Please click on the links below for gardening activities in December.
I bet you thought you were done with lawns for this season! In truth, you are if you have winterized and stored your mower (complete with cleanup, drained oil and gas, replaced spark plugs, oil and air filters).
Scale and Dormant Oil Treatment. Camellias, euonymus, ivy, in fact, most evergreen plants (broadleaf and needle, or scale leaf) can be infested with scale. We first notice a yellowing of the foliage. This occurs when the scale insect attaches itself to the leaf stems and branches near the leaves and then the backs of the leaves, inserts its little snout and sucks out nutrients from the plant. Step two is for the insect to lay its eggs on the plant and cover them with a smooth or fluffy whitish coating for safekeeping. Fortunately, this coating is easy to see and identify. It is distinct from the normal plant appearance and doesn't rub off.
Birds (and probably Squirrels)
The winter months give us time to appreciate wildlife in our gardens. Provide food and water and "They will come." Bird food now comes in specially formulated mixes to encourage certain species of birds over others. Read the labels! Also, some bird feeders are designed to work for certain species of birds and not others. There are even squirrel feeders. Do a little research before shopping if you are particular about which birds you feed.
Christmas Gifts for Gardeners
Gardening types are a blessing around Christmas time. It's always easier to find a gift for someone with a hobby, avocation, or obsession whichever the case may be. And, I don't believe there is a gardener alive who has everything.
A Live Christmas Tree
Enjoying a real Christmas tree in your home (not artificial) without taking on partial responsibility for having killed a tree is soul satisfying. To do so and successfully add a tree to your home landscape also eases the pangs in your wallet. It isn't an easy undertaking but it is possible if you follow these guidelines:
Cut Christmas Trees
Selecting a cut tree is usually a matter of personal aesthetics. You want the "perfect" tree, of course. You also want a fresh tree. Test for freshness by bending a major branch. It should be pliable and less than 5% of the needles should fall as you bend the branch. When you reach home with your purchase, cut 2" off the bottom of the trunk to re-open water channels. Immediately set the tree in a container which holds 1-2 quarts of water. Floral preservative, available at your garden center, added to the water will increase the longevity of your cut tree. The night before you bring the tree into the house, place it in your garage where partial heat will allow the branches to relax a bit . . . making it easier to decorate the next day. Do not allow the water in the tree stand to empty at any time. Cool temperature, indirect light, and sparing use of the tree lights will all help to preserve the beauty of your cut tree.
Collecting Christmas Greens
Northern Virginia is bountiful in its plant life. Southern Magnolia, Holly, Smilax or Jackson Vine, Ivy, Hemlock, Pine, Cryptomeria, Yew, Aucuba, Boxwood, Pyracantha and Nandina may all be pruned to provide Christmas greenery. There are a few points to remember when collecting these decorative materials: