Monday, December 24, 2018

Merry Christmas from Astolat Farm

I love Christmas: decorating the house, visiting with good friends, entertaining, and planning the Boxing Day dinner for our family. This year, as an extra bit of fun, I dressed up our goats and made the picture into a Christmas card. Some were surprised that I did it, but all agreed that Doodles is the cutest baby goat ever. So I'm sharing the picture with all of you, as I wish you a Merry Christmas and Happy New Year from everyone at Astolat Farm, including Doodles and Billy Goat. 

Here is a little tour of the house in its holiday finery:

The main tree is in the den
As always, we chose a Frasier fir from Old Homestead Tree Farm
A smaller (artificial) tree in the Garden Room is new this year
I brought the angel topper with me from England 40 years ago
A collection of school houses on the TV cabinet
Jon made a parade of English soldiers through the schoolhouse village
He arranged my large collection of santas on the hutch

The dining room is beginning to look festive:

Love the seasonal flowers on my teacup collection
Winter rose poinsettia
I'm so happy that many people still send cards

Wishing you a blessed holiday season and happy gardening in 2019!



Christmas crackers are part of our tradition

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Monday, December 17, 2018

Gifts for Gardeners

My annual "Gifts that Grow" article was published in the Pocono Record newspaper last weekend. If you didn't see it and, like me, you still haven't finished your holiday shopping, here are some ideas for your green-thumb friends. The prices range from $10 and up.

Seasonal Plant: Amaryllis kits are readily available online and in stores. My favorite seasonal plant this year, however, is winter rose poinsettia (Euphorbia pulcherrima 'Winter rose').

Amaryllis 'Picotee' and Amaryllis 'Clown'
Winter rose poinsettia in one of my Christmas displays

Garden Art: If your gardener has a theme or collects particular objects, such as frogs for example, consider adding to the set. (First picture, above, taken at Northview Gardens, Jenny Rose Carey's beautiful property.) Very popular today are swimming koi sculptures. I first saw them at the Philadelphia Flower Show and they have been on my wish list ever since. They are ceramic fishes with fluid curved shapes. Each fish has a stake and when placed in the garden they seem to flow through the plants. A group of three is perfect to create the impression of movement. Artist Tyson M. Weiss makes them by hand in Maine.

I love statues and have several in my gardens including this pensive lady.

Tools, Gloves, Tote, or Tool Caddy: Gardeners always appreciate new hand tools, but what about organizing and carrying them around? A good garden tote will eliminate those annoying trips back to the shed for forgotten supplies. Other options are a tool belt, an apron with many pockets, or a bucket with a tool caddy that fits inside.

Gardeners always appreciate tools and gloves.

Books and Calendars: If you are shopping for someone who gardens in a small space, Jessica Walliser's Container Gardening Complete has step-by-step instructions, photographs, and information on more than 125 plants. A must for all gardeners who care about the environmenrt is Douglas Tallamy's Bringing Nature Home: How You Can Sustain Wildlife with Native Plants. Any gardener who has visited or would like to visit Chanticleer Garden in Wayne, PA will enjoy The Art of Gardening, illustrated with beautiful photographs by Rob Cardillo.  For more titles, read my newspaper article HERE. The Penn State Master Gardener program has produced its first state-wide calendar, an excellent gift for any gardener. Available at your Extension office for $10.

For the Bird Lover: While bird lovers will appreciate one of the many birdhouse designs on the market, consider a birdhouse planter. Dual-purpose gifts are always a plus. I find that succulents work very well in mine as they are drought tolerant and need little care. The birds seem to enjoy having a green roof, too.

One of the many styles of birdhouse in my garden.
My latest birdhouse planter (I have two) with succulents.

Gifts That Attract Pollinators: All gardeners like to see beneficial insects in the garden. I love to attract the peaceful, non-stinging mason bees. The bamboo tubes provide a nesting place for these native pollinators.

Mason Bee House

Gift Certificate to the Philadelphia Flower Show: Who wouldn't like tickets to the Philadelphia Flower Show, or any flower show in your area? I have mine for next March already. The theme is 'Flower Power' -- the Fifties are my era. Can't wait!

The Philadelphia Flower Show in 2017 was my favorite so far

A Windowsill Herb Kit: When it is too cold to garden, the avid gardener in your life is probably longing to get soil under their nails. A windowsill herb kit will help them indulge their gardening passion while providing some fresh, homegrown food. You can easily purchase the items separately or you can buy a premade kit. 

Herbs on my windowsill

Gifts From Your Garden: Give homemade food gifts, such as jams, jellies, and salsas if you have canned produce from your garden. Cover the lids with a circle of Christmas fabric for a special touch.

My pickled beets

Finally, my favorite gift last year was the Garden Lady ornament that my husband gave me:

A tree ornament for the gardener

When searching for the perfect gift for gardeners, the possibilities are almost endless.
I hope you receive everything on your wish list this holiday season, dear gardening friend.

Pamela x

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