Nature touches our homes for the holidays

By Times Staff, Wires
Published November 24, 2007

Here comes the season! Try these variations on decking the halls. A small potted rosemary bush can stand in for a mini Christmas tree on a tabletop. It smells great and will thrive in a sunny garden after Jan. 1. . . . If you have early ripening citrus, gifts are as close as your tree branches. Dancy tangerines, navel oranges and grapefruit should be ready to pick, Month-by-Month Gardening in Florida says.


Gold, frankincense, myrrh - mangoes

Find mangoes in the supermarket and put together a natural, pretty centerpiece with fruit, nuts and berries. You could probably find a mango-scented candle to accompany it. The National Mango Board, looking forward to Hanukkah, which starts at sundown Dec. 4, suggests inserting nine candles into a mango and calling it a mango-rah.


The well-rounded container garden

As you plan your winter container garden, remember this rhyme about what you need: a thriller, a spiller and a filler. The thriller is the center plant, the focus of attention. The spiller is the plant that cascades over the container's edge. The filler is for any empty spots. 


Give your herbs a new lease on life

If your herb garden got bleached and burned in the summer heat (when even the basil doesn't survive, you know it's hot), the newly cool weather makes this a good time to replant. Group herbs that like the same conditions (basil and rosemary, for example, can tolerate full sun; parsley's a little more delicate). A couple of small pots from the garden center or supermarket should thrive quickly and earn their keep as tasty additions to your cooking.


Surprise yourself with a present too

You'll start out intending to give this as a holiday gift to a favorite gardener. Then you'll want to take just a little peek . . . and read a little more . . . and just one more chapter . . . and next thing you know you've decided to keep it for yourself. So buy two copies. P. Allen Smith's Living in the Garden Home: Connecting the Seasons with Containers, Crafts and Celebrations (Clarkson Potter, $32.50) offers projects for every season for new and experienced gardeners. Even though Smith is gardening up North, with temperatures and growing conditions different from ours, it's still a delightful book, with gorgeous photographs. He offers planting ideas, ways to decorate with plants and flowers, garden art, evening gardens and much more.