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December 14, 2004



It's that time of the year - and there I was - in the middle of the dreaded holiday press, making lists, thinking of where to go for this or that, when I had a thought about what I want.

What would I like most for a present - of course it would be a horticulture-related item, or items. Being a nerdy academic, you can guess that I'd go for books, first of all.

So here's a few books that I haven't read, but that I think are going to be really interesting when I get around to them.

Three that I'm looking forward to were published by Timber Press this year. The first is Ecology for Gardeners. It discusses the ecosystems that we create within our own little spaces. Sometimes we do forget about the "worlds within worlds" that exist in the soil, and even around the plants that we put there.

Or Planting Green Roofs and Living Walls. It's a 'how-to' for putting plants in somewhat unlikely places, changing the outside environment to make the inside environments more comfortable and sustainable. .

And there's another book on those plants we grow for healing. It's called, not too excitingly, Medicinal Plants of the World. I've been fascinated by plants that we use as medicines ever since I cured a case of indigestion with a cup of peppermint tea.

I got a sale catalog from The Oxford Press that was pretty tempting as well - a bargain price on one of the keystone essays of the environmental movement, A Sand County Almanac by Aldo Leopold. What a classic!

I'm not sure whether these are my wish list or are going to be my shopping list. Probably the latter.

Of course, there are thousands of gardening and horticulture books out there for people who want to give beauty and information; so I won't even try listing them.

Much as I love books, I am always looking for the perfect plant, too. I was thinking what my "perfect house plant" gift would be. Either for myself or even more important, as a hostess gift. Not everyone appreciates a bottle of wine.

Even though I often give cut flowers, if I could come up with an alternative, I would, and a plant seems a likely choice. But then again, if you're going to give somebody a live plant, you'd like to make sure that it has a good chance of survival. But it has to be a little different - things like pothos or philodendron, even ficus seem to say corporate office to me.

I guess that my ideal plant, whether I wanted to give it or keep it, would be at least unusual, but very easy to grow, using only a little water and would do well indoors most of the year on my desk or in the living room.

Fortunately there are lots of them. In fact, not too long ago, I discovered something that absolutely floored me. There are some orchids that are so easy to take care of you would think everyone in the world would have one.

They have such a mystique, that when you have one in bloom in your living room, people think you're a magician! Nope. Just - don't let these plants sit in water, do spray them occasionally, give them lots of well-filtered light, and voila, orchids! But let me repeat, some, not all, orchids. A colleague just told me that growing anthurium is similarly easy - and such interesting flowers!

So surprise the host at the next party you go to this holiday season. Give something completely unexpected, and something that will unexpectedly survive!

This reminds me - even though we're completely accustomed to living in the Mojave Desert, with a humidity of 10% or less, it's winter, and the air in our houses can get even drier when we put the heat on. So if you're using the heat, fireplace or furnace, remember to increase the humidity around your plants. Use a mister, or a spray bottle or a humidifier, just give the plants a break.

But speaking of things that will not survive, let's talk Christmas trees. I mentioned before that we're going to be doing Christmas tree recycling again this year. There are drop-off locations all over town, from the far northwest at Floyd Lamb state park all the way down to the Desert Research Institute in Boulder City.

The trees that are turned in will be ground up, and used as a mulch in county parks and school gardens!

Does everybody know that here in Southern Nevada we have one of the lowest recycling rates in America? You'll be doing great work with what would otherwise be garbage! Less landfill usage and helping to beautify public spaces.

For KNPR's Desert Bloom, this is Dr. Angela O'Callaghan of the University of Nevada Cooperative Extension. Have a happy holiday.

See discussion rules.


AngelaFeb 19, 2015 | Tricky Spring
If you're thinking that our warm weather means your plants are safe from a late frost, you're probably right. But then again, you never know. It only seems that Jack Frost has skipped a visit to Southern Nevada this year. Here's Angela O'Callaghan with Desert Bloom.

NormFeb 14, 2015 | Selective Pruning
Norm Schilling guides gardeners to keep up as Spring approaches. Selective pruning will keep things on track in the yard.

NormJan 21, 2015 | Prepare for Spring Now
Don't look at the calendar. Look at your plants to tell you what do to in the yard right now. Your plants think Spring is near, so use this time to transplant and prune. Desert Gardener Norm Schilling tells us what to look for.

NormDec 30, 2014 | Winter and Citrus
Citrus can thrive in Southern Nevada - even in our cold - when you choose the right varieties. Norm Schilling tells us how.

AngelaDec 13, 2014 | To Prune or Not to Prune
As winter draws near, leaves begin to fall. And the bare view may prompt some excessive pruning. It's tempting, but your plants may appreciate a little restraint. Here's Angela O'Callaghan with Desert Bloom.

NormDec 6, 2014 | Prepare Your Plants for Cold Weather
It's not cold . . . yet, but Norm says be ready and your yard will appreciate it. Don't let a cold snap cost you your investment in plants in your yard. Norm Schilling has some ideas to get ready.

AngelaNov 25, 2014 | Evergreens
As we head into the holiday season, more attention is given to 'evergreens.' Too many cones on a pine tree might be a sign of weakness. Angela O'Callaghan tells us all about evergreens on Desert Bloom.

NormNov 14, 2014 | Fall Colors
Even in the desert, Fall colors can brighten your landscape. Here's Norm Schilling with Desert Bloom.

NormOct 28, 2014 | Fall Colors - Web Only Edition
With glorious weather for our yards to fall back into bloom, Norm has some additional suggestions for color to add to the profusion of blooms for this time of year. (Web-only content)

NormOct 7, 2014 | Second Spring
The call it a "second spring" Norm Schilling has some plan ideas to make Fall colorful in your yard. He has a checklist of plants looking their best, because now is the time to plant in Southern Nevada.

AngelaSep 30, 2014 | Fountain Grass
A weed by any other name is still a weed even if it doesn't look like one. If only everything in our gardens thrived as well as weeds. Here is Angela O'Callaghan.

NormSep 15, 2014 | Desert Heat
Norm describes a significant casualty of the desert heat. There's going to be a big gap in Norm's Yard and a lesson on the reality of our desert landscape.

AngelaAug 12, 2014 | Organic Pesticides
Choosing a method for ridding your garden of an unwanted guest, be it bug or weed, is not always a simple choice. But the more you know, the better it goes. Here's Angela O'Callaghan

NormJul 28, 2014 | Lose that Lawn
We know, it's a desert out there including every place there's a lawn. Norm Schilling reminds us all the ways he wants you to consider losing the lawn... permanently.

AngelaJul 14, 2014 | Protect Fruit Trees from Birds
If you put a good deal of care into growing fruit trees, there are likely some birds who will take advantage of your effort. Here's Angela O'Callaghan.

NormJul 10, 2014 | Palm Care, Part 2
To keep, or not to keep. Norm Schilling ponders his palm trees, on this edition of Desert Bloom.

NormJun 10, 2014 | Palm Care
Norm Schilling has mixed feelings about how we use Palms in our yards. Full grown palm trees transplanted into the entry way of a mall is a common sight that tells Southern Nevadan's "something" is nearly open for business. He reminds us that those palms come with challenges.

AngelaJun 3, 2014 | Hot Weather Plants
As temperatures across the Valley begin to climb, you might be wondering what will survive in your garden in the months ahead and what probably won't. There are some 'sweet' options. Here's Angela O'Callaghan

NormMay 20, 2014 | Desert Color
Norm Schilling just got back from Belize and has some ideas for lush leaves in your desert yard. He reflects on some well suited plants to provide color and variety in this edition of Desert Bloom.

AngelaMay 6, 2014 | Emerald Ash Borer
Raising a healthy shade tree in the Mojave is not always easy. And if one particular insect makes its way here, it could get even harder. Here's Angela O'Callaghan with Desert Bloom.

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