The Garden Plot

Ray Baird

Monday was National Poinsettia Day: Poinsettia Day honors Joel Robert Poinsett. When Poinsett was in Mexico in 1851 he was introduced to the beautiful red leafy flower that was a native plant of Mexico. Poinsett brought some plants back to the United States and introduced them to growers and they are now known as Poinsettias named after Joel Robert Poinsett. The birthday of Poinsett is Monday December, 12, 2016 and is also celebrated as National Poinsettia Day. The Poinsettia has become known as America’s Christmas flower and has become the illustration for many Christmas cards, pictures and symbols. The poinsettia has progressed through the years and many colors and varieties are now available in colors of red, white, pink, rose and light orange. An interesting feature of poinsettias is the fact that the “flowers’ are actually leaves too.

Raising an Amaryllis for Christmas Beauty: These pretty flowers can be purchased now in kit form at Walmart, garden shops, seed stores, Lowes and Home Depot. The kit comes in a box that contains the pot, the soil and the bulb for around five dollars. They make a wonderful Christmas gift. The bulb can be planted in a bigger container for growth all year. The kit has complete planting instructions. If you plant one now, it will be well on the way to bloom at or after Christmas. The trumpet-shaped flowers herald the arrival of Christmas and provide a touch of green in winter. The amaryllis comes in colors of red, white and coral.

Christmas Dinner for All the Winter Birds: During the days before Christmas, if you have any baked, boiled or fried potatoes left chop them up in tiny chunks and spread them around the lawn for a high-energy snack for the birds of winter. You can also make a homemade pinecone bird feeder by out of pinecones. You will start by collecting pinecones, the bigger the better but make sure they are opened up for plenty of seeds. Tie a string around the top or bottom of the pinecone, depending upon which has the strongest hold. Mix ½ cup peanut butter with ½ cup oats/cornmeal. Use a spoon (or fingers!) to spread the mixture onto and into the nooks and crannies of the pinecone. Place your birdseed mixture into a pie tin and roll the pinecone in the seed mixture. You can also use your fingers. Once the pinecone is ready, hang your pinecone feeder in a tree just outside you window. This is a wonderful project for you and your children or grandchildren.

A Trip to the Country Stores of Yesterday: The supermarkets and big box stores have replaced the general stores and old fashioned country stores and even most small grocery stores, but we are glad that there are still a few that are thriving in our area. We love these stores especially at this time of year with the smell of country ham, fatback meat, fruits and fruitcakes. A visit to a country store at Christmastime is a very special treat and the stores are filled with barrels and tins of old fashioned yesteryear. Christmas candies such as Ribbon and hard mix Christmas candy, peppermint sticks, bonbons, chocolate drops, coconut rainbow ribbon candy, macaroons, circus peanut candy, sugar and spice plum drops, orange slices, candy corn and root beer barrels. They sell fruit by the box, bag or pound and country hams, side meat, oysters as well as fruitcakes of several varieties, clustered raisins and jams, preserves, jellies, pickles and relishes of all kinds. There are several of these stores and one is near where you live. One is Mast General store in downtown Winston-Salem and a few blocks away is Ronnie’s Country Store on Cherry Street. Carolina Produce is another very large country store. Take the kids and grandkids on a memorable Christmas adventure and the sights, smells and items in a country. Treat them to lunch at Cousin Gary’s in Pilot Mountain or Hungry Farmer in Cana, Virginia to top off the trip.

The Most Unforgettable of Christmas Trees: As a twelve year old boy growing up in a northeastern North Carolina, I saw one of the most beautiful Christmas trees and it was not on Main Street or a huge department store or a rich person’s home or not even in a church, but in the living room of Patricia, a childhood sweetheart whose grown eyes resembled Christmas ornaments what made her family’s tree so extraordinary was that it was not a cedar, a pine or a spruce or a fir, but a fresh-cut American holly complete with red berries and thorny green shiny leaves. This tree, before any decorations and only cotton snow underneath, it was beautiful enough by itself. The tree was adorned with all bubble lights, round silver ornaments, silver roping, icicles and a star on the top. A tree like none other than my eyes has ever beheld. That tree is long gone but still very much burning in the windmill of my mind, and so are Patricia and her brown eyes that reflected that beautiful holly Christmas tree. Patricia is now a memory of childhood from the 1950’s. She passed away about six years ago of cancer, but the memory of that tree, the reflection of that tree glowing in her brown eyes and on her face is still very much alive at Christmastime.

Ray Baird