Holiday Greenery

20181207_082705

It’s that time of year–I start “decking the halls” (or walls, in this case) with all sorts of live greens. And no, I don’t make them myself.

I may go cut some fresh holly from my backyard, but for the most part, my holly grows in too much shade to make abundant berries–and I would much prefer to leave the berries outside for the birds to enjoy anyway.

So I splurge on these purchased things–and for the most part, I leave them up until well into Lent!

20181207_082654

I used to get kissing balls but the last few years I’ve gotten these baskets. They seem to last a little better, and depending on what they’re grown in, I may get a bonus container at the end. The last couple of years when I had gotten “kissing balls” they seemed to disintegrate in January or February–well before I was ready to recycle them. These last better.

20181207_082631

And I brought this home and set it in its usual spot and realized it was next to 2 pots of succulents which were frozen in place–so I had to re-think that placement in a hurry! As it turns out, I like this placement better–until our next snow, at least, when the Spoiler will blast it with the snowblower! I’ll have to hope my succulents thaw so that I can move them!

The Anti-Poinsettias

20161213_123343

Every year about this time I post about these pretty red and green plants, calling them “anti-poinsettias.”

These are aglaonemas, otherwise known as Chinese Evergreens. You often see them sold in pretty green and white varieties. I almost brought one of those home the other day, but it was so cold that I wasn’t sure that I could safely transport it from the store to my car so I will wait until warmer temperatures–in other words, July, in my part of the world!

Poinsettias don’t do well in my house. Like many New Englanders, we keep our house too cold for the heat loving plant from Mexico. So I have learned to stop killing them, and I grow these, which will tolerate my chilly low 60s.

20181206_193958

Here’s another variety, a pinker version, that’s about to bloom as well.

And the best part about these plants? Once the holidays are over, they’re still lovely to look at!

Welcome to Meteorological Winter

December 1 began meteorological winter, which is different from astronomical winter.

Meteorological winter is based on the three coldest months–December, January and February. Astronomical winter is based on the solstice, which this year happens on December 21.

So, since we’re in meteorological winter now, I thought I would see what my squirrels were thinking. For newer readers, what I am relying on is the time tested (sort of) tradition that squirrels build their nests based on their foreknowledge of winter cold. The higher up in a tree a squirrel builds its nest, the colder the winter will be.

I ask you, does this make any sense? No. But it has seemed to hold true for almost every winter that I have consulted the nests. So let’s look up at some nests.

20181201_085900

This is the squirrel’s nest on my property. It’s a little hard to see because it’s almost at the top of this oak. Clearly, my squirrels are thinking “cold winter.”

And I wouldn’t disagree with them. November ran well below average, except in snowfall and rainfall.

But that’s not the whole story.

20181201_090025_001

There are two nests in this tree (again, if you can’t see them, my apologies. This time of year, we’re all still cleaning up leaves, and I couldn’t get near anything because of leaf piles–which is still better than snowdrifts!)

These trees are on my neighbor’s property, directly across from my house and my oak. In the tree on the left–the one nearest their house–there are 2 nests. One is on the lowest branch and another just slightly higher. So their squirrels are thinking different things than mine.

So perhaps the “split decision” this winter means exactly that: periods of very cold weather followed by not so cold. I’ll take that!