Decking the Halls

It’s Christmas time and our thoughts turn to gardening.

Will the amaryllis and paperwhites be in bloom on Christmas Day?

Will that poinsettia keep all its leaves just a few more days, the one we bought even after we swore we weren’t going to buy one this year?

Will there be a few gardening gifts under the tree on Christmas morning, like maybe a compost thermometer?

It’s curious how so many people who don’t have house plants or garden much at all during the rest of the year end up with so many plants inside at Christmas time.

They deck the halls with boughs of holly, gather around their Christmas trees, and decorate the mantles with holiday greenery. They buy poinsettias and Norfolk Island Pines and maybe even grow an amaryllis or a few paperwhites, or at least try to grow them if someone gives them one as a gift.

Several years ago I bought a copy of Decking the Halls: The Folklore and Traditions of Christmas Plants by Linda Allen. Each year around the holidays, when I unpack all the holiday decorations, I find this book neatly packed away with a few other Christmas books.

I usually end up reading through it during the season to remind myself of all the traditions behind these plants that are so intertwined with our holiday celebrations. One year, I even put it in my purse and took it to Christmas eve services to read before the service began. (In my defense, we had to get there way early to get a good seat!)

If you have an interest in why and how all these plants ended up being such a big part of what makes Christmas feel like “Christmas” to so many people, you might consider asking Santa to put a copy of this book under the Christmas tree, right beside that compost thermometer you asked for.


  1. This looks like a book I'd want to read. And I had never heard of it. Thanks!

  2. Merry Christmas Carol...I hope there are garden gifts galore under the tree for you, maybe a new hoe will find its way to your garden!


  3. Merry Christmas! Wesolych Swiat, Carol!

  4. A very merry Christmas to you and yours, Carol! May your thumb and your houseplants be evergreen.


  6. Looks good to me too...I'll have to look for it!

  7. Sounds like a very interesting book. Have a Merry Christmas.

    Always Growing

  8. Ah yes, only a true gardener would ask for a compost thermometer for Christmas!


  9. Rather than your compost thermometer I would like to have a compost pile that stays hot enough to measure the temperature. It heats up and then poof it cools down and no matter what I do, turning, watering etc. that's the end of the heat. I think our problem is no grass to put in it. Also, I must have a Norfolk Island pine. A friend had her 6 ' tree decorated with lights and it was as beautiful as any Christmas Tree. I wonder how quickly they grow?

  10. Carol, Merry Christmas! (a little late). No poinsettias for me!


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