December - What's in Lisa's Garden?

Lisa Colburn


In My Garden (Zone 3-4)

Lisa Colburn
Lisa Colburn is a crazy gardener, great cook and author of The Maine Garden Journal.


When dark December glooms the day, And takes our autumn joys away....Walter Scott

-Walter Scott

Gardening outside has just about come to a complete stop. In Maine, we've had heavy snow that came very early. It flattened perennials that I did not have a chance to cutback. I'm sure we'll have an occasional day above freezing when I can brave the elements to get outside and do a little bit more fall clean-up but, on the whole, I've put away the wheel barrow for this year. I've just completed the last chores associated with outdoor gardening - cleaning seed trays and pots. When planting season comes along in a few months, I'll be ready.

I'm focusing on my houseplants. My cactus are all inside. Many cacti can tolerate cold temperatures but they don't do well with snow and the freeze/thaw cycles that occur in my zone 3-4 garden. They spend winter on my windowsills. I want them to go into semi-dormancy so water them very little. In fact, I usually don't water them until March when several start to bloom.

I'm an African violet enthusiast and I've started many new plants from leaf cuttings. They're growing under lights in the basement. Hopefully many of them will be in bloom as the holidays approach because I hope to give them as gifts to some of my gardening buddies. I believe African violets are almost the perfect houseplant. Here's a peek at what the whole selection will look like in a few weeks.

I often get a poinsettia or two to decorate my dining room during the holiday season. I'm fond of the traditional plant with the red bracts but when I visited the University of Maine greenhouses, I had the opportunity to see a number of selections they were testing for commercial greenhouse growers. I have to admit that the stark white poinsettias got my attention as well.

Seed catalogs are already arriving. Armchair gardening season has begun. I'll be assessing my seed needs, adding notes to my garden journal, and spending time putting together my seed and plant orders. I've been disappointed in the past when I placed orders too late and missed out on coveted plants. This year I'm checking my list twice and paying attention! Most seed catalog companies also have great websites with even more information and a larger selection! I'll be doing my armchair gardening with my laptop as well. The early bird gets the worm.




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Gardening Tip of the Day

  • A thoughtful, quick, and easy-to-make gift for gardeners is an herbal scrub. Use a wide-mouthed glass container and fill about 1/2 full of sea salt. Fill container with almond oil, olive oil, or jojoba oil so it covers the salt by about 1 to 1 1/2 inches. Add some drops of essential herbal oil like rosemary or lavender for a relaxing scent, or use essential oils with more energizing properties like lime, grapefruit, or peppermint and seal. Tie a ribbon or raffia around the top and attach an instruction card to use the scrub in the shower after a long day in the garden.