December E-News from Viette's                 Volume 8: No. 12

Lori Jones, Editor                                                                                         December/2012

 One of Andre's beautiful outdoor Christmas displays.
Happy Holidays from Your Friends at Viette's!

Wishing you and yours
all the joy and wonder
of this beautiful Christmas Season!
Quick Links
Plant of the Month
A beautiful poinsettia plant in the traditional red color. Poinsettia
Holiday Plants

The beautiful poinsettia (Euphorbia pulcherrima) has become as traditional as holly and mistletoe for the winter holiday season. Native to Central America and Mexico, the poinsettia was introduced to the United States in 1830 by Joel Roberts Poinsett. The brilliant red "petals" of the poinsettia are not flower petals at all but modified leaves called bracts. These colorful bracts surround the true flowers which are small and yellow. Recent hybridizing has produced a multitude of interesting variations on the traditional red poinsettia. Plants are now available in white, pink, peach, yellow, marbled or speckled. An abundance of dark, rich green foliage is a sign of good plant health. Choose plants with dense, plentiful foliage all the way down the stem.
A white poinsettia makes a lovely complement to the red varieties.
The Myth about Toxicity
Contrary to popular belief poinsettia plants are not poisonous! Leaves, stems, bracts, and flowers are not toxic to either humans or pets.

Poinsettia Care
The poinsettia thrives on indirect, natural daylight. Provide at least six hours of indirect sunlight per day. Avoid locations where the plant is exposed to direct sun, as this may fade the bract color. If direct sun cannot be avoided, diffuse with a light shade or sheer curtain.
To prolong the bright color of the poinsettia bracts, daytime temperatures should not exceed 70�F. Avoid placing the plants near drafts, excess heat or the dry air from appliances, fireplaces or ventilating ducts.
A beautiful pink poinsettia

Poinsettias require moderately moist soil. Water plants thoroughly when the soil surface feels dry to the touch. Water enough to completely saturate the soil but do not allow the poinsettia to sit in any standing water.
It is not necessary to fertilize the poinsettia when it is in bloom. However, a balanced, all-purpose household plant fertilizer (follow label directions) may help maintain rich, green foliage and promote new growth after the holidays.
After the Holidays
Many people wonder how to care for their poinsettia after the holidays. The following are some tips:
  • Keep your plants healthy and growing in a bright location
  • Cut them back to 8" in late March and put outside when night temperatures exceed 55�F.


It's too late for this holiday season but here are some tips to get your poinsettia to color up for the season next year. 

Another Great Plant for the Holidays!
Amaryllis Ferrari has stunning 7


Amaryllis bulbs have become a very popular and very welcome gift for the holidays!
They bring long-lasting fresh flowers into your home through the dead of winter. The beautiful lily-like flowers come in a wide range of colors and can grow to be up to 10" across. No wonder they are such popular holiday gifts!

Not all amaryllis bulbs are created equal!
A good quality bulb is a must if you want a spectacular show. Good quality bulbs can have up to 6 flowers on each stem and will produce up to 3 flower stalks during one bloom cycle. Generally, the larger the bulb, the larger the flowers, the more flowers per stem, and the more stems per bulb. If properly cared for, these bulbs can last year after year.


Choose the best bulbs
Large amaryllis bulbs (32/34+ cm) will produce 2-4 stems each and as many as 6 flowers per stem (up to 20 flowers total) creating a show of blooms that will last for months! Smaller sized bulbs will produce fewer stems, often only one and sometimes none at all!
When you purchase amaryllis bulbs try to buy only those that you can actually see. Often, when you buy bulbs in the attractive boxes with the beautiful pictures on the outside, you will be disappointed with a small, inferior bulb on the inside.
More info on choosing the best Amaryllis bulbs

A beautiful grouping of Amaryllis flowers.
Create a spectacular display by planting 2 or more Amaryllis bulbs
in an elongated container
Growing your Amaryllis
Once you have chosen a good quality amaryllis bulb, plant it in a container that is at least 6" wide. The top third of the bulb should show above the soil and it is important that you try to keep this upper portion of the bulb dry when you water. Place your amaryllis bulb in a warm, sunny location while the flower stalk is growing, but as soon as the first flower opens, move the plant to a cooler location out of direct sunlight. This will prolong the life of the flowers. Be sure to keep the soil moist throughout it's bloom cycle.
More info on growing Amaryllis successfully


Gardening Questions?
Andre  answers a listener's question during a broadcast of 'In the Garden' 
Listen to Andre on the radio every Saturday morning from 8-11 on  
"In the Garden
with Andre Viette".
Click for a station list or
streamed live from our
flagship station WSVA.
Listen to podcasts.  



Mark Viette  answers a listeners call during a live broadcast. 

Now you can listen to Mark every Sunday morning from 8-10 on  


"Easy Gardening"  

with Mark Viette.

Visit the "Easy Gardening"
website for live streaming and podcasts of Mark's radio show as well as tips and other gardening information.

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When You're in
the Area
Packsaddle Ridge Golf Club. View from the 13th hole.
Got Clubs?

Visit our friends at Packsaddle Ridge Golf Club for a breathtaking round of golf after a visit to the Viette gardens.

Packsaddle Ridge was voted #5 "Best New Affordable Course" by Golf Digest in 2003. This public 18-hole championship golf course is nestled in the beautiful Shenandoah Valley and features a challenging course with incredible views of the Appalachian Mountains and the valley below.

3067 Packsaddle Tr.
Keezletown, VA 22832
Phone: 540-269-8188

Viette Front Porch Christmas

Join Andre and Claire Viette for  

a personal tour of their beautiful home decorated for Christmas!


Saturday, December 15 at 1:30 PM

Wednesday, December 19 at 5:00 PM  

Thursday, December 20 at 1:30 PM 


Please pre-register by calling us at 800-575-5538.   

$10.00 Fee 


This Christmas wonderland takes Andre a full two weeks to complete and includes: 

  • A live Christmas tree with snow and over
    300 colorful ornaments
  • A live Christmas tree with crystal, pearls, and crocheted ornaments
  • Loads of beautiful arrangements with live greens
  • Gold mantle arrangement
  • Antique, hand-made ornaments
  • Bell collection and colored glass collection
  • Santa collection with over 100 Santas
  • Beautiful manger arrangement
  • Wonderful cone collection 
  • Old Christmas card collection, and lots more . . .
  • Plus, many wonderful outside arrangements with beautiful greens and colorful berries combined with antique farm tools, sleighs, and sleds!
The beautiful  


Tip of the Month
Tips for the December Garden 


Small leaf pieces created by a mulching mower will mostly disappear over the winter.
Small leaf pieces created by a
mulching mower will mostly
disappear over the winter.
Compost your leaves
Recycle nutrients back into your lawn by mowing your leaves rather than raking them! If you regularly mow your leaf covered lawn in the fall (before the leaves get too thick), you may never have to rake a single leaf again. These shredded leaves are a fantastic source of "free" organic nutrients for your lawn and gardens. A mulching mower makes this job even easier because the chopped leaves are deposited on the lawn rather than being blown into a pile off to the side.
Structural Pruning
The correct orientation of hand shears makes a clean cut.
The correct orientation of hand shears makes a clean cut.
Now that the leaves are off the trees, it is a great time to do some thinning and structural pruning of your trees. This should not be heavy pruning but just touch-up pruning for shaping purposes (never removing more than 20%). With the leaves gone, you can easily see the overall shape and structure of the tree and can better evaluate your pruning cuts. Here are a few tips:
  • Always use high quality tools. These will last a long time and make good clean cuts.
  • Keep your pruning tools sharp
  • Make pruning cuts just above (but not too close to) an outward facing bud.
  • When pruning with hand shears, be sure to orient the shears so the blade is closest to the part that will remain. This leaves a clean, close cut without a stub.
  • When cutting branches too large for shears, use a proper pruning saw. These cut deeply on the pull stroke.
Watch Mark Viette's "video tip" on winter pruning.

Viette front porch at Christmas
Cut greens and berry covered branches are great for
holiday decorating.
"Harvesting" Greens
Now that the holidays are upon us, our thoughts turn to "decking our halls" with boughs of holly and other evergreens! It is fine to do a light pruning of evergreens (such as yews, pines, boxwood, holly, etc.) to get greens and berries for decorating. The older and more established a tree or shrub is, the more and longer boughs you can take without causing harm to the tree or it's shape. Use these fresh greens in all kinds of holiday arrangements.
Watch Mark Viette's "video tip" on decorating with fresh greens, dried pods and berries.

Planting Bulbs
Daffodils usher in the new spring season!
It's not too late to plant spring bulbs.
It's not too late to plant spring bulbs. December is a great time to take advantage of late season sales on daffodils, tulips, and minor bulbs. These can still be planted as long as the ground is workable. Be sure to amend the planting hole with Espoma Bulb-tone according to the label directions. Watch Mark's "video tip" on planting spring bulbs.

Super Compost grows "giant plants"!
Blue Ridge Organics Super Compost
Blue Ridge Organics
"Super Compost"
What is compost?
Compost is an excellent, nutrient-rich, soil conditioner which is produced when organic matter is broken down by bacteria, fungi, worms, and other small organisms in the soil.
Composting is an easy way to return organic material to the soil.
  • Adding compost improves soil structure - sandy soils will hold water and nutrients better and clay soils will drain more quickly. 
  • Composting adds nutrients to the soil and reduces the need for fertilizers. 
  • Compost-rich soil promotes deep and extensive root systems and healthier plants which are less susceptible to diseases and insect pests.
  • Composting reduces the amount of organic matter going to our landfills.  

Our friend, William Layton from Blue Ridge Organics, has developed a great Ready-to-Use compost system for growing fantastic vegetable and flower gardens.  

Here is his story:

I have been planting and gardening since I was big enough to go in to the garden with my father. We always worked it the same way; till the soil and lay the rows out, put the chemical fertilizer in the row, plant the seeds or plants and finish it off with more fertilizer and chemicals.
I have planted this way for years, so when I started growing Giant Pumpkins that is the way I started doing it; the way my dad taught me. I threw on all the fertilizer I could without burning it up.  

I watched as that pumpkin, to my amazement grew to weigh 225 lbs. I was hooked. 


I have always been one to read and research about what I am interested in, so I started reading and learning about growing giant pumpkins; especially how the world class growers of these Giants were doing it. I noticed that all these growers were using a compost of some type. At that time I knew nothing about compost; so again I did more research. I eventually came up a with a compost mixture that I put down in my pumpkin patch. That year I grew a whopping 550 lb pumpkin. This pumpkin grew like crazy but I also noticed that it stayed greener and the health of the plant was much better than the previous year.

The following year (2007), I decided that I would use only my compost mixture and some organic fertilizer to grow my giant pumpkin. To my astonishment, that plant grew a State Record Giant Pumpkin of 1138 lbs. I still hold the record for the State of Virginia with the largest pumpkin to break 1000 lbs.  


Now I use my compost mixture for everything I grow; from my vegetable garden and my pumpkin patch, to my lawn and my wife's house plants. When I use this compost everything not only grows bigger but the colors are more vibrant and the garden yields better vegetables.  


William's state record giant pumpkin

I am a contractor by trade and I have wanted to do something different for a while as I am getting older and laying block/brick does not do well on the joints after so many years. I decided it was time for a change. I thought if I use this compost and it does this well on my plants and in my garden then I should create a company that makes it easy for the average everyday person to grow  "organically" with great compost. I have shared my "Super Compost" with my family and friends and they can see the results within a few days of planting.  


This Super Compost/Garden Soxx combination makes it easy to grow without any chemicals or fertilizers. When we added the Garden Soxx with our product we saw a way for EVERYONE to be able to grow beautiful plants and vegetables. It doesn't matter if you live in the city, suburbia or in the country; you can have a garden. Garden Soxx enables you to grow more and bigger vegetables and flowers without doing all the work you used to have to do; such as tilling. You simply place your seeds or plants in the Garden Soxx with the Super Compost already in it, water frequently, and sit back and watch them grow. 

Blue Ridge Organics Garden Soxx
Freshly planted peppers in one of the Garden Soxx

Now when I plant anything I only use the Super Compost. I would not plant without it. 


If you want to know more about this Super Compost visit our website and see why I am so excited...  

Preserve Your Christmas Tree and Greens!

Christmas at Viette's
Bough and Christmas Tree SPRAY 
Be sure to protect your holiday greens and Christmas tree from drying out. Spray your boughs and Christmas tree with this unique formula to help fireproof and reduce needle drop through the holiday season. Tree and greens should be fresh and not dried out.


14 oz. borax (20 Mule Team)

6 oz. Boric acid (from drugstore)

1/2 tsp. low sudsing detergent (granular)

1 gallon hot tap water


  1. Mix together well
  2. Prop tree or greens upright outdoors
  3. Using a good pressure sprayer, cover tree or greens completely
  4. Let tree or greens dry fully before bringing indoors

Do not place the tree or greens near a fireplace, radiator, wood stove, or other heat source that might dehydrate or ignite the tree. Be sure the tree lights do not have worn insulation or broken wiring.


Pre-mixed sprays such as Bonide Wilt Stop can be found in your full service garden center.


Christmas Tree STAND Formula

This formula for your Christmas tree stand helps to prolong your tree and keep it fresh. 

Andre's beautiful

1 gallon hot tap water
1 cup light Karo syrup
2 oz. Clorox
1/2 tsp. Epsom Salts


  1. Mix together well
  2. Put tree in tree stand
  3. Fill well of tree stand with the above mixture
  4. Keep tree stand filled - 4 days of watering with this mixture will help keep the tree fresh but the tree will continue to take fluid up to 10 days or more so be sure to check the water level often and keep the tree stand full of fresh water while the tree is in the house.

Do not place the tree near a fireplace, radiator, wood stove, or other heat source that might dehydrate or ignite the tree. Be sure the tree lights do not have worn insulation or broken wiring.

Andre's Next AAA Trip

February 18 - March 1st, 2013


View from the Viette home in St. Thomas.
View from the Viette home
in St. Thomas.
11-Day Southern Caribbean Cruise


Mark your calendar to join Andre and Claire Viette on Holland America's Noordam for an 11-day Southern Caribbean Cruise. 


Explore the unspoiled natural beauty and tropical beaches of the Caribbean. Water sports enthusiasts can enjoy diving around colorful reefs, snorkeling in crystalline waters, or sailing on a catamaran. If shopping is your sport, you'll find plenty of places to splurge on duty-free treasures.  


You'll visit 7 beautiful islands of the Caribbean and have the opportunity to enjoy private shore excursions including the fabulous 5 acre hilltop home and gardens of the Viettes.  


Hurry! Time is running out to sign-up for this exciting trip. Beat the winter blues in the sunny Caribbean!  


Click for more information   

Our Friends and Sponsors 
Harpers Statuary & Water Gardens PacksaddleRidgeGolfClub

Clear  Choice
Blue Ridge Compost

Bonide Wet & Forget

Black Gold PureSpray Green