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Don't neglect gardens during busy holidays

Thanksgiving has passed and we are moving toward the winter holidays at top speed. Some of you may already feel a bit panicked at the sight of your "to do" list, while others may take a more laid-back approach.

We dragged the holiday decorations down from the attic and out of closets last weekend.

Even after living in Florida for 15 years, it still seems a little odd to be decorating for Christmas in a shirt and shorts with all the doors and windows open.

The calendar says December, the weather may not. That said, there are still winter chores to accomplish in our yards. A little labor now will make for a more beautiful springtime garden.

As always, look for weeds in your garden and get rid of them. They still can go to seed and this will only make them more prevalent when the weather warms up. You can pull or hoe them out or use an herbicide.

Many blooming perennials are doing just that - blooming! The cooler weather seems to have refreshed them and the colors appear even brighter. As the flowers fade make sure you remove them from the plant.

This is also a good time to add more perennials to your beds. If you are adding new plants, you must keep them watered. Even though the temperatures have dropped, the plants will still need water until established.

I was thinking about pulling out my African marigolds a few weeks ago, but fertilizer, some water and the cool weather seems to have revived them. I'm glad I left them in the beds. They should be fine now until we get some extended cold weather.

The yellow flowers look nice surrounded by the red rose shrubs I recently planted. Once the marigolds are removed, the roses will fill in nicely.

I do have to remind myself to water my orchids and other potted plants on a regular basis. With no rain, they dry out quickly even in the cool weather. Many of the orchids are blooming so I like to water them a little more often than I usually do.

I have plans to move one of my orchid hangers. This is a large pot about two thirds of the way full of concrete with tall upright plant hangers embedded in the concrete. It must weigh at least 100 pounds.

I remember moving it in the past, but I can't budge it now. I will have to get the hand truck so I can move it from under the maple tree to under the oak tree. It will be easier to see from the lanai. This will have to be a project completed with my husband's help.

I still haven't placed all the bricks around the perimeter of the cage over the pool. I had someone hired to do it but haven't heard from him in awhile, so I've decided to do it myself.

Now that the weather is cooler I won't mind (quite so much) hauling the bricks around back and placing them around the screen. It will make it easier to maintain and mow the grass in that area.

I also purchased some solar lights to place between some of the bricks. I plan on buying the bricks this week so I can complete the project next weekend.

That is the only laborious project I have planned for this winter, but, of course, that doesn't mean that I might not come up with others.

Until then, I'll just maintain what I have and try not to forget the needs of the garden during the busy holiday season. In fact, your nicely maintained yard may serve as a bit of a respite during the busy month ahead.

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