VOLUME 13, ISSUE 51 • December 21, 2017

Neil Sperry editor. Gretchen Drew design and circulation.


Happy shortest day of the year! (Does anyone celebrate such an event? Not my wife! She lives for the longer days of spring and summer.) In any event, I've packed together some fun things to read on this long and dark night. Hope you enjoy them:

• Amaryllis: bulbs that brighten your life;
• Do mulches really help in the winter?
• Things other than shopping to do this weekend;
• High-flying cacti; and
• Steven Chamblee returns!

Special thanks…
• To all who bought my book Neil Sperry's Lone Star Gardening for Christmas gift-giving or for themselves. I hope you enjoy it immensely.
• To all who gave to our Christmas is for Caring fund-raiser last week on WBAP in support of the Denton State Supported Living Center. It was an overwhelming success, and we are very grateful. Thanks, too, to Calloways for hosting the drop-off locations and to the fine men and women of Region 5 of the Texas Nursery and Landscape Association. They picked up all the gifts and transported them to Denton.

And now it's on to e-gardens for this week!

Photo: Christmas cacti are highlights of the season.


Christmas Cacti Are Right on Time

Stop by any garden center in Texas and you'll see Christmas cacti in showy mid-winter bloom. Their timing seems odd, but when you hear where they're native it will make total sense.

Photo: Christmas cacti are blooming now.


Native Son: The Mystery of Mark Essence

Ever wonder what gives with red oaks that hang onto their leaves well into winter? Our buddy Steven Chamblee ponders that point and you’ll want to read what rolled through his fertile mind.

Photo: Steven enjoying the morning sun with his friend, Mark Essence.


Gardening This Weekend

I'm a practical man. I suspect you'll have next to zero time for the landscape and garden this weekend. I'm listing only the most critical stuff.

Photo: Just a few seconds' exposure to below-freezing temperatures can kill a poinsettia.


Question of the Week: December 21, 2017

"Neil, how critical is mulching for my plants in the winter?"

Mulching is always a great idea. I'll give my estimations. Click through to see them.

Photo: Bark mulch performs many functions.


A December Delight

Tropical amaryllis make great last-minute Christmas gifts, and they truly keep on giving for years into the future. That is, if you care for them properly. I have the details.

Photo: Red-flowering amaryllis blooms for the second year, albeit a little bit later. Read on for details.


And, in closing…

That's what we have and we hope it's been fun. I'll be back with another edition of e-gardens same time next week, and I hope you'll join me.

In the meantime, please have a safe and wonderful holiday, hopefully with family and friends. Reach out to others less blessed, and always wear a big smile.

Here's a message from our pastor, Tommy Brumett of First United Methodist Church in Downtown McKinney. He - and we - invite you to join us Christmas Eve for any of the 10 services starting at 10 A.M. and going until midnight.

Merry Christmas, my friend!

And Happy Gardening!


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