Garden Themed Presents for the Holidays

Cachepot by HORM Design

Are you looking for unique or unusual presents for the holidays? This GardenLady has a few suggestions. I love the items that are not necessarily sold in the malls. And you know that TheGardenLady loves local items whenever that is possible especially because it supports the economy. So you will be able to find gifts in your location. And since it helps in these harsh economic times if the prices are reasonable, the shopping for gift suggestions are going to have modest price tags.

The first suggestion is to check out your local nurseries for presents. Many small nurseries not only have plants and flowers for the holidays, (And what could be nicer than a pretty new poinsettia for Christmas or a bouquet with blue and white flowers for Hanukah?) but also these nurseries often have surprising and unusual gifts. One of my favorites, Ambleside Nursery in NJ has the most delightful gifts.  I think I can often do my entire holiday shopping at Ambleside Nursery. For example, they have the most extraordinary creche sets from around the world. And their Christmas tree ornaments have been among the most unusual ones that I have ever seen. One year I bought little mice ornaments for gifts. I eagerly look forward to seeing what surprises they have this year.

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Cranberries (Vaccinium macrocarpon): How to Make Cranberry Sauce

Tytebærblom/ Cranberries Flower by haraldna

Thanksgiving is over and after all the cooking, that generally means leftovers. I have never been a fan of leftovers, except for one; and that one is my homemade cranberry sauce. I used to buy it in cans until I learned how easy it is to make whole cranberry sauce from scratch. I buy the cranberries when they are on sale. I toss the bag into the freezer. When I am ready to use them, I rinse and cook the cranberries to serve with any type of fowl. In fact, my family thinks cranberry sauce is a necessity whenever I roast a chicken or a turkey -the cranberry sauce and chicken or turkey are a culinary marriage made in a heavenly kitchen. So for me, cranberry sauce is not just for Thanksgiving.

cranberry sauce by ~ Dave McCaskill ~

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Thanksgiving Fun: Artistic things to do with fruits and vegetables

Summer by Guiseppe Arcimboldo by fuzzyshoe

If your family is anything like my family, when we get together with young children we like to do an activity that everyone can participate in. Since everyone in the US is gearing up to celebrate Thanksgiving this week, TheGardenLady thought you may want a creative fun idea for this holiday; something that you can do with family and friends of all ages, from the youngest to the oldest. Of course, even If you are a reader of this blog who does not celebrate Thanksgiving, you might want to consider ways of using the idea in your home when you have your get together.

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Do Sansevierias Grow Outdoors in New Zealand?

Cooktown Trip (Group 28) – An Environmental Disaster – Mother in-law’s Tongue (Sansevieria trifasciata) (Snake Plant) by emblatame (Ron)

TheGardenLady received this question from Pauline.

Does [Sanseveria] grow outside? I live in New Zealand. (Auckland)

Depending on which of the approx 70 different species of Sansevieria you are interested in growing will determine where they can be grown outdoors as a landscaping plant. Sansevieria plants are native to tropical and sub-tropical regions of Europe, Asia, and Africa and need the same temperature where they came from to thrive in your area.

The most common Sansevieria grown in the US is the Sansevieria trifasciata grown as a houseplant unless you live in a frost free zone which in the states would be

USDA Zones 9b to 10a: which is about -1.1 °C (30 °F)

USDA Zone 10b: to 1.7 °C (35 °F)

USDA Zone 11: above 4.5 °C (40 °F)

TheGardenLady saw them growing in private gardens in California. However, I have read that in frost-free areas, Sansevierias can become quite invasive because of their vigorous and spreading rhizomes.

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The Japanese Maple Tree

This has been a spectacular fall for the Japanese maple species Acer japonicum and Acer plamatum. As TheGardenLady drives around her area, she is “blown away” with this year’s fall colors. This is the first time I remember seeing so many of the lace leaf or cut leaf form that have fall colors that are such a brilliant orange. Of course, the red Japanese Maple species are also gorgeous. And with the blue sky and the yellows, reds and oranges of the other trees-Nature’s painting this fall is brilliant.

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Nicotiana: Flowering Tobacco

Nicotiana tabacum (Tobacco) by Luigi FDV

This GardenLady does not smoke and of course she hopes her readers don’t. But there is possibly a good side to nicotine that recently appeared in the news.  And this is the possible use of this family of plants to create organic pesticides.  See here.  Let us hope that scientists can create a good new organic pesticide that is safe to use, just as one of the organic pesticides pyrethrum comes from the genus Chrysanthemum.  And you can make your own organic pesticide from your marigolds.  See here.

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Shakespeare Gardens

NYC Central Park’s Shakespeare Garden by Happy Gillmore

There’s rosemary, that’s for remembrance; pray,
love, remember: and there is pansies. that’s for thoughts.
Hamlet (4.5.170-1)

A friend recently attended a lecture about flowers mentioned in Shakespeare. She was very excited about this lecture. I told her to visit the Shakespeare garden in Central Park, Manhattan, NY. This garden bills itself as the only rock garden in Central Park and the plantings are based on the plants in Shakespeare’s home garden as well as his plays. But I should have told my friend that she could visit about two dozen Shakespeare’s gardens in the US alone.  See here.

I wonder how many there are in England and the rest of the world?  Wouldn’t it be fun to take a trip to all of these Shakespeare gardens to see how each of the designers decided to lay out their gardens using the flowers Shakespeare wrote about!?!  I wonder how many private gardeners in the world have created Shakespeare’s gardens in their yards.

Shakespeare Comedy gardens (7) by

The Hampton Court Palace Flower Show featured Shakespeare gardens in this year’s flower show with also vegetables that were grown during the time of Shakespeare from 1564 to 1616, which is the 16th and 17th century, to encourage private gardeners to do just that- create their own Shakespeare’s garden .
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Magnolia Bush Problems

The Sky’s Wallpaper by kubse

TheGardenLady received this question from someone whose name cannot be found.

My magnolia bush is turning yellow and then the leaves turn brown and drop off. The other leaves have black spots on them. I do not see any insects on them.  Could this be a blight?  And what should I do to save the bush?

There are about 80 species of magnolia. Not knowing what type of magnolia you have or where you live, my first question is whether you own a deciduous or an evergreen magnolia. If it is a magnolia bush, it may be deciduous and the thing that deciduous bushes do, is drop their leaves in the cool part of the year and regrow new leaves in the spring.   See here. So if the magnolia looks otherwise healthy, there is nothing you need do.

But if you have an evergreen magnolia, if the leaves are turning yellow you may have a problem. Is every leaf turning yellow then brown and dropping off?  Or are just a few dropping off?  If it is just a few, remember that even evergreen trees lose some of their leaves each year and there is nothing to worry about.

Sometimes trees are affected by environmental conditions. What has the weather been like in your area? Have you had the heat and drought conditions that we have had on the East coast of the US? This heat has affected lots of trees, shrubs and plants. No one can tell you whether these trees, shrubs and plants will survive from this excessively hot summer. Many of us are are having problems with or losing trees, shrubs and plants.  Trees don’t always die right away. Trees may struggle for a few years and then die. It takes a while for a tree to give up its ghost. Excessively cold winters can also have a similar affect on the life of plants. If the cause of your tree’s leaves turning yellow is from the environment, there is little that can be done other than to try to keep the soil at its optimum level.  See here.

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How to keep old Sansevieria or Mother-in-laws tongue plants happy and healthy

Snake plant by Fuzzy T

A number of readers have asked how to keep old Sansevieria or Mother-in-laws tongue plants happy and healthy. Many readers have inherited family sansevieria plants and want to do the right thing in revitalizing the plants. The best suggestion is to join a Sansevieria society to get their journals that give information about the plants and where you can write to a specialist who works with almost no other plant family. See here.

One question is: What sized pot should it be repotted in? According to the University of Arizona,  they recommend that for all plants the ” rule is that the diameter of the pot should be about one-third the height of the plant from the top of the foliage to the soil line.” Because Sansevierias have strong roots that can break pots, the Sansevieria International Society recommends planting the plant in a deep enough pot to allow its shoots to reach bottom and turn back upwards.

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