Sorting out the indoor greenery

By Jennie Hagen December 26, 2012 09:35 am
Our ground is finally frozen and the chilling winds of winter have arrived. 

Yet it was just a few weeks ago, in years past unheard of, that in the first week of December I found myself planting a few stray perennials into the deep soil of our new residence on the south end of this wide valley.  

Although previous digging two months ago had revealed a rich supply of garden and earthworms, they had all now dove to deeper regions leading me to understand the frozen soil we expect would soon arrive. The worms were right.

Dormant, leafless trees surround all of us now; evergreen buds are curled tight to await the lengthened days and warmth of spring. And as gardeners do, we wait patiently while perusing catalogs and scouring internet sites for ideas and inspiration. In the meantime, we bring in what’s outside to enjoy and delight not just our eyes but other senses as well. For who doesn’t delight in the rich aroma of pine or fir boughs once brought inside? The deep aroma and scent of warmed pitch is a gentle, soothing editorial for aromatherapy.  It’s a scent we all enjoy.

A reader once asked if there were any easy tips for keeping greenery fresh once brought into an indoor heated area. The focus of her question was “easy”: What could she do to lengthen the “shelf-life” of her wreath without compromising the attached decorations? The first and most practical idea is to ask yourself how long ago was this greenery collected? Many retail outlets have had pre-made wreaths for sale for weeks. While beautiful and attractive, they are already dried out with some having been assembled over a month or more ago.

If your wreath is being placed on an exterior door, no maintenance is needed and the dried boughs will not present a safety hazard or become unduly unattractive through the following weeks.  For anything brought inside you need to think of the two most important aspects of living material: maintaining a fresh appearance, and safety.

To keep wreaths fresh looking, and to prevent needle or tip drop, spritzing them daily with a handheld mister is best and easiest. If you are making your own wreath, soaking the branches in a tub of water for at least an hour prior to assembly will not just make the stems more pliable but will keep them fresh-looking for several days. Even if you have made your own wreath, if you are hanging it indoors remember to mist it daily.

For trees brought into your home safety cannot be stressed enough.

They simply must be watered daily.  If you have wood heat, adding water both morning and evening will probably be necessary. If, after running your hand along a branch, the needles drop off readily, your tree is already too dry and extreme caution must be maintained. A simply spark can ignite a dried out tree in mere seconds. Don’t let this happen to you! Check and add water as frequently as necessary to keep your tree fresh and family safe. Adding an aspirin to the water is a time-tested remedy to help with absorption. If that isn’t handy for your particular circumstances, just keep the tree watered as best as you can. A six-foot tree with a three- to four-inch base can consume several cups of water daily; let it have as much as it wants!

Please be safe, warm, and enjoy the next few months of planning pleasure as we look forward to gar dening outdoors once again.