Nestled as it is between Halloween and Christmas, Thanksgiving
sometimes gets lost in the shuffle--and, if you think about it, that
really is a shame. Despite all the bad news we are subjected to
daily, we all have so many things to be thankful for. Thanksgiving
gives us a great opportunity to reflect on all of our blessings, even
if it's just one day a year!
Like the holiday itself, decorating for the day also sometimes gets
overlooked. With the anticipation of the extensive efforts Christmas
decorating requires, it seems tempting to limit our preparations for
Thanksgiving to the food (no small feat in itself) and call it a day.
Everyone knows that even a delicious dinner benefits from a little
ambiance, and the good news is that Thanksgiving decorating can be
fairly simple--in fact, some of the same decorations that were just
used for Halloween can be pressed into service for an encore
performance on Thanksgiving! With a short trip to the garden center
and a walk around your neighborhood or yard, you will have a wealth
of materials to create the perfect setting for your Thanksgiving
Chances are you still have some un-carved pumpkins left over from your
Halloween decorating. Use your pumpkins on your front porch combined
with some potted chrysanthemums or ornamental cabbage or kale. Use
pots of different heights and shapes to provide visual interest for
an eye-catching display visible from the street.
Now for the front door--decorate a straw- or moss-covered wreath form
with your choice of the following items: branches of colorful
foliage, fall flowers, Indian corn, berries, tiny pumpkins and/or
gourds, miniature pomegranates, apples, pears, oranges, acorns and
small pine cones, and finish it off with a bow made of raffia or
burlap. Choose either fresh or faux materials, or use a mixture of
both (the more perishable items, such as flowers and some of the
fruit should probably be faux, to extend the life of your wreath).
Cut flower arrangements lend a special feeling to the home wherever
and whenever they are used. During the fall, focus on using materials
more conducive in color and texture to the season. Good choices for
flowers are calendula, gaillardia, coreopsis, sunflowers, orange
roses and orange alstroemeria. Plants with colorful foliage like
ginkgo, maple, Chinese pistache, liquidambar and nandina provide
added texture and color. Add some berry sprays from California holly,
nandina or pyracantha along with some ornamental grass plumes and you
will have a memorable arrangement.
Seating areas such as couches, chairs and love seats can undergo an
inexpensive seasonal makeover by simply changing the throw cushions.
Substitute lighter fabrics for heavier richer ones and change bright
or pastel colors to warmer, muted tones. Add a comfy afghan or throw
to create a truly cozy atmosphere.
Last but not least, we need to decorate the holiday table. Using a
faux autumn-themed garland, create a serpentine pattern down the
center of the table, lengthwise. Choose several (an odd number is
best) bright red apples or miniature pumpkins. Hollow out a space (on
the stem end) of each apple or pumpkin just large enough to
accommodate a votive candle. Insert one votive candle in each piece
of fruit or pumpkin and place them sporadically on either side of
garland. Light the candles and count your blessings!
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- Cover strawberry beds with 2" of straw (not hay). This will protect the plants from cold and winds, control weeds and warm the soil earlier in the spring.
- Clean up all fallen leaves from blueberry beds, then add a 2" thick layer of pine needles, straw or pine bark mulch around the plants. This will insulate the roots during the winter.
- Sharpen, clean and repair all hand tools before storing them.
- If rainfall has been light, deeply water all trees and shrubs before the ground freezes.
- Protect any half-hardy shrubs by surrounding them with a wire cage and cover them with a thick layer of dry leaves.
- Wrap the trunks of young trees to protect their tender bark from frost injury.
- If you haven't already, cut grass low to prevent mold from forming under snow cover.
- After the ground freezes, cover perennials with mulch; this will prevent frost-thaw cycles from heaving them out of the ground.
- Turn the compost pile and add water if it feels dry.
- Prune roses back to 8"-12" tall, mound compost around the bud union and cover with a rose cone.
- If you are planning to plant a live Christmas tree, dig the hole now before the ground freezes.
- Continue raking and shredding leaves to add to the compost pile.
- Mulch plants you want to overwinter with a thick layer of straw.
- Last chance to plant spring-blooming bulbs such as daffodils and tulips.
- If you didn't do it last month, cut back perennials, clean all beds of leaves and weeds and edge your lawn.
- Don't feed your houseplants through the winter, but give them as much light as possible.
- Clean the foliage of houseplants that will tolerate it (those with smooth, un-fuzzy leaves). Wash both sides. This removes the dust, which allows them to breathe better; it also gives you a great opportunity to check for insects.
- Make sure you allow your houseplants to dry out between waterings; they do not use as much water in winter as they do in the spring.
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