspberries or other thorny shrubs. Look for gloves that provide a balance between dexterity and protection. Leather or canvas usually provide the best protection.

Gardeners are generally easy to please and patient. Any of the gifts listed above are sure to put a smile on their face.

About the author: R Birch is the publisher of http://www.GardenListings.com , a garden resource website. Visit http://www.GardenListings.com/Resources.htm for all kind of gardening advice.

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Special Offers

Two from last month are back again and a new gardening club.

Dutch Gardens have extended their free shipping offer which is now good until 27 December. This month they are featuring holiday gifts and top of the list is their stunning Furore Amaryllis Basket.

Dutch Gardens, Inc.

Last month it was a Huge Outlet Sale but now it's the Secret Santa Sale at Gardener's Supply Company. With up to 60% savings on over a hundred items it's well worth a look.

Brecks and Gurneys, two of the companies that are regulars in this section, have joined with a number of other firms to create Garden Solutions, a new gardening club which costs $14.95 for a year but then you get a 10% discount on all purchases from any of the nine member firms.

 

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Tailpiece

Flowers with a difference - a Coral Garden

 

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Please feel free to pass on this newsletter to your gardening friends. Do let me have your feedback and suggestions to: [email protected]

That's all until next month but in the meantime you can always look at my Blog Garden Supplies News

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