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The tradition of kissing under the mistletoe

This wonderful holiday custom began during the Greek festival of Saturnalia and was also part of primitive marriage rites of the time. It was believed that it had the power to bestow fertility on the newlyweds. In the Scandinavian countries, the plant mistletoe was considered a plant of peace under which enemies could declare a truce--on the domestic side, it was a sign for spouses to kiss and make up.

During the eighteenth century, the British people would form a ball of mistletoe because of the magical powers it was thought to contain and called it the "Kissing Ball." At Christmas, bright evergreen branches of holly, ivy, and pine were added to the mistletoe ball with colorful ribbons, along with holiday decorations to help make the holiday more festive. Young ladies standing under the mistletoe ball that was hung in the arch of doors could not refuse to be kissed. Such a kiss could mean deep romance or lasting friendship and good will. If the girl remained un-kissed, she could not expect to marry during the coming year.

In parts of England, the Christmas mistletoe is burned on the twelfth night, lest all the boys and girls who have kissed under it never marry. In Canada and some European countries a kiss under the Mistletoe exchanged by a couple in love is interpreted as a promise to marry as well as a prediction of happiness and long life. In France the custom of mistletoe in the home was reserved for the New Year: "Au gui l'an neuf" (Mistletoe of the new year).

Today, kisses under the mistletoe can be exchanged at any time during the holiday season. Mistletoe is still hung up in the home under a doorway for young men to have the privilege of kissing the girls under it. With each kiss, a white berry must be plucked from the plant and when the berries are all removed the kissing privilege is over for the holiday. Most of us have conveniently forgotten the part of picking off the berries after the kiss, so the fun continues through the holiday season.

Mistletoe is a very interesting plant, because it is a partial parasite and lives off the plant that it grows on. It favors the southern oaks and oak varieties from around the world. The plant grows on the branches of the tree and also the trunk of the tree, but is usually found on the top of the tree. The mistletoe plant will actually send out roots that will penetrate into the tree and take up the nutrition it needs to grow and thrive. Mistletoe is also capable of making its own food like other plants by photosynthesis but most commonly found plants are parasitic plants.

Mistletoe plants can be found growing from southern New Jersey to Florida and west to California. The plant is evergreen, with small one-inch oval leaves that are lime green. The plant is very noticeable in the trees during the fall and winter, when the trees have lost their foliage for the season. Mistletoe will stunt the growth of a tree--or even kill it in time. The only way to stop the plant is to remove the entire branch it is growing on, as the roots the mistletoe makes in the tree branches can grow 3 feet or more inside that branch. If you just remove the plant, it will redevelop the following spring from the roots in the tree branches and grow even stronger and faster.

In the late spring, the plant will make small yellow flowers in clusters, and small white sticky berries are produced on the plant during the summer months. The berries are POISONOUS, so if you're decorating your home with fresh berry branches for the holidays and you have animals or small children, you could have a problem. Use the treated foliage with plastic berries attached to them to prevent problems, as some of the berries may fall off the plant onto the floor and will be eaten buy pets and toddlers. This is a fun plant for the holidays, so enjoy all the kissing under the mistletoe this holiday season but get started now while the supply is still available at your local nursery or garden center.
I Saw Mommy Kissing Santa Claus sung by Jimmy Boyd - 1952
I Saw Mommy Kissing Santa Claus sung by Jimmy Boyd - 1952

Reading your favorite gardening book

If you are looking for a book for your favorite gardener for the holidays I would like to give you a list of my favorite books. They are my favorite books because I use them often for reference; I use them to help give you the best gardening information from true professionals. When I write the weekly newsletter, I want to help stimulate you to become a better gardener and these are some of the books I use to do that. All these books are available on the internet or at your local book store and I know that your favorite gardener will appreciate receiving any of the following.

My first love is trees and shrubs. While attending the Stockbridge School of Agriculture, University of Massachusetts, I had a great text book but it took until 1997 for a book written about these plants by Professor Michael A. Dirr, PhD from University of Georgia. The book is called Dirr's Encyclopedia of trees and shrubs voted the book of the years 2014 and it is not for just the college student but for anyone who wants information about the plants in their yard and suggestions of new plants to add to their property. A more sizable book was quickly released, with all the hybrids of every plant type listed in his first book and more detailed information added to it. The book is called Dirr's Manual of Woody Landscape Plants. In 2014 Dirr's Encyclopedia of Trees and Shrubs was released, with over 500 plants featured in it. It is full of beautiful pictures of every plant you need to have in your yard, along with the information on how to grow them. The book is filled with pictures of every plant in leaf, in flower, fall color and the plant special characteristics. This is my favorite book of trees and shrubs.

If you're looking for a great book for maintenance of the trees and shrubs growing on your property, look no further than Pirone's Tree Maintenance. It's a classic reference and it has been revised and updated since I used it in school back in the late 60's. One final book if insects are your thing: Garden Insects of North America by Whitney Cranshaw, a real guide to backyard bugs. It is filled with thousands of picture of insects, their life cycle and how to control them. I use it often to help determine what is causing problems in the garden during the year.

If you're growing fruit trees--or even thinking of planting a couple trees for fresh fruit--then I want to suggest a wonderful fruit tree book called The Backyard Orchardist, by Stella Otto. All your fruit trees are covered in detail in a way that you can understand--something hard to find today in books. Stella has worked in the family orchard all her life and gives you information as if she is talking to you directly. If you're going to grow fruit trees for the next 50 years in your yard, then this is the book for you.
Do you like the taste of fresh berries, grapes and brambles? Then I recommend that you consider The Berry Growers Companion by Barbara L. Bowling. Her book covers all the major berries you have seen in the supermarket, attempted to grow in your garden, or even considered growing in your garden. This book has great information from start to finish--including history of the plants, insect control, pruning, feeding, and variety selection for your area of the country. Also tips to have the best crop possible, and the book is easy to understand for the beginner or well experienced berry grower. It also covers many minor berries found at specialty markets that you can now grow in your garden.

I have two favorite vegetable gardening books for you to consider. The first is Vegetable Gardening (a Readers Digest book) by Fern Marshall Bradley and Jane Courtier. The book covers everything: soil preparation, growing structures, sowing and planting, growing from seed indoors or directly in the garden and much more. All your garden vegetables have a special chapter of their own that goes into detail about that special plant. Variety suggestions, insect control, and possible disease problems are there to help you along during the growing season. Harvesting and storage and when to plant according to your area information is very helpful, but especially helpful are the many colorful pictures that help to show you what will happen with that package of seed you bought this spring--if you take the time to read the information before going into the garden.

The second book is The Vegetable Gardener's Bible by Edward C. Smith, a Story Book publication from Vermont. Great information on growing in raised beds, wide row gardening, creating deep rich soil, and mulching. Suggestions on organic methods of gardening, structures to save space, watering and feeding suggestions, many ideas on crop rotation, composting, and some information on the most common insect and disease problems we all experience in our garden. The second half of the book is filled with everything you will need to know how to grow that special vegetable from seed or from seedlings to the finished product. Great pictures, great tips, and great idea on growing your favorite vegetables with many variety suggestions included of each vegetables.

This summer I picked up three books from the same author--Rosalind Creasy--and have enjoyed all three books. The Complete Book of Edible Landscaping, The Edible Flower Garden and The Edible Herb Garden will give you great ideas on changing your planting habits. The books are filled with wonderful pictures; of plants we all have in the garden, how to grow them, and how to use the flowers, foliage, or roots in food we eat every day or to change the appearance of that common green garden salad. The use of roses in a salad, nasturtium on a pizza, squash blossoms in your scrambled eggs or over pasta and more. Fun books with lots of great ideas of things to do with herbs and flowers that you now grow in the garden.

If you like the flavor that herbs give your cooking, then you will need to look at The Herb Bible: A Complete Guide to Growing and Using Herbs by Jennie Harding. You will find propagation methods, harvesting of the usable parts of the herbs, preserving the herbs fresh, frozen, or dried, use of herbs in oils--and then the recipes included for fresh use to your favorite dishes. Also included is a lot of information on medicinal use, active ingredients found in plant, how to grow and cultivation methods.

In the flower garden, you will enjoy Perennials for Every Purpose by Larry Hodgson. This book will tell you just about everything you will need to know on how to select, grow, and care for your perennials. A great book for beginners or established gardeners who want to know more about perennial flowers and are looking for new plants to add to their gardens. Many garden design ideas, insect and disease problems, as well as animal problems. Look over 400 pages of detailed information on over 200 perennials that can be found at your local garden center or started from seed or division from a friend's garden. Full of growing tips, recommendations, good neighbors to plant in the garden, and the best performers.

Another wonderful flower book is The Complete Flower Gardener from Burpee Seed Co., written by Karen Davis Cutler and Barbara W. Ellis. This book is filled with flower basics, how your soil will affect your results, planting and caring for the plants in the garden, how to handle and care for insects and disease problems during the year, garden equipment and much more. It has great chapters on individual flowers and how to grow them in your garden, and what they need to grow. You also get a bit of history about the special flowers you are considering growing in your garden and where they came from originally; what varieties are best for your garden and much more.

If you like bulbs for your garden, then check out this book, The Complete book of Bulbs and Bulb Gardening, by Kathy Brown. All your favorite bulbs that flower in the spring, summer and, yes, in the fall of the year are in this book. Buying and planting bulbs in your garden, in your lawn, under trees and in containers. Hard-to-find information on propagating and dividing your bulbs, rhizomes, corms, and tubers and the right time of the year to do it. Timely and useful information on the insects and the diseases that cause problems that can affect the bulbs growing in your gardens. Great ideas about designing bulb gardens by the season, naturalizing, and growing techniques for indoor or outside gardens.

another one on flower book is called the Guide to Garden Flowers, from Simon and Schuster's, and written by Guido Moggi and Luciano Giugnolini. Look at more than 500 full-color flower pictures of the world's most beautiful flowers, and find information on how to grow them in your garden. Wonderful descriptions of the flowers, how-to-care-for tips, flowering seasons, and requirements needed to grow in your garden. A small sized book filled with information at your fingertips

If you love houseplants, then here is my favorite book: The Complete Houseplant Survival Manual, by Barbara Pleasant. This book will tell you how to keep your houseplants thriving and how not to keep killing more than 160 common and unusual houseplants. The book is filled with great pictures of the plants and all the information you will need to grow them in your home all year long--no matter the season. Tips on light, temperature, fertilizer, water, type of soil the plant prefers, potting and propagation. One of the special sections on each plant is the troubleshooting page--filled with great information.

If you're looking to purchase one book that has a bit of everything in it: annuals, perennials, vegetables, bulbs, shrubs, trees, fruit, roses, and the lawn--then look no further than The Garden Primer, by a wonderful Maine gardener named Barbara Damrosch. This book has been revised several times and has a lot of organic gardening information in it. The book is filled with planning information, planting tips and care needed for a successful gardening. Over 370 plants are covered and timely advice, tips and some unusual garden wisdom is given to make gardening fun again. A great book to curl up with on a winter night by the fire place-and it's written so you easily understand what she is telling you to do.

If you're fed up with mowing the lawn and want more from your open spaces, look at Covering Ground by Barbara W. Ellis. Great suggestions on covering the ground with colorful, low-maintenance ground covers. Plants for the sun or shade, wet or dry growing conditions--and everything in between--is found in this book. Also information on native plants, woodland plants, vining ground covers, and plants that can become aggressive and possibly invasive when used in the garden. Hundreds of pictures and detailed information on every plant for every part of your yard are found in this book. You will want less grass when you have this book in your collection.

In the fall, when you go to the big fairs and see those super-size giant pumpkins and wonder how they did it, the answer is simple: How to grow World Class Giant Pumpkins 3, by Don Langevin. This book has everything you need to know on how to grow those giant pumpkins, the best place to grow them, watering, feeding, pruning, soil preparation, seed selection, and trouble-shooting. Also groups and associations who live for a bigger pumpkin and all the records they hold. This is not just a hobby,, it is a science--and this book will make you grow bigger pumpkins.

Traditionally the fall is when most of us begin to feed the birds but perhaps not, with the new book from the National Audubon Society called The Bird Garden, by Stephen W Kress. This is a comprehensive guide to attracting birds to your back yard all year long. Landscaping for the birds, nesting structures, when and what to feed the birds, planting fruit bearing shrubs and trees for the birds, plants for winter shelter and spring nesting and back yards ponds and bird baths. Hundreds of pictures of birds and information about the birds' needs, their songs and why they will (or won't) come into your yard.

If you live in a shady lot and are having problems growing anything, then you must look at Making the most of Shade, by Larry Hodgson. Learn how to plan, plant, and grow a great garden in the shade. You will also be able to grow a garden that will light up your yard and use the shadows to your advantage. Featuring hundreds of plants for the shade and how to grow them, useful tips to help them grow better in your garden, the problems and solutions of growing a shade garden, and the top performers of each plant variety.

If your yard is like the desert and nothing will grow, look at this new book: Dry Land Gardening: Plants that Survive and Thrive in Tough Conditions, by Jennifer Bennett. You will find annuals, perennial, bulbs, vines, shrubs, and herbs that like dry growing conditions. If watering is a problem because of water bans or poor soil, this is the book for you to consider. Look at the great pictures of these drought-tolerant plants and read the detailed information on how to grow them when water becomes an issue in your garden.

On the other side of the coin, how about those of you who have a wet yard to deal with? Look at Managing the Wet Garden, by John Simmons. Learn about the plants that flourish in this problem place in your yard. Find out what a wet garden environment is or learn how to make a wet garden. Great pictures of hundreds of plants that love wet feet. You'll find valuable information on plants that will do best when moisture becomes a problem in the garden. You'll also find help on planning a garden in wet areas where nothing but weeds grew before.

Looking for the Oriental side and a unique look to your yard? Look at Feng Shui Garden Design by Antonia Beattie. Learn how to bring your yard in harmony with mature. Learn the Chinese system of the elements and how good Oriental design can affect the flow of the yin and yang. Wonderful pictures that will help you create the perfect hideaway and create a special place to relax after a hard day at work. Many water features, walking paths and pavements, Garden statuary, furniture garden structures and more.

Here are 4 great vegetable cook books for you to consider:

Brassicas, by Laura B. Russell is filled with many recipes for your cold weather crops like Broccoli, Cauliflower, Brussels sprouts, Kale, Cabbage, Asian leafy greens, unusual southern greens and more. A great flavor profile to select the perfect greens for your special dish. I love this book as it gave me great new ways to cook your fresh vegetables from the garden that most us have never tried. Say good bye to steamed, boiled, or roasted vegetables and say hello to sautéed, peppery, spicy, and glazed vegetable with a taste your family will love.

The Essential Root Vegetable Cookbook, by Sally and Martin Stone is a unusual book about vegetables that grow in the ground and we eat them the same way most of the time. The book will teach you how to choose the best root vegetables and serve them with style. Like finding buried treasures in your vegetable garden. New ways to cook such vegetable as beets, carrots, leeks, onions, potatoes, turnips, yams, sweet potatoes and much more. Great suggestions on varieties to plant in your garden, storage, what to look for when purchasing from farm stand or supermarket and basic preparation, nutritional value and cooking methods. You will love this book if you like growing vegetables underground for their unusual taste and ability to store for many weeks.

The Classic Zucchini Cookbook, by Nancy Ralston, Marynor Jordan, and Andrea Chesman has 225 recipes for all types of squash. Summer squash, winter squash, and everything in between are in this book. This book has great starter recipes, salads, and soups dishes, along with vegetarian dishes, breads, deserts, pickling, preserves, and how to freeze squash. Great ideas for dishes, using common or unusual winter squash varieties during the winter on those cold days. On the hot days of summer when zucchini squash is coming out of your ears, there are numerous ideas for new ways to enjoy squash.
Vegetable Soups, by Deborah Madison will show you how to make soup for every occasion, every taste, and every vegetable from your garden. The book is filled with light broths, restorative soups, hearty soups, summer vegetable soups, winter vegetable soups, roasted vegetable soups for the fall and wonderful spring vegetable soups. You will also find many ethnic soups, soups made with grains, lentils and peas or beans. Several chowder's, cold soups that I love and much more to wake up your taste buds. Several of these soups make the perfect meal all by itself.

The last book I want to mention is the Garden Journal, which I sell on my website. I found this journal at a book show several years ago and feel it is the best tool for the new gardener to document what has happened during the past year in their garden. The journal is unique, because it will last for 3 years and the information you enter in it helps you do a better job the following year, and all your records are together in one book. Go to www.paulparent.com and look it over.

These are just a few of my favorite books that will bring knowledge to your gardening friends and yourself this holiday season. Turn off the television set and read a good gardening book this winter--and when spring arrives you will be able to make magic in your yard. Your local book store or the internet has all of these books available now as the perfect gift for the gardener.
Spike Jone & His City Slickers - All I Want For Christmas (Is My Two Front Teeth) 1948
Spike Jone & His City Slickers - All I Want For Christmas (Is My Two Front Teeth) 1948

Plants for gardeners like this Strawberry begonia
If you're still looking for the perfect gift for your gardening friends and family, here are the plants I recommend you select for them this year. Hanging foliage plants make a great present and most of them will cost you under $25.00 each. With the long gray day of winter ahead of us now, a nice hanging plant in your window will help to bring sunshine into your home this winter. So visit your local greenhouse or garden center and take a look at these plants. If you're purchasing several plants and you're busy with holiday shopping, have them hold them for you until the weekend, and that will also give them time to clean the foliage and wrap the plants for you.

Piggyback Plant
A wonderful foliage plant that grows in ball shape mound of soft green foliage. The leaf is in the shape of a maple leaf; it is covered with fine stiff hair on the top surface. The leaf is on a long stem that is also covered with hair. What gives this plant much of its character is that when the leaf has matured it will begin to form a new plant where the leaf stem and the leaf meet. A small cluster of new leaves will begin to form, giving the plant a nice soft look. You can enjoy the new plants that form on the foliage or pick off a few leaves that have started to produce new plants and stick them in a pot of fresh potting soil. Keep one inch of stem, dip in rooting powder and push stem into the soil. Roots will form in a couple of weeks and in a couple of months your single leaf plant will mature to a 6 inch mound of foliage.

Piggyback plants grow best in a bright window but do not like the summer sun. The plant does best in a cool room--50 to 70 degrees--and should be fertilized monthly all year with a house plant fertilizer like Ferti-lome Blooming and Rooting or Osmocote pellet fertilizer. Keep plants moist but not wet; if your home is warm, misting of the foliage will benefit the plant, especially if you're heating with wood or have forced hot air heat. Insect problems are minimal and the plant is easy to grow even for the beginning gardener.

Wandering Jew
This plant is extremely easy to grow and valued for its colorful foliage, which is striped with shades of purple, white, and green. Some varieties will have a solid green or purple underside, giving the plant additional character. The leaves form on stiff stems that grow quickly and cascade down--often growing 2 to 3 feet long in just a year or less. Plants do best in a window with bright to average sunlight, where the room stays at 60 to 70 degrees year-round. Fertilize monthly and water when needed, as the plants do best when allowed to dry between each watering, especially during the winter months. When the plant becomes too long for your window, just cut it back, and root the new growth on the tip of the branches. Make a cut just below a leaf node 3 to 4 inches long and dip in rooting powder, Put 3 to 5 cuttings in a 4 inch pot filled with fresh potting soil and keep moist. Roots will form in just 7 to 10 days. Insect problems are minimal and the plant is recommended for new gardeners, especially if it is their first time growing house plants in the window.

Heartleaf Philodendron
A very easy to grow and versatile hanging plant for the gardener who has moderate to low light in the windows. The plant will tolerate temperatures from 55 to 75 degrees and do very well in a room that is heated with a wood stove or forced hot air heat system. The leaves are in the shape of a small delicate heart and are naturally waxy looking--often showy with great luster. Plants do best when kept moist but during the winter months allow the soil to become slightly dry between each watering. Fertilize monthly year round with general purpose plant food or Osmocote plant pellets. Vining stems will cascade easily, or you can wrap stems around container to produce a more ball shaped plant--or just prune the long stems to control the size of the plant. You can take tip cuttings 3 to 4 inches long just below a leaf node and dip in rooting powder for quick root formation, and in just 2 weeks the new roots will form. The Heartleaf Philodendron will make a great plant for the first time gardener or an older and more experienced gardener who likes something more dainty looking for a big window or plant room.

Prayer Plant:
This is a plant that has the ability to fold its leaves prayer-like in response to darkness. In the morning, the sunlight will cause the leaves to resume their horizontal position. Plants do great in a north or east window or even under fluorescent lights in an office. Plants do best when kept warm--65 to 80 degrees-- and with raised humidity, by misting the plant a few days a week or keeping it in a room with a humidifier. Fertilize monthly year-round and water to keep the soil moist at all times (but not wet). The leaf is oval, 4 to 6 inches long and 4 inches wide, with a rounded tip. The leaf has a mottled look with several shades of green to black colored bands and also orange lines that give the leaf a peacock feather look. The plant tends to grow more horizontally than cascading like other types of hanging baskets. A very easy-to-grow plant for all levels of knowledge about growing plants. The plant has few problems with insects.

Goldfish Plant
Here is a wonderful hanging plant with rich dark green foliage that is shiny and compact growing. As a bonus, the plant will produce bright orange goldfish-shaped flowers by the dozens spring until fall--or place the plant in a south- facing window and add a plant grow light for flowers all year long. The plant grows best in a warm room from--65 to 75 degrees--and it will not tolerate drafts. Feed every two weeks when in bloom and then monthly when flowering has stopped for the year. Keep soil moist when in bloom and then allow to almost dry out between each watering when the plant is not in flower. Good humidity around the plant encourages it to grow better and flower more often. Dry, hot rooms that have hot air heat or wood stoves will have few to no flowers and plants will tend to grow more opened.

The new growth tends to grow with arching branches and cascades downwards, making a nice hanging plant. DO NOT MIST plants during the winter, as fungus disease can develop. Keep plants indoors during the summer months, as this plant will do best if kept inside year round. Direct sunlight during the months of October to May and bright east window exposure rest of the year is needed for the best growth. A little extra work is needed to care for this plant but you will be rewarded with beautiful flowers for your efforts.

Strawberry Begonia
If your window space is limited, then this is one of the plants you want growing in your window. This carefree plant loves bright light and east or even a west facing window. Plants do best in a cool room 50 to 70 degrees. Water as needed but keep soil moist spring to fall and water less while dormant from fall to winter season. Fertilize monthly year round when watering.

The foliage will grow in rosettes, like the foliage of a strawberry plant in your garden--and some plants will have red hair growing on the foliage and stems of the plant. The underside of the foliage is often red, giving the plant additional character. The foliage is often mottled with white streaks in the leaf or there are green and white variegated varieties available for contrast. Mature plants produce robust crops of little plantlets born on dangling runners up to 24 inches long that add to the charm of this plant. The plantlets can be easily rooted to make new plants. This is an easy to care for plant for the beginner or season gardener and one that should be considered for a gift plant.

Spider Plant
This is the best plant for the beginner gardener and makes an excellent house plant. The plant has strap-like leaves that are variegated green and white. Plants with a white center and green outer edge are stronger growing than the green center and white edge. Spider plants are the top air cleaner plants for your home; they remove airborne pollutants. Plants grow best in bright to moderate light windows year round. The spider plant loves a warm to hot room with temperatures 65 to 75 degrees and warmer for the best growth. Fertilize every month all year long and water as needed, keeping the soil moist from spring to fall and watering less from fall and during the winter months when most plants grow very little due to short days.

If your plant begins to develop brown tips you could be on a public water system and fluoride and other minor contaminants could be present in the water. If this is a problem with your plant, fill a container with water the night before watering your plants and let sit out until the morning. In the morning mix the water to release the gas bubbles and water your plants. To start new plants, just pull small spider plants from the long cascading stems and push plant in pots filled with soil. New plants will root in a week or two and quickly begin to grow quickly into large and productive plants. Every home needs to have a spider plant in a window and small spider plants in a glass of water or pot of soil on the window sill.

This plant has the reputation as the plant that is easiest to grow in your home! The plant produces long stems that cascade down from the rim of the pot, and that cascading vine has nice shiny heart-shaped leaves covering it. The leaves are 2 to 4 inches long and have a natural shine to them, giving the plant a pleasant appearance. The heart-shaped leaf is often variegated green and white in color and the best plants those with deeper green and less white coloration on them. The new varieties of pothos with more white than green coloration are nice but not as strong growing as the deeper green varieties.

These plants do well in low light to bright light and prefer temperatures of above 60 degrees or warmer for the best growth. Water evenly all year but the plant will tolerate dryer conditions during the winter months. Yellow foliage usually means too much water is being given to the plant. Insect problems are minimal; this is another plant to consider for the beginner gardener. The pothos also makes a wonderful plant for your office. If you have cats that play with your plants, damaging the foliage, this plant will stop the damage, as it produces a nonlethal poisonous sap that will cause a burning sensation in the mouth of the cat; the cat will stop playing with your plants quickly.

English Ivy
This is a plant that has hundreds of varieties available to you, with different leaf sizes, leaf textures, leaf coloration and even leaf shapes. The leaves are produced on strong wiry stems that cascade down from the rim of the pot to a length of 2 to 4 feet long. The leaves will grow 2 to 4 inches long and are glossy and colorful. Plants prefer a brightly lit window and moderate light during the winter. The plant will tolerate cool temperatures from 50 to 70 degrees and even a drafty window during the winter months. Fertilize monthly year round and water to keep the soil moist at all times even in the winter months. The vines can also be trained to grow up on a wire frame to create a wreath in a pot or trained to become topiary grown on a wire form. This is an easy-to-grow-plant for the beginner or adventurous gardener who is looking for a challenge to create a unique looking plant.

String of Pearls
Now here is a unique looking hanging plant that has foliage like no other plant out there. The plant is considered to be in the succulent family and resembles a long strong cascading string with pea-like ball-shaped foliage. The lime green foliage looks like peas attached to the side of the cascading string. The plant loves the heat--60 to 80 degrees inside your home--and does best in a full sun window facing south. Water as needed but allow the soil to almost dry out between each watering. Run the plant on the dry side during the winter months. Fertilize monthly all year long when you water the plant. Use the same care as with a jade plant and keep plants away from drafty windows. If a branch of pea-shaped foliage should break from the plant, just lay it on the top of a pot of soil and it will quickly root to the soil and develop new plants form the vine. This is an easy-to-care-for plant as long as you go easy on the watering, especially during the winter months. Perfect for the experienced gardener or one who needs a a plant that will do real well in a hot and dry room that has a wood stove.

Gene Autry - Rudolph The Red-Nosed Reindeer (1953)
Gene Autry - Rudolph The Red-Nosed Reindeer (1953)

"Meet me under the mistletoe! My love the wise men followed the star, the same way I follow my heart for you"

French Canadian Pork Pie (Tourtiere)

Every nationality has their own special Christmas dishes for Christmas Dinner and my family has the Pork Pie that brings our heritage together for this special meal. This recipe came from Canada with my grandparents over 100 years ago and is still cooked the same way today. If you're French Canadian or you know someone who is French Canadian, Just say you're having Pork Pie (Tourtiere) for dinner on Christmas day, and look at their eyes, you will know it is special. Turkey or Ham is secondary for that meal!

2 pounds of fresh ground pork
3 medium potatoes
1 large white or yellow onion, minced
½ teaspoon of salt
½ teaspoon of fresh ground black pepper
½ teaspoon of cinnamon
¼ teaspoon ground clove
1 good dash of ground allspice
Enough water to cover the meat in the pot
2 pie crust, top, and bottom
1 tablespoon of milk


1} Peal your potatoes and boil them like your making mash potatoes, until tender. Remove from the water and set to one side.

2} Place your ground pork with onions, salt, pepper, allspice in a medium size pot and add enough water to cover the meat and onions. Bring to a quick boil, and then lower the heat to simmer. I use a whisk to break up the meat as it cooks to keep is nice and fluffy. Cook for about 1 hour or until most of the water has evaporated and the meat has browned, not fried! Leave the whisk in the pot and every 10 to 15 minutes mash up the meat so it does not stick together keeping it fluffy.

3} When the pork is almost cooked place the bottom pie crust in a deep dish pie plate. Turn on your oven at 350 degrees.

4} Take your potatoes and mash them with a fork but you want them on the chunky side not fine like mash potatoes. Mix the potatoes in the pot of cooked Pork and add the ground Clove, and Cinnamon. Blend well with your whisk and your potatoes will be there to help bind the pork mixture together. Spoon in the pork mixture and spread it evenly. Place your top crust on the pie and with a fork seal the two crusts around the edge of the rim of the pie plate after you have painted the top crust with a bit of milk. Cut 3 to 5 steam vents in the top crust and bake for 45 to 50 minutes. If the edges brown to fast cover them with a bit of foil strips.

5} Serve the Pork pie warm out of the oven or bake it the day before if you need the oven for Turkey or Ham. Just heat the pie in the oven until it is hot the next day before serving.

6} I make 2 pies at the same time so I double the recipe and keep one pie for dinner and cut the second pie into 6 pieces. Cover each piece with aluminum foil and place in a freezer bag. Place in freezer for a cold had when you crave Comfort food and microwave or heat in the oven until hot. You're in for a real treat, enjoy!



Garden Journal

        Garden Journal - A garden is a friend you can visit any time. Gardens require planning and cultivation, yielding beauty and joy. This garden journal helps make planning and organizing easy. This book makes a great gift for gardeners, family, friends, birthdays, Christmas, new home or as a self purchase.


Cover holds a 5 x7 or 4x6 photo, Heavy-duty D-ring binder

1. 8 tabbed sections
2. 5 garden details sections with pockets for seeds, tags....
3. Weather records page
4. 6 three year journal pages
5. Insect & diseases page - 3 project pages
6. 3 annual checklist pages
7. Plant wish list page
8. 2 large pocket pages
9. Sheet of garden labels
10. 5 garden detail sheets
11. 5 graph paper pages for layouts
12. 5 photo pages holds - 4- 4x6 photos in landscape or portrait format

Journal, Planning, Inspirations. 

 To Order call 207-590-4887

Regular price $34.95  Special Price $31.95!  special!        Supplies are now limited!


*How to print article's from our Newsletter -  Constant contact does not allow us to print articles one at a time

Do not use the "Print" icon unless you want to print the whole web page or email. Instead, follow the next steps.

Select the text you want on a web page where there is a story, paragraph, or a few lines that you want to print. Left-click on the mouse at the beginning and drag across to the end of the text you want and release. While the text is selected (highlighted), go to the top menu line and click "File" / "Print", in the print window that shows.  click on "Selection," and then click the OK or Print button. Some printers need you to select apply .

Do the same for emails. If you want to print a joke or article that you receive, do not click the Print icon. Select the text as above and use the "File" / "Print" menu and click "Selection", click OK or "Print".

Try another way to do a print job for text only. This involves selecting the text you want as above; then right click, copy and right click, paste to a word processor or even Wordpad (located in "Start" / "Programs" / "Accessories" / "Wordpad") and print from there. This method will produce a copy with no extra information. 

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