Christmas cactus, prep for winter

Right along with stores playing Jingle Bells by Thanksgiving, my Christmas cactus serenaded early.

Christmas cactus

Really, I can’t believe I’ve kept this gift plant alive for two years. It’s in the front room window, where it gets afternoon sun. Usually it gets no light after 9 p.m. Along with its long hours of darkness this time of year, I attribute its success to neglect. I water once a week if it’s really dry. If my finger detects any moisture at all, I wait another week.

Thanksgiving was the most relaxing day in months. Greg’s an audio engineer, the man behind the curtain for UT football’s radio broadcasts.  So, he was in College Station. Since Daphne’s bi-alum (UT and A&M), we can’t kid her about the winning score.

I spent hours working in the garden, enjoying it, instead of feeling frenzied to cram it all in within a few hours. Between digging in bulbs, a few new plants, shaping, and cleaning up, I actually walked around and admired it. Well, okay, I also came up with a “few” revisions, and a long list of future chores, but I did actually stop  to smell the roses.

New Dawn

rose New Dawn

Buff Beauty

rose Buff Beauty

In the crape bed, I planted a few calendulas and these violas (Sorbet Babyface Ruby & Gold) violas to feed over-wintering butterflies or whoever shows up looking for food.  I like their little faces, sort of like grumpy bunnies.

Viola Sorbet Babyface Ruby & Gold

I unearthed one of the white Salvia coccineas to make room for some calendulas. Its roots looked so good that I stuck it in a pot to see what happens.

On Saturday, before our belated Thanksgiving mini-feast, we installed the patio plastic, just in time for what may come our way tomorrow night.

Winter patio plastic greenhouse

The “lifted” salvia will be safe, along with the ornamental/edible pepper that’s parented lots of passalongs. Every year, it’s like a little patio Christmas tree covered in ornaments.

Ornamental edible peppers

I unearthed the plumeria for safety in the shed, and installed row cover over the lettuce bed, fastened up with my Freight Harbor clamps on warm days.  Tonight, just to be safe, I’m throwing a rowcover over the Satsuma orange.

Garden rowcover

I sprinkled cayenne pepper over the bed to discourage Cedric-cat from napping in this new “cave.” I’ll let you know if it works.

If you don’t have a spot to encase in plastic, or a garage or shed, generally you can bring your tender plants near the house and make a tent with rowcover or one of the blanket “covers” available at nurseries & box stores.  Be cautious about over watering in winter.  Succulents, like aloe vera & others, should stay on the dry side or you’ll encourage rot.

I couldn’t resist this shot of a Tecoma stans finally blooming, while leaves around it turned yellow.

Tecoma stans with fall leaves

I’m sure most of you know about Zilker Botanical Garden, where any time of the year, you can get ideas for your garden.  But did you know that their newsletter, Down the Garden Path, is now online! This quarterly publication is always full of great plant info, along with club news and upcoming events, like Zilker Garden Festival.

At CTG, I’m editing gardens and the programs we’re taping to start your new gardening year. In December, catch repeats of programs (or watch on our new web site).

Until next week, Linda