December

What to do in your Mountain garden in December

Prepare

Order bulbs, plants, and seeds as soon as catalogs arrive. Ask the company to hold any live material for shipping in spring or at the proper planting time for your area.

Plant

To dispel winter gloom, grow potted fancy-leafed scented geraniums in a sunny window. They are available in a wide range of flower and leaf colors, sizes, and fragrances.

For a long-lived arrangement, set a pot of blooming amaryllis, clivia, orchid, paperwhites, or poinsettia into a large plastic- lined basket surrounded with pots of low, spreading house-plants that have attractive foliage, such as Christmas cactus or creeping fig. Finish with a small star-shaped aloe or agave. Cover exposed pots with Spanish moss or sprigs of conifers.

Maintain

Check soil moisture of shrubs and trees planted last season by sticking a screwdriver down 2 inches into the soil a few inches from the trunk. If the blade feels dry, set a bubbler at the base of the plant and water until the rootball is evenly moist.

Prune overgrown arborvitae, cedar, cypress, fir, holly, juniper, pine, and spruce. Save trimmings for holiday decorating in- doors.

Protect

Move potted plants that overwinter outdoors to a sheltered site on the east or north side of your home. Prevent frost damage by wrapping containers in several sheets of bubble wrap.

After the holiday, recycle your Christmas tree by cutting off boughs and laying them over flower beds, small shrubs, and rock gardens. Overlap the branches to cover and protect plants from winter desiccation.

Harvest

Clip rose hips from roses not treated with pesticides to make tea. Wash thoroughly; use five per cup and steep for about 10 minutes.

Feed

To provide a treat for birds, drape a tree or shrub in your garden with garlands made of unsalted popcorn, cranberries, and pinecones slathered with peanut butter and rolled in birdseed.