Month: November 2017

Perennial poinsettias possible!

 By Debra R. Messick Like many people, I once believed poinsettias were preordained to last only as long the Christmas season. A few hardy specimens might linger briefly into the new year, but once the holidays were gone, so too were the iconic flowers identified with them. Thanks to two patrons of Hurlock Library in northern Dorchester County, I learned that a little luck and a lot of care can keep poinsettias thriving far beyond one brief annual interlude. Just prior to Christmas 2016, a frequent library visitor was suddenly gifted an enormous poinsettia. Concerned for the safety of her feline friends at home (the plant can be toxic if ingested by cats) she donated the supersized specimen to Hurlock’s library branch, brightening the lobby through December and well into January. Staff and visitors were resigned to the eventual day it would wilt away, but that day never came. On Valentine’s Day, the plant remained hardy. As the Spring Equinox arrived, though its size had gradually diminished, its overall vigor remained intact. With Easter rapidly approaching, staff began fielding questions about what the poinsettia was still doing there. As murmurs began about the possibility of decorating the “overdue” poinsettia’s pot with bunnies and eggs, another patron mercifully stepped in with a solution. While checking out a book early last spring, Shirley Edwards was taken with the plant’s fortitude, and...

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History rings a bell

By DeeDee Wood (Editor’s note: DeeDee Wood is the store manager at Tharpe Antiques, in Easton, part of the Talbot Historical Society.) The earliest evidence archaeologically for bells dates back to Northern China from the 3,000 BC. Bells were used to produce harmonics for religion, ceremony, clock chimes and utilitarian purposes. Simple in design, bells resonate different pitches depending upon how they are cast, and what type of material was used. Bells served important functions in the communities in which they were made. The earliest bells were made of pottery, and later cast with metal, a process called bellfounding. The...

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Bald cypress a faux evergreen

By Ginny Rosenkranz The Bald Cypress (Taxodium distichum) is an interesting native tree that looks like it should be an evergreen, but in the late fall of the year the slender green needles turn a soft cinnamon orange/brown color then fall completely off the tree, leaving it “bald.” This long lived conifer lives as far south as Florida, and as far west as Texas and grow very well in Maryland. It is one of the few trees that can live in the swamps and rivers, but can also grow beautifully on dry land. The tree trunks flare out at the base and if they grow in the water, the trees will also develop distinctive knobby root growths that are called “knees’”that grow in slender pyramids above the water. Whether growing in water or growing above ground, the trees can reach as much as 50-75 feet tall by 20-30 feet wide, so they will need room to grow! The bright yellow green leaves emerge early in the spring to mature into a soft sage green and are sometimes described as resembling feathers. The fibrous bark looks lovely in the winter with its attractive reddish brown color, and the small rounded cones start out green to purple then mature to brown. Although these beautiful trees do not make a good evergreen holiday tree, they add so much color and texture to the...

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Garden chores don’t stop for cold

By Ken Morgan Try to keep your holiday cactus in the coolest possible room. This will help delay the opening of the buds until Christmas. Always feed your plant with Super Bloom when watering while the plant is flowering. • Keep leaves raked-up on your lawn and landscape areas. Allowing them to remain creates an environment for over-wintering insects and diseases. Whenever possible, compost the leaves for use next spring. • Buy your Cut Christmas tree now. Balsam, Fraser Fir, Noble Fir, and Douglas Fir trees are the best choice because they absorb water more freely, making them the safest indoor cut tree. • Before you purchase a cut tree, try to break off a small branch with your fingers. If it snaps, off consider it dead. If it does not snap off, cut off a small piece and see if it is green or white, which means the tree is still alive and a good Christmas tree. • Consider spraying your cut or balled tree, fresh evergreen wreaths and greens with Wilt-Pruf. This will help it to retain moisture in the needles throughout the holidays and prevent premature needle drop. It can also be used outdoors to keep not only cut greens fresh, but will protect evergreen plants as well. Winter winds tend to dehydrate evergreen leaves on hollies, camellias, azaleas, rhododendron, mahonia and other broadleaf evergreens. One application...

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’Tis the season to be frugal …

By Kristine George Happy December! We are smack dab in the middle of my favorite time of the year! While it is a happy time of shopping, baking and decorating, it can also be a stressful time on my bank account! Despite my efforts to save up for the inevitable cost of all of this merriment, I always find that my holiday cheer level is hampered by the strain on my wallet! I read a funny meme on social media the other day that summed it up beautifully. It read “Me: I cannot wait for the holidays to arrive.” Bank Account: “Oh, Yes you can!” Raise your hand if your holiday budget feels like it grows tighter and tighter each year — while the cost of your holiday wish list and celebrations continues to grow? Here are a few tried and true strategies for surviving the holiday season with your wallet — and sanity — in check. Make a list and check it twice: This year, I simplified some areas of my holiday to do list by simply cutting out those things that are not necessary to have a happy holiday with my family. This year, it was the pressure to do the perfect family holiday card. Each year, we spend money on new Christmas outfits so that we can take a perfect holiday picture and have more than...

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