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Alabama Gardens: Gift Ideas

Think lawn and garden for gift ideas



December Gardening Tips
  • Transplant trees and shrubs and plant roses, spring-flowering bulbs and hardy annual plant seed.

  • Protect tender flowering shrubs from freezing weather by covering them with a sheet or blanket. Uncover them when temperatures begin to rise.
  • Keep houseplants healthy by wiping dust from their foliage and keeping them in more humid areas of the house, such as the kitchen or bathrooms.
  • Spot-treat weeds in the lawn.
  • If you’ve not already done it, apply winter-protective mulch to garden beds and around newly planted trees and shrubs.
  • Prune hardy deciduous and evergreen trees and summer-blooming shrubs.
  • Sow seeds for winter or cool-season vegetables.
  • Plant cool-season annuals such as pansies, ornamental cabbages and kales and snapdragons.
  • Water lawns, shrubs and small trees if the weather is dry.
  • Keep bird feeders and birdbaths clean and full.

  • Begin planning your 2015 garden.

I have a son-in-law who is a closet Clark “Sparky” Griswold — you know, Chevy Chase’s character in the movie “National Lampoon’s Christmas Vacation” — who gets a little carried away with his holiday decorations.

Instead of landscaping your yard like the Griswold home, try decorating with traditional holiday plants such as poinsettias or topiaries.
Instead of landscaping your yard like the Griswold home, try decorating with traditional holiday plants such as poinsettias or topiaries.

Though my son-in-law (perhaps due to my daughter’s intervention) has kept his inner “Sparky” in check and never landscaped their yard with giant inflatables and incessant flashing Christmas lights, my husband and I have long been tempted to Griswold him for Christmas: Don’t you know he’d love to come home one evening to a yard filled with Santas, snowmen, reindeer, elves and other festive (some may say tacky) holiday decorations?

Realizing that such a gift may have repercussions (we want my daughter to continue speaking to us, after all), we instead have given him things for the lawn and garden, from grills to landscape plants.

There are also plenty of indoor plants available this time of year that can be given as gifts or used to decorate for the holidays. Topping the best-seller list of potted holiday plants is the poinsettia, cultivars of which now come in a wide range of colors and sizes. Festive Christmas cactuses are also extremely popular, and both of these holiday favorites, with proper care, can be carried over from year to year and can even be coaxed into re-blooming just in time for the holidays. In fact, tucking them away in a dark place and ignoring them from October till early December is pretty much all it takes to bring them back into bloom for the holidays.

But don’t stop with these more traditional holiday plants. Tap into the abundance of potted azaleas, hydrangeas, hollies, rosemary topiaries, Lenten or Christmas roses, Norfolk Island pines, orchids, amaryllis, paper whites and other container plants that are wonderful for the holiday season, but can also be kept as container plants or planted in the landscape for year-round enjoyment.

And if the urge to go “Sparky” is just too strong to resist, I say let your “Sparky” shine. Even my daughter admits that some of our fondest holiday memories involve driving around neighborhoods to see who has the showiest, if not gaudiest, Griswoldian display.

Katie Jackson is a freelance writer and editor based in Opelika, Alabama. Contact her at