Holiday Traditions

Some years I’m just not ready for the hustle and bustle of Christmas when December 1 rolls around but, honestly… today was different. As if on cue, we awoke to snow this morning…  lovely large flakes of an early season storm that continued for the entire day. Watching the snow fall across the meadow and pond, a cup of coffee in hand, songs of the season on the radio, triggered a festive feeling in me. Greens I left outdoors overnight were embellished by lovely white trimmings.

GreensWe decided then and there to put on our coats and visit University of New Hampshire’s Seventh Annual Poinsettia Trials Open House. The event is held to display the school’s research and breeding information for breeders, growers, and the public. We were greeted by a massive poinsettia Christmas tree and over a hundred varieties of poinsettia plants in such all colors, shapes, size, and variegation, lining the halls and the greenhouses.

treegreenhouseWe were encouraged to vote for our favorites among the new varieties in different color groups or the novelty category. We had fun doing this along with lots of other visitors!


IMG_0016IMG_0007IMG_0051IMG_0049We then visited the greenhouse full of poinsettias for sale, all with splendid names. Can you guess what color we bought….?


IMG_0024Well, if you guessed we bought a red poinsettia, you’re right. Sometimes long standing traditions cannot be changed.

redIt’s Christmas Eve in Bedford Falls on television tonight. George Bailey, with help from his guardian angel, Clarence, will learn for the 66th year in a row that his life of sadness and regret is in fact, a life of prosperity, good fortune and love. I will watch (tissues in hand) the 1946 classic It’s A Wonderful Life  tonight and maybe one or two other times throughout the holiday. It’s another long standing tradition to ready me for the festivities and the reason for the season.

A Touch of Eden

Just about a mile from where we live, there are several large greenhouses on the UNH campus that are used in the agriculture, horticulture, and science departments for classrooms, research projects, breeding, Integrated Pest Management, organic gardening, sustainability studies and more. When I read they were opening the greenhouses to the community last week, we jumped at the opportunity to tour them, learn from professors and master gardeners, plus get a little break from the late winter bleakness.

Yes, there were crowds. We wandered and squeezed around people through the several greenhouses that were all connected to one building where educators, students, master gardeners were set up to answer questions or tell a little about the plants, the greenhouses and how they were managed. There were greenhouses devoted to annuals, some perennials, to crops, to herbs, to exotics and some where only students and staff were allowed entrance.

Hallways were arranged with attractive display gardens… pots, wall hangings, vertical gardens, tulip landscapes and horticulture students like Zack (below), tired from a late night getting ready for the open house, but ready to answer questions.

Zach yawned a bit but he was ready to chat...

We realized that some greenhouse had lots of healthy tomato plants and herbs for sale… CHEAP… and folks were buying and buying.

Other greenhouses held succulents, gorgeous exotics, and all those carnivorous pitcher plants, and orchids, some labeled, others not. There were ferns, a small pond, bananas, oranges… Pinch myself.  Is this Eden?

Flamboyant pitcher traps (Sarracenia levocphylla)

Another pitcher plant (Nepenthes x ventrata) from the Philippines

Orchids galore! (Paphiopedilum insigne)

Pitcher Plant with little bugs inside

Flamingo Flower or Boy Flower (Anthurium scherzerian)

Venus Fly Trap (Dionaea muscipula)

The melon greenhouse was filled with a variety of plants, all grown vertically. Fruits were supported in little hammocks. What a great idea!

And yes, like many others, we did succumb to the lure of healthy, large herb plants.  So we left after an hour and a half with a Tiny Tim tomato plant and some dill…. all for a good cause to raise funds for a trip for the students, we were told.

Now to keep them healthy until May 20 when the last frost is over in these parts…..