Wednesday, December 12, 2012

Merry Christmas and Happy Holidays

We had our annual Christmas party and luncheon today. As usual Barb McSpadden provided a beautiful home and setting for our pot luck dishes. And if you didn't know, apparently everyone in our group is an excellent cook. We had some great food.

The biggest treat of all was the good fun and laughter we shared. We played that Wright game for the gifts, its a lot of fun and sometimes doesn't come out quite right, but never mind, no one was left out.

We had a tour of Barb's wonderful gardens, to me they are a wonder. I can't grow much out here with our salty water, leaf cutter ants and gophers.  This year the gophers managed to eat the roots to my orchid tree.  That was the major damage, there was much more of the minor kind.

When I checked my email I had the Aggie Horticulture update newsletter and there are some links in it I would like to share with you.

First: Christmas Cactus by Cynthia W. Mueller, Master Gardener, Galveston County
 The Christmas Cactus (Schlumbergera bridgesi) is a favorite holiday season house plant, but one which needs careful attention to details if it is to live and flower again the next year. It is closely related to Easter Cactus (Schlumbergera gaertneri) and Thanksgiving Cactus (Schlumbergera truncatus), all with fleshy, flattened, segmented joints and showy flowers ranging in color from white through pink, red and purple. These are cacti which in nature live in the crotches of jungle trees, and benefit from light, porous soil mixed with leafmold and sand.
For the rest of the article be sure to click the link above.

Second: Possum-haw Holly (Ilex decidua)
Dr. William C. Welch, Professor & Landscape Horticulturist
Texas A&M AgriLife Extension
 Each year in November and December, there is a flurry of interest by consumers, customers, and gardeners in what they call the 'yaupon-like plant without any leaves'. Ilex decidua attracts so much attention because of its spectacular and unique presentation of red, orange, and yellow fruit, which appear when the foliage drops in November or early December. The colorful berries usually remain all winter unless they are removed by the cedar waxwing or one of the other nine species of birds known to feed on the fruit. Possum-haw hollies are useful in the landscape as large shrubs or small trees, and may occur with single or multiple trunks. Female plants are preferred, since male selections are fruitless and provide little ornamental value.   Click above to read the rest.
Third: Dill, or Dillweed (Anethum graveolens) by Liz Ball, for the National Garden Bureau
 Dill (Anethum graveolens), a member of the carrot family, has been a favorite culinary herb for centuries, valued both for its flavorful foliage and pungent seeds. The name "dill" comes from an old Norse word, "dilla," which means "to lull," this plant having been frequently prescribed as a tea to treat insomnia and digestive problems. Dill is a delightful herb with many culinary uses. Native to southern Europe, it is a staple in Greek cooking. It is common in Scandinavian and German food as well. Fresh or dried, dill leaves add a distinctive flavor to salads, fish, vegetable casseroles and soups. Used whole or ground, dill seeds add zest to breads, cheeses, and salad dressings. The seeds are the best way to use dill in dishes that require cooking over a long time. Of course, dill is best known as a pickling herb for cucumbers, and also green beans, carrots and beets. Again, click the link for the rest of the article.
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