By: Lisa Briggs | Thursday, Dec. 17th, 2020
Snowstorms have a wonderful way of slowing everything down, forcing us to live in the moment. All of the distracting details of daily life that ordinarily occupy every moment of your time are suddenly moved to the back burner. Your mind clears as you focus on the storm and the immediate tasks at hand. For us, gardening does the same thing. It allows us to slow down, breathe and enjoy the simple pleasures of a new leaf or flower bud. During the holidays, when we need stress relief the most, we turn to gardening again and again, not only because it’s our passion, but because it is also our favorite form of therapy.
Lose yourself in the beauty of an orchid flower for just an instant and feel your blood pressure drop. Delight in the way the sunlight plays on the surface of a spiny cactus stem and sense your smile. Be amazed as an amaryllis reaches upward and stretch yourself inwardly as well. These are the moments that help us get through one of the most hectic and stressful times of the year.
Gardening projects in this season don’t have to be large and they don’t need to be complicated. Simpler is better as far as we’re concerned. Small blooming plants don’t take up much space or require much care. Our favorites are mostly in the Gesneriad family, home of the famous African Violet. They can have, shall we say, an “old lady plant” image, but they are among the most collectable and sought after plants in the greenhouse industry. If you’ve never grown a violet from a leaf cutting you should really try it. It’s quite fascinating to watch and can lend a great sense of accomplishment to novice gardeners. Seeing the first tiny leaves of the new baby violet emerge is wondrous.
Propagating violets is really easy. All you’ll need are small, clean pots with drainage holes and some lightweight potting soil suitable for houseplants. Cut a midsize leaf, including the stem, from the violet you are propagating. Fill your pot with potting mix and insert the leaf stem into the mix about an inch deep. The oval leaf blade will be sticking up out of the container. Lightly water and place in a warm location. After a few weeks, look closely and you will start to see a teeny tiny violet plant starting to grow off of the old leaf stem. That’s it. You did it! The waiting is the hardest part of the entire process.
Cacti and succulents are always fascinating to grow and observe. We always think of them fondly as the sculpture gardens of the plant world. There are thousands of species, each one uniquely interesting in its own way. If you have a cool room in the house, you might even get some of them to bloom in the spring. Cool to cold temperatures help to set the flower buds and start the flowering process in motion. Keep in mind that the plants still need sunshine, but not much water at this time of year.
How about enjoying the science and art of aromatherapy right in your own kitchen? Herbs, whether culinary or strictly aromatic, can lighten up a dreary winter day and also spice up your dinner. A sunny windowsill can be home to small pots of lavender, rosemary, basil, or any herb you can think of. Start from seeds or buy the plants already started. Herbs can change your mood if you give them a chance. Crush some fresh lavender leaves for a calming effect after a hard day out shopping or brew some tea with fresh mint leaves to perk up after work. Herbs don’t require much more than a sunny window. Use the leaves fresh or dry some for potpourri or make a sachet to scent a drawer.
We are all looking to a quiet Christmas and a peaceful transition into 2021. We wish the same for you and yours. Happy Holidays!