December E-News from Viette's                  Volume 7: No. 12

Lori Jones, Editor                                                                                          December/2011

 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 

Holiday Cactus - Bodie Pennisi, University of Georgia,
Holiday Cactus -
Bodie Pennisi, University of Georgia,

Christmas Cactus

Schlumbergera spp.


The Christmas Cactus, sometimes called Holiday Cactus or Thanksgiving Cactus, is a popular plant at Christmas time. It sports beautiful, delicate flowers in red, salmon, white, and pink. They are one of the few holiday plants suited to growing all year long (no dormant period required). If the plant receives proper care, it is very long- lived.

Although this plant is a cactus, it requires more water than other cacti. Keep the soil of this plant evenly moist all of the time. Do not overwater the plant because waterlogged roots can cause the flower buds to drop. Underwatering or excessive dryness can bring on the same thing. In late summer or early fall, when the buds are forming, water only enough to keep the stems from wrinkling or shriveling. After the buds are formed, you can resume normal watering.

These plants like a bright location and some sun. However, strong summer sun may cause the plant to turn yellow.
Note: Christmas cacti are sensitive to light. If you move the plant, be careful not to change its position relative to the source of light. This can weaken the small, newly-formed buds, and they may fall off.

Fertilize the plant every two weeks with a liquid houseplant fertilizer that is high in potassium. When the flower buds are forming, do not fertilize.


The flowering of a Christmas cactus is related to the length of the day and the night temperature.


If the plant is kept outside during the summer, the cool temperatures of early fall nights (50-55�F) are usually enough for the plant to set buds. This will probably take place before you bring the plant indoors (before the night temperature goes below 50�F or before the first frost). The buds will form regardless of the amount of darkness they receive. 


If the plant is grown indoors all year around, then it will need artificial short days or about 13 hours of darkness to initiate bud development. You can do this by placing the plant in an unused room or closet from 6:00 PM to 7:00 AM or draping it with a dark cloth for this period. If the plant is small enough, a brown paper bag may work, too. After the buds form, it can be treated normally, and you can watch the buds develop.  


Repotting can be done when the plant has finished flowering.

The Christmas cactus can be propagated from a cutting taken from the tip of the stem. "Y"-shaped cuttings are best, though others will also root. Each cutting should consist of two or three jointed segments. The cuttings should be inserted into a small pot of potting soil. Keep moist.

Fragrant Firs!
Bit-O-Honey Farms

Beautiful, FRESH, fir trees right in the heart of the Shenandoah Valley!
Canaan Firs make beautiful Christmas trees.
Canaan Firs have wonderful soft needles and sturdy branches for hanging ornaments!
Cut your Own!
Fresh cut trees last a long time in the house and the FRAGRANCE of these fir trees ...

Visit our friends on the web for their
hours and for directions to Bit-O-Honey Tree Farm!

Make Fragrant Firs
a part of YOUR
Christmas tradition!
They are
open though December 11th  
If you enjoy our newsletter, please pass it along to your gardening friends!


Save the Date!
Virginia Home & Garden Show
January 14 & 15, 2012
This exciting event at the new Meadow Event Park will provide eager homeowners,
the opportunity to see, compare and buy the latest products and services to beautify their homes and yards.
Landscapers will create beautiful gardens and be on hand to inspire you to take your yard to the next level.
Shop for the latest in home decor and get advice from the area's best decorators. See the latest in kitchen design & discuss the latest options to upgrade your kitchen to the perfect gathering place.
 Andre Viette
Join Andre Viette
for an informative gardening seminar on Saturday,
Jan. 14th at 2:00 pm.
Andre's seminar will be followed by a Q&A session and Meet & Greet.
Tip of the Month

Decorating for the Holidays       


Decorating from the garden
Natural arrangements made from fresh greens, interesting dried flowers, seed pods,
and berries, harvested from your garden can bring beauty to your home, both inside and out. 

A  beautiful outdoor Christmas arrangement uses a variety of evergreen boughs, dried  hydrangea flowers, and winterberry branches to make a stunning display.
A beautiful outdoor Christmas arrangement uses evergreen boughs, dried hydrangea flowers, and winterberry branches to make a stunning display.
Fresh Greens and Dried Flowers 
You don't have to be a professional flower arranger to create beautiful holiday and winter displays, just a creative imagination. Take your shears on a stroll through your winter garden and start clipping and collecting.
A variety of greens adds color and texture to you holiday display.
A variety of greens adds color and texture to you holiday display.
Many evergreens can be safely thinned and "plucked" at this time of the year. There are so many different colors and textures of greens that can be used to create a wonderful foundation for a variety of Christmas and holiday arrangements from centerpieces to swags and wreaths to beautiful outdoor displays. Each year, Andre cuts boughs of various firs, pines, cypress, cedar, spruce, boxwood, and magnolia so that he has a wide variety of colorful greens to work with when decorating for Christmas. Fall is a great time to plant some of these evergreen trees and shrubs in your own gardens so you will have attractive plants in the landscape year around and a bonus of some beautiful greens to cut at holiday time!

View Mark Viette's video tip on cutting and using fresh greens in holiday decorating.
The flowers of many perennials and shrubs dry naturally right on the plant and can be cut and used in beautiful, long-lasting arrangements allowing you to enjoy your garden's beauty well into winter. Hydrangea, yarrow, sedums, and ornamental grasses are good examples.

Seed pods and dried flowers can be spray painted gold and silver for holiday arrangements.
Seed pods and dried flowers can be spray painted gold and silver for holiday arrangements

Seed Pods and Pine Cones

In addition to flowers, look for other interesting colors, shapes, and textures in and around your landscape. Dried seed pods from oriental poppies, Siberian iris, peonies, and yucca make wonderful additions to a fall and winter display. Even daylily seed pods or their dried flower scapes are neat! Pine cones are great additions to holiday arrangements and they can be easily collected from under trees in the woods or in your yard.
View Mark's video tip on decorating with some unusual pine cones.
Pumpkins, squash, and gourds spray painted gold for the holidays.
Pumpkins, squash, and gourds spray painted gold for the holidays.
Dried seed pods, leaves, and dried flowers can even be spray painted gold or silver before using in holiday arrangements. Andre spray painted some of his left over fall pumpkins and gourds with shiny gold paint and added them to one of his outdoor Christmas displays. Wow what a neat idea! They really brightened up the display!

View Mark's video tip on creating a beautiful gold mantle display for the Christmas holidays.

Fallen autumn leaves, along with pine cones and gourds can be sprinkled around the base of your arrangements for an added touch of whimsy!

View Mark's video tip on using dried seed pods and berries, and creating holiday decorating themes.
A beautiful Christmas candle arrangement made entirely from things cut and collected from the garden.
A beautiful Christmas candle arrangement made entirely from things cut and collected
from the garden.
Bright Colored Berries

Berried deciduous shrubs like Winterberry (Ilex verticillata) and Beautyberry (Callicarpa) have branches covered with long-lasting colorful berries that are excellent in your seasonal arrangements. Euomymus and Nandina also have interesting bright colored berries that can be used for a splash of color in an indoor or outdoor arrangement.
Jef Naunchik demonstrates making a kissing ball during a Viette holiday decorating workshop.
Jef Naunchik demonstrates making a kissing ball during a Viette holiday decorating workshop.

Putting It Together

Nestle your garden gleanings into attractive baskets, vases, buckets, and barrels. There is no limit to what you can do with a good imagination and some garden leftovers!

Choosing a Cut Christmas Tree
For many families, the selection of a Christmas tree is a "deep-rooted" Christmas tradition that often marks the beginning of the holiday season. At our house, searching for the perfect tree is quite an event and every year we reminisce over our previous tree hunting adventures! It is a wonderful family tradition!
Andre's beautiful
Andre's beautiful "snow tree".

Types of Christmas Trees

There are many different species of trees that are commonly used for Christmas trees. My personal favorites are the soft-needled firs. These trees are long-lasting with great needle retention and add a wonderful fragrance to your home for the holidays! They have strong branches and, as long as they haven't been over-sheared, are open enough to hang lots of ornaments. The pines, especially White pine and Scotch pine, are also very popular. These are long-lasting but are sometimes hard to decorate because they tend to be very full - especially if they've been over-sheared. Spruce trees make lovely Christmas trees, particularly the Blue spruce, if you can get past the very prickly needles! Andr� picks a beautiful Blue spruce for his snow tree which he flocks and decorates with colorful balls and other ornaments.
More information on the characteristics of some common Christmas tree types.
Choosing a Good One
Andre's beautiful
Andre's "crystal tree" is a beautiful fir decorated with crystal and white ornaments.
There are many places you can get trees, from retail lots to choose-and-cut farms. When you go to a farm and cut your own, you know it's fresh and it's fun to wander through the growing trees to find the most perfect one! If you choose a cut tree from a retail lot, make sure it is fresh. The tree should have a healthy green color and the needles should be flexible and not come off when you stroke a branch.
A good way to check for freshness is to lift a cut tree off the ground a few inches and then let it drop on it's cut end. A few inner needles might fall but green outer needles should not drop off the tree.

Once You Get It Home

Once you get home with your tree, make a fresh cut about an inch above the original cut. Place your tree in the stand and keep the reservoir full of water at all times! It will take up a lot of water so be sure to check it several times a day. Always keep your tree away from heat sources. If you aren't putting your tree up right away, re-cut the end, put it in a bucket of water, and keep it in a cool, shaded place until you are ready to bring it inside. Try Andre's special Christmas tree stand formula and his
A closeup of Andre's
Lights and ornaments can give depth to your tree if they are put on correctly.
Christmas tree and greens spray to help fireproof your tree and greens and keep them fresh.
Bonide Wilt Stop can also be used to keep your tree and greens fresh over the holidays.

Decorating the Tree

Watch Mark's video tips on the best way to put lights and ornaments on the tree to get a beautiful effect.


Another Christmas Wonderland
Visit our Friends ...


Village Garden Center, Fishersville, VA 


The Christmas Shoppe at Village Garden Center

The Christmas Shoppe 


A seasonal retail area and gift shop in "The Big Red Barn" that offers everything for the Christmas and Winter Holiday Season.
Greenery including trees, wreaths and garlands;
bows, ornaments and decorations of all types.
Be sure to stop by and tell them Andre sent you! 

Click here for more information.    


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 in your area!

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 NEW radio
show as well as tips and other gardening information.

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Andre's Next AAA Trip
London, England

including Hampton Court Palace Flower Show and the CotswoldsBeautiful English  countryside


July 3 - 13, 2012


Join Andre and Claire Viette  on this fabulous adventure to England. Visit England's Hampton Court Palace Flower Show and HRH Prince Charles' gardens at Highgrove House, and journey to the picturesque Cotswolds. Enjoy guided tours of many beautiful, historic gardens including Hidcote Manor and Blenheim Palace.
Also visit Bath and Stonehenge.
 Don't miss this wonderful 10-day trip!

Click here for more information.    


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