Month by Month in the Garden
December's Plant of the Month
Danae racemosa, commonly called Poet's Laurel, is a graceful foliage plant for floral arrangements. Poets Laurel is used for its glossy emerald green color and long-lasting vase life.
It grows well in our amended garden
clay soils, though it prefers being well-drained. The foliage discolors in sun, so plant it in dappled shade. It takes a while to get its root system in place, but then makes a dramatic, arching shrub in the garden. The stems brown and die in late winter, so cut it freely for the winter holidays and use it indoors. New shoots will appear in Spring.
November's Plant of the Month
Chasmanthium latifolium, commonly called Sea Oats, is one of the ornamental grasses. It adds a graceful “harvest” effect to fall arrangements. They dry easily and last all season.
Sea Oats are a useful plant in the garden too. Shamrock green foliage all summer, and their graceful seed heads add movement in fall and interest all winter. Best of all, Sea Oats do fine in dry part-shade – a difficult place to plant. They do naturalize by seeding in. If you cut the seed heads for your Thanksgiving floral designs, however, this won't be a problem.
December To-Do's in the Garden
Keep plants and shrubs watered during dry spells.
Plant deciduous trees and shrubs now in their dormant season.
Lay cut Xmas tree branches over tender perennials to protect from cold.
Remember to feed the birds.
Prepare new beds when the soil is dry enough and let rest through the winter for spring planting.
Apply lime now if you need it (get a soil test. see www. content.ces.ncsu.edu/a-gardeners-guide-to-soil-testing). Lime takes a long time to react with the soil, so winter applications help the spring garden.
November To-Dos in the Garden
November is the time of leaves! Be sure to keep them off lawns and moss gardens. Leave them on perennial beds where possible to protect as winter mulch and also provide habitat for wildlife.
Divide and replant crowded perennials (hostas, day lilies, etc)
Mulch tender plants for winter protection
Also mulch (1 inch thick ) over winter bulbs to help maintain consistent temperatures below ground as our Southern weather chills and then warms up.
Detach watering hoses from spigots and drain.
Plant winter bulbs – daffodils, tulips, lilies, etc – and pansies for winter color. A favorite Southern tip is to layer .. plant early flowering bulbs deep in the soil (6”) and then layer the pansies on top. In spring the pansies will get the addition of the tulips (or daffodils) to add a new dimension of color and form.