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Secret #7

Ahhhh…the scents of the season! It can bring nostalgic memories of past Christmas celebrations. Some smells are of baking cookies and treats, others are fresh greens and a beautiful fir tree. But what ever brings those sweet scents, they also bring a bit of the holiday into your home.

I grew up in the North; the Buffalo area to be exact. And the things I remember most from the holidays are my mother baking TONS of cookies, the wood fire place, the Christmas tree and citrus! Yes, that’s right citrus. Indian River Navel Oranges to be exact. I was in the chorus at school and we sold these tasty treats for fund raisers and they arrived in time for the holidays. There was always a big, sweet juicy orange in the bottom of my stocking on Christmas morning.

But there are other scents, that as a child, I would not have been able to put a name to it. Ready? Here we go…

Paper Whites. You must remember placing these bulbs in rocks and then adding water to start their root growth? When these cousins of the Daffodil open, their white blooms have a strong scent, enough to add fragrance to a large room.

Rosemary. It’s not just for cooking. The tightness of this plant makes it a perfect choice to shape into a small pyramid or Christmas tree shape. Lights and ornaments can easily be added for a festive touch. You can even find them in wreath or heart shapes.

Lavender, fresh and potted in a pretty pot it will add a sweet scent to any room. Bright light is needed to keep it blooming. Don’t be afraid to snip off a piece to use.

Herb Wreaths made of Rosemary, Lavender, Bay Leaves, Eucalyptus will welcome any guest that arrives at your front door for a holiday visit.

Remember I said I loved the smell of citrus? Why not add a small Lemon or Orange citrus tree to your d├ęcor. Bright light and proper moisture are a must, and then the plant can be moved outside when the holidays are over. Or when the weather warms up if you live up north.

Love the idea of a live Pine or Spruce tree to decorate, but hate the idea of cutting a tree down? There is a wonderful alternative. You can buy a potted conifer and decorate it for the holidays. Then afterwards, plant it outside in a pot or in your yard.

There is nothing as sweet or tropical as the scent of a Gardenia blossom. This is a popular plant that is forced into bloom for the holidays. So are many of your seasonal bulbs, (especially Hyacinths) and Roses.

These are just a few of the plants you can add to your home for the holidays. With their scents and the cinnamon and spices from your baking, your home will smell heavenly. Enjoy all the scents of the season and Merry Christmas!

Victoria LK Williams

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Garden Secrets # 6

Happy Holidays!

We’re all ready for some holiday cheer, but before you add that final live touch to your decorating you may want to consider; Pretty or Poison? Who will suffer from ingesting this plant-people or pets? Lets take a look at a few of the most common live plants that we bring into our homes for the holidays.

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Here’s the biggy- your live Christmas tree! Although not really poisonous, if it is eaten, the needles can do some serious damage to your gastrointestinal track. The sap can cause skin irritation. The real danger comes from any fire retardants sprayed on the tree.

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The Poinsettia gets a bad rap. Eating a few leaves will make you ill, but not kill you. The sap will make you itch and stain your tablecloth. It is best to keep away from your cat if she has a habit of eating plants to keep her from getting sick and ruining your rug.

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Holly is a poisonous plant, both the leaves and the berries. Because of it’s brightly colored berries, it is an attraction for children and pets. Keep this holiday decoration up high and out of reach of the wee ones.

There is something wondrously fun about getting a bulb and watching the plants grow and flower from it. But beware; the bulbs of the Amaryllis and Daffodil are poisonous if eaten. Keep this away from your dog, it’s not a toy. Pot the bulb as soon as you can to keep temptation at bay and to start the growth progress.

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This flowering plant is one of my favorites. You will start to see them around Christmas through Easter. They are most popular at Valentines Day. The plant should be kept away from your pets; if they chew on the stems and leaves it will cause nausea, vomiting, convulsions and, if enough is eaten, paralysis.

Another holiday favorite is the Christmas Cactus. Not poisonous to us, but it will make your cat sick!

Not as common as some of the other holiday plants, the Jerusalem Cherry is a nice addition to the decorations with it’s bright red fruit. For humans the fruit will cause vomiting, but for cats, dogs and some birds, the fruit is toxic.

And finally that one plant we all want hanging in the door way so a kiss can be stolen, is the favorite Mistletoe. All parts of the mistletoe plant are poisonous, not just the berries. Eating this plant can cause blurred vision, nausea, stomach cramps, diarrhea, blood pressure changes and even death. So, lets only kiss under the Mistletoe, and don’t nibble on the plant.

We all want to have our homes beautifully decorated for the holidays, but remember to be safe too. Merry Christmas and Happy New Year to you all.

Victoria LK Williams