Save the Poinsettias!

I’ve been down with the crud that has been going around. Luckily, I don’t have to come up with an inspirational year-end post; the Utah State University Cooperative Extension has done the job for me. I urge you to watch their short video on the torture and destruction of post-Christmas poinsettias. Then take action. Please.

A Down Under Carol

We’re all familiar with French hens, turtledoves, and partridges in pear trees, but do you associate Christmas with bellbirds, friarbirds, and currawongs? You might, if you live in Australia!

Having just visited this amazing continent (and we barely got a taste in three weeks!), I am delighted to share this distinctly Aussie Christmas carol with you. It was written by William Garnet James and John Wheeler, is sung by Bucko & Champs, and was posted to YouTube by Shirley Wookie.

Carol of the Birds

Make sure your sound is on. I’m afraid the quality is rather poor, so don’t make the screen too big. And for the record, “orana” means welcome in an Aboriginal tongue.
At top: Currawong (Faulconbridge, NSW, left), and Helmeted Friarbird (Daintree, QLD).

Merry Christmas


Joy to the world! The lord is come—let earth receive her king.
Joy to the world! The lord is come—Let earth receive her king.
Let every heart prepare him room
And heaven and nature sing
And heaven and nature sing
And heaven and heaven and nature sing!

Now, please get off your computer and go spend time with real people. That’s what I’m doing. I’ll be back Monday with a new post. Merry Christmas!


Love Poinsettias? Thank a Phytoplasma.

poinsettias_20091218_plh_5604For many of us gardeners, poinsettia plants are an essential element of our Christmas decorating. I love the huge displays at church and in the stores, even if I don’t have room for that many in my home. I’ve written about how to keep the plants alive (see my 2012 post on “Pretty Poinsettias”). But this year I learned something new.

When I was small (I had my sixth birthday on the trip), my parents and I spent four weeks traveling around Mexico, from early December to early January. It was a wonderful time to visit, with all the Christmas and New Year celebrations. One common sight we couldn’t miss were the gardens full of bright red poinsettias in full bloom.


And We Beheld His Glory


In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God. In Him was life, and the life was the light of men. And the light shines in the darkness, and the darkness did not comprehend it.

He was in the world, and the world was made through Him, and the world did not know Him. But as many as received Him, to them He gave the right to become children of God, to those who believe in His name: who were born, not of blood, nor of the will of the flesh, nor of the will of man, but of God.

And the Word became flesh and dwelt among us, and we beheld His glory, the glory as of the only begotten of the Father, full of grace and truth.

Merry Christmas, everyone!

A Gardener’s Christmas Tree

May your Christmas be filled with wonder and love. I’m taking a break next week to focus on our house full of family. See you December 29 with a year-end post.

You can tell a gardener lives in this house… here are a few favorite ornaments on our tree:

Collage - Christmas 2014

Top: Apple, wowing Santa,wunshine, flowering maple (Abuliton)?
Middle:  Tomato, ladybug
Bottom: White rose, strawberry, carrot, grapes.


Dwarf mistletoe on Ponderosa
Dwarf mistletoe on Ponderosa

“You don’t want to buy that lot—the trees have mistletoe!” Our realtor pointed at a shrubby mass growing among the branches high in the Ponderosa pine.

It didn’t look anything like the mistletoe I was familiar with, coming from California. There, the live oaks often support huge masses of mistletoe. And neither plant resembled the old plastic “mistletoe sprig” I inherited from my parents, that we hung in our doorway at Christmastime to encourage kissing. Curious, I did some research. It turns out that there are hundreds, if not thousands of barely-related species of parasitic plants called mistletoe.