There is nothing like the fragrance of a garden center filled with evergreens. When the sap is still running through freshly cut firs the fragrance is even stronger than in the forest where they were grown. This year’s harvest of trees carries this customary smell but this year’s crop is really impressive because of the cooler than normal weather this spring. It has produced trees that have better-layering and tighter needles with great color.
Christmas tree lots have been stocking up for this weekend’s rush of spirited patrons. All week I have been pushing crews to get the last of my Christmas trees cut, wrapped, and loaded into the truck. At the same time, weather caused further delays to production of our handmade garlands and wreaths, which we like put together at the last minute so they are as fresh as possible. Coordinating the assembly and delivery of all the Christmas crops has made for a very stressful week. The final element of stress came when we found ourselves unloading hundreds of Christmas trees in bitter weather! However, looking at the mini forest stocked on our lot, we’re pleased to say that it was well worth the effort.
Cyclamen are the brightest cold weather holiday plants, their intensely fluorescent flowers hovering above distinctive foliage like colorful butterflies. They are most commonly used as indoor houseplants for winter-long color, but they like to be outdoors as well. My cyclamen have been prominently displayed in outdoor containers over a month and will continue to celebrate the season, out-of-doors, past the New Year. Try several this season for a colorful winter garden surprise.
"Orange Spice" is the name of the newest poinsettia to appear on the scene for Christmas. Not a true orange, but rather an intense red with orange overtones it screams: "I'm really special". If you’re tired of the traditional red and want a really different poinsettia for this year, I highly recommend this new Christmas plant.
Artificial trees are easy, long lasting, and very affordable these days, but they have one serious draw back: as they age they smell like plastics and dust. An easy remedy to this issue is to bring a forest scent into the room with fresh garlands, wreaths, and boughs. The secret to long-lasting aromatic greens is their freshness. Don't buy greens that have been exposed to sunlight for very long. Being exposed to dehydrating indoor climates in stores or warehouses will also dry out greens as heating and cooling sucks the moisture out of the foliage. You can tell they are dry by their color, which fades just before the needles begin to drop. Fresh garlands and wreaths can bring the freshness of the outdoors to any room, but they must be fresh.
To bring that fresh smell to an artificial tree I also like a spray potpourri called Seasons' 'Woodland Wreath'. Misted onto a fake tree it really brightens a room. Its scent lasts even longer when sprayed onto a pine cone displayed in the tree’s branches or simply laid at the base of the tree.
Stop by the garden center this week and I'll pour you a cup of Aspen mulling spiced hot cider, guaranteed to put you in the holiday spirit. Bring the kids and let them play in Santa's Christmas tree forest, take in all the animation, and enjoy all the fragrances of the season.
I’ll be covering these sparkling holiday plants with even more in-depth knowledge in this week’s radio program, "The Mountain Gardener". You are invited to tune in every Saturday from 11 to noon at KQNA 1130AM or 99.9FM. It’s an hour of enlightening, entertaining on-air gardening.
Until next week, I'll see you at the garden center, or maybe in the Christmas shop
Throughout the week Ken Lain is at Watters Garden Center, 1815 W. Iron Springs Road, Prescott, and can be contacted through his web site at www.wattersonline.com. Ken says, "My personal mission is to help local homeowners garden better in our mountain landscapes."