Monday, December 22, 2008

Holiday Greetings

This kitty and mouse have the right idea. . . Time for a long Christmas nap and dreams of spring. . .Wishing all my blogging friends and visitors a HAPPY HOLIDAY AND A WONDERFUL 2009.

PlantBuddy is taking a sunny break and will be back in the NEW YEAR.

Thursday, December 18, 2008

Tree-Hugger Christmas Trees

Some people call it a "Seasonal Tree". . . others a "Hanukkah Bush". . . For 2008 a new name has popped up, "Holiday Joy Tree". . . This latest incarnation of the Christmas Tree can be seen in Zellers advertising flyers. . . So, take your pick of names, but the one I've made up is . . . Huggable Christmas Tree. . .for all the tree-huggers who prefer a real fir or pine tree aka evergreens.


Cedar (Pinus cedrus). . .mentioned in the Bible, it was considered a sacred tree by the Jews. . .The Egyptians used cedar wood for coffins as its rich cedar smell drove away insects. . .We still use cedar wood to line closets for the same reason. . .Native Canadians make a cedar tea and serve it during times of teaching to focus the mind. . .During the Christmas season, credar wreaths are availble at gardening stores and markets. . .or make one yourself and hang it on a door or over the fireplace.

Spruce (Pica abies) is the most popular evergreen used as a Christmas Tree. The scent of its needles has a calming effect. . . the wonderful aroma of the essential oil contained in the spruce fills a room with freshness. . . A drop of spruce essential oil added to bathwater can sooth ragged nerves. . . Originally, fir trees (evergreens) were brought into a room in the belief that forest spirits would tag along. People believed the spirts would bring protection to the home. The Norway Spruce is symbolic of life enduring, and is one of the trees considered to be sacred. . . The fir tree in St. Peter's Square this Christmas is a 33 meter Norway Spruce. Donated to the Vatican by Austrians, all the wood from this giant tree will be recycled into children's toys and furniture.

The branches of Juniper with its blue berries is an important Christmas evergreen. . . In Medieval times the branches were burned and the smoke would act as a disinfectant purifying the air in hospital rooms. . . The berries were used as a cooking spice and an ingredient when brewing beer and gin.

The tradition of burning Yule logs in the fireplace in winter is a symbolic ritual going back to Europe and Scandinavian countries. Logs of Ash or Oak were burned to honor the World Tree (Back then people were even bigger treehuggers than they are today). . . Yule logs were burned in combination with herbs and grains. . . Figures of straw animals also were burned with the logs during the Yule feast. The Yugoslavians burned "forest incense" pine needles and pine resin along with barley on their Yule log. . . This Yule Log tradition was brought to America by the English colonists.


Lady's Bedstraw (Galium verum). . . According to legend, Jesus' cradle in the manger was lined with Lady's Bedstraw. . . It's a sweet smelling herb. . . Traditionally, this and other plants like Thyme and St. John's wort, along with Galium verum, has been used for hundreds of years to stuff mattresses. . . The scent of the herbs supposedly repelled fleas.
The evergreen Rosmary has strongly aromatic leaves and smell like incense. . .On the winter solstice, the Berbers of Morocco smudge (burn) rosemary leaves. . .Peruvians consider the evergreen Coca Bush to be a sacred plant. . .In Latin American Christmas folk legend, the Virgin Mary rested under the coca bush during her escape into Egypt, she chewed some leaves and felt refreshed and confident. . .(just like stopping for a coffe break.)


Visit the website, Today's Flowers for more pictures of plants and flowers from around the globe.
Visit the website, Scenic Sunday to view photographs taken by bloggers around the world.
Visit the website, Beverly's Pink Saturday for 82 bloggers/crafters who like the color pink.

Sunday, December 14, 2008

Flowers For Christmas Cheer

Plant Buddy's Christmas Holiday Flowers and Plants . . .Some plants such as the Holly and Mistletoe (see last week's post) come with ancient traditions and stories that have travelled through time. . . The Ivy (Hedera helix) was traditionally thought of as a woman's plant . . .the Holly was held to be a man's plant. . .The Greeks associated ivy with happiness and honor. . . In ancient times ivy and holly were twined around poles to decorate winter festivals in Europe. . .Herbs such as Laurel (Bay leaves) were used as a charm to ward off thunderstorms, witches, and devils. . . Then in later times on Holy Saturday the same plant was used to spread on church floors as a symbol of purification. . .Scroll back a couple of week for another Christmas favourite, Amaryllis. . .a proud, haughty, splendid plant that has a strong association with this time of year. . .Today, I'm featuring some more traditional holiday plants. . .Poinsettia, Christmas Cactus, and Cyclamen. . . These three plants have something in common. . .they are amongst the newer line of traditional holiday plants of the New World. . .they have no legends attached. . .But interesting to know more about. . .Since we all want to try out these flowering plants in our homes, it's good to know about their natural habitat.

Just a note to let you know. . .all holiday plants are available on line. . . Use the Search Box here on the blog. . . Enter the Name of the Plant and your City. . . for a list of places in your area with best prices and freshest plant material for gift giving and decorating.

Poinsettia was unknown to Christians before Spanish missionaries came to Mexico. . . Native to the New World, this beautiful plant was originally a wild shrub growing in the jungles of Mexico. . . It has become a beloved traditional Christmas houseplant all over the world. . . In Sweden it's called "Christmas Star Plant". . . The real flower is the tiny yellow buds in the center of the red bracts or leaves. . . How Poinsettia got its name: While serving as a United States ambassador to the new republic of Mexico, Joel Poinsett discovered the plant, which received his name. He brought specimens back to the United States. . . Because poinsettia could be made to flower in winter, it soon became a popular Christmas decoration and a holiday gift plant. . .Warning to Parents and Pet Owners: Care should be taken when handling it. The milky sap that oozes from broken stems and leaves can irritate the eyes. Keep all plants away from children and pets.

Christmas Cactus (Schlumbergera). . . has no Christmas story. It is not even a cactus!. . . This plant hates sand and doesn't grow anywhere near a desert. . . Actually, it's an epiphytic (air) plant. . . Similar to the Mistletoe . . the Christmas Cactus lives high up in tree tops. . . It's home is the Brazilian jungle. . . In nature, it clings to the bark of host trees in little pockets of leaf mold where it thrives in heat and humidity, frequent showers and dappled sunlight. . . Plant growers discovered that Schlumbergera sets its buds and begins to bloom in winter. . . It's the change to shorter days and cooler temperatures that signals many tropical plants to start their bloom cycle. . . So, to make a long story short, they called it Christmas Cactus. The official botanical name is in brackets above. And for my next flowering plant. . .

Cyclamen . . .Here's another attractive plant you will see everywhere during the Christmas and holiday season. . .Not an official Christmas plant like the Mistletoe and Holly that come with ancient stories and legends. . . the cyclamen just looks nice and easily flowers in winter. The dark and light green pattern on it's rounded leaves . . plus the cheery red flowers. . .also comes in snowy white. . . make this handsome plant hard to resist. To keep Cyclamen looking fresh and perky, place the plant away from heat and bright sunlight. . .A perfect gift plant for someone living in an apartment with a north-east exposure.
Hope you enjoyed the Flowering Plants of Christmas series. Next week I'll continue with . . .
The Trees of Christmas.