Shady Way Gardens Bits and Briefs December 2001


By December, the gardening arena gets pretty boring.  No pruning, no fertilizing, very little watering, maybe some weeding.  You can plant things now but they won't grow much.  Pansy, Viola, Stock, Calendula, Alyssum will continue to bloom through the cold months, but Petunia flowers and buds will freeze if not protected, although the plants themselves are quite frost hardy.  Geraniums must be protected from frost.  Freezing weather may or may not occur in December but be prepared to protect the following plants: all varieties of Natal Plum, Lantana, Hibiscus, Bougainvillea, Ficus, Cape Honeysuckle, Ruellia, Dwarf Oleander, Tomato, Peppers, Citrus (especially Limes, Lemons and young trees). Protection from frost includes any overhead structures such as patios, eves, bigger plants etc.  Simply covering plants with any cloth, paper, burlap, frost cloth (using clothes pins) will trap heat rising from the ground which is usually warmer than the air.  Plants growing by any walls or structures are less likely to freeze.  Because cold air flows into and settles in low areas, you can have the same type of plant freeze in one part of your yard and remain unscathed in another part.  The worst nights are clear with no air movement.  Any breeze or cloud cover will lessen chances of frost damage.


The bright green shrub with the lovely white fluff that you see in natural desert, roadsides and washes is Desert Broom (Baccharis sarothroides), a southwest native.  Folks, this plant is ironclad and is much maligned because its offspring are also ironclad.  The beautiful fluff blowing in the wind will turn into millions of seedlings in any moist soil.  If left to grow they will overtake any area.  Male and female flowers are on separate plants.  Sometimes you can purchase male plants to avoid the seedling problem.  They do make good erosion control plants and provide cover for wildlife.


Since we're not doing much in the garden, we may be doing something else apropos to the season-SHOPPING! Maybe even for plants.  Anyone who has ever been shopping with a man or with a woman knows this: RARELY THE 'TWAIN SHALL MEET! (Ladies, men won't read this stuff.  If you want to share you'll have to read it out loud).  For a woman, shopping with a man is an out of body experience - as in, Everybody get out of my way!  He has a goal.  Uses strategy. Goes in fast and low.  Spots an object. Grabs it.  Maneuvers quickly out. Pays.  Its done!.  For a man, shopping with a woman is a mind altering experience - as in, You're driving me out of my mind!  She has a vision.  She eagerly anticipates looking at and pondering over the many selections and how they might fit in with this vision.  When viewing the selections, she wants to discuss with others the vision itself and the many variables of how the selections will fit in with this vision.  If the selection is not quite right she eagerly anticipates going somewhere else.  At any given moment she might spot something not related to the initial vision.  "Oh, look at this! I'll bet I could use this for...(another vision)."  No rushing, strolling down the aisles, chatting, mind flowing free, contemplating, enjoying the array of products that could fit in with any number of visions.  Going home without the intended product is no big deal; it's just an opportunity for more shopping later!

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Web Comments September 13, 2004 Shady Way Nursery 2004