Green Tips for the Holidays: Part 2

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green_xmasLast year Deb wrote a wonderful article on how to GO GREEN FOR THE HOLIDAYS and I thought I’d follow up with some of our favorite ideas and links for a Greener Holiday this year.  This year we’ve been trying our best to practice what we preach and have found that shopping local is not only easy and fun, but incredibly yummy! So, that leads me to our first Green Tip:

Support local family farmers who grow sustainable meat and produce. Not only does it taste better, you’ll be doing your part for the planet too. Visit one of Orange County Farmer’s Markets for delicious and nutritious foods for your holiday meal.

Most mass-produced wrapping paper you find in stores is not recyclable and ends up in landfills. Instead, here’s a great chance to get creative! Wrap presents with old maps, the comics section of a newspaper, or children’s artwork.  If every family wrapped just three gifts this way, it would save enough paper to cover 45,000 football fields.

Ninety-eight percent of Christmas trees were grown on farms, not in forests, so at least it’s not as if you’re cutting down an ancient tree. Each year, 10 million Christmas trees end up in the landfill. While your tree won’t fit in the recycling bin with your newspapers and bottles, you can recycle your tree: many cities offer programs to turn your tree to mulch or wood chips. Call (800) CLEANUP or visit to find the tree-recycling program near you.

Donate to the favorite charity of the person you are giving to.  If you have a gardener in your family, have a tree planted in their honor.  If you have a pet lover in your family, donate to one of the numerous animal shelters or rescues in the area.  If you have a humanitarian in the family, donate to a local homeless shelter.  Feel doubly good about giving and giving back!

Don’t let yourself get caught up in the madness. Remember what the holidays are really about. Family and Friends. Give experiences instead of stuff. Buy tickets to a show, a ball game, or a scenic train ride instead of dust-collecting knickknacks. Tailor the gift to the recipient: club or museum memberships, craft or hobby lessons, IOU for a home-cooked meal, an afternoon of gardening help, free babysitting, and so on.  Remember the simple pleasures of just being with those you care about.

Your house doesn’t have to light up the whole neighborhood to show your holiday spirit. So this year use a few less lights to help save energy.  Plus, switching out any old Christmas lights with LED will not only make your display brighter and more colorful, but will also be good for the environment.

The holidays draw out the best in most of us each year. But they also bring what seems like an environmentalist’s worst nightmare: tons of extra garbage, millions of chopped-down trees, and megawatts of flashing lights. With a little tweaking, however, everything from holiday gift-giving to light-stringing can celebrate the environment, too. So, think about giving back to your environment this holiday season, it doesn’t take much, but you can feel good about helping this beautiful world we live in.

Plant of the Month – Amaryllis

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AmaryllisMinervaFlThere are many ways to make your home more inviting for the holidays, including the usual Christmas lights, trees, wreaths and ornaments. However, if you gardeners want to really dazzle your guests this year, show them a display of bold and beautiful amaryllis blooms.

Amaryllis are the easiest to bring to bloom and grow among the holiday plants.    And with flowers that can reach as large as 10″ across, Amaryllis will give you an exotic alternative to the traditional Poinsettia or Paper-White bulbs.  Garden Centers usually start stocking the bulbs in the fall. Pick them up right away and get amaryllis_whiteplanting them, because they take 6-7 weeks to push out their fabulous blooms or if you are in a hurry, some nurseries have them planted and already about to bloom.

The amaryllis originated in South America’s tropical regions and has the botanical name Hippeastrum.  Their flower colors go from white to deep red and include some eye-catching stripped varieties.  You can expect your Amaryllis to bloom 7-10 weeks and can be grown easily indoors in a pot with soil around the base or sitting on a vase without holes with only it’s roots submerged in water.
The nice thing about amaryllis is you can get a repeat bloom from them the following year. Unlike poinsettias, which quite frankly, can be kind of a pain to force the following year, amaryllis are fairly simple to get to re-bloom the following year.