Diggin' In newsletter 10/17/06

Dear gardening friend, Even if you don’t have children at home, it’s still fun to decorate for Halloween. Neighborhood kids get a kick out of everyone joining in the foolishness. Decades later, I still remember the next-door grouch who used to put away her frown and dress up for Halloween. She would sit on her front steps, looking wonderfully witch-like in her pointed black hat and cape — with a broom perched nearby. She handed out candy to all the little tots while music filled with screams and howls played in the background. For that one evening, she was nice to be around. If you’re looking for a quick-and-easy Halloween decoration for your “wicked look,” here’s one from the Flower Promotions Organization, a nonprofit group that promotes the use of fresh-cut flowers. You can find more year-round decorating ideas with flowers at Materials: Real or plastic jack-o-lantern, 8- to 10-inches wide
Water-proof liner for inside the pumpkin
1 sheet yellow construction paper
2 bricks floral foam
2 wood picks, or 1 wood shish kabob skewer
4-5 rubber bands
1 bunch bear grass (similar greenery or raffia works)
5 stems orange-red gerbera daisies, or mums
5 pieces heavy-gauge wire
Witch’s hat
Half yard of ½-inch-wide orange ribbon. You will also need floral clippers, scissors, paring knife and floral preservative. Local craft stores stock most of the needed materials. Tip from Kathy: You can do this entire arrangement in permanent materials for use year after year. Just omit any water need for fresh material. Directions: 1. Use the yellow construction paper to camouflage the inside of the jack-o-lantern, pushing the paper behind the face cutout. 2. Soak floral foam in water that’s been treated with floral preservative. 3. Fill the waterproof liner with floral foam and insert it into the pumpkin. Insert 2 wood picks (or shish kabob skewers) and place partially into the top of the foam. Set the other brick of foam on top of the first piece. 4. With a paring knife, carve the exposed foam into a cone shape. 5. Divide the bear grass into 4-5 small bunches and rubber band each. 6. Starting at the rim of the pumpkin, wrap the bear grass up and around the foam cone, using cut straight wire. 7. Note: cut wire into 3-inch lengths; bend in half to form a bobby-pin shape. 8. Cut the bear grass into “bangs” and set the witch’s hat partially over the cone. Pin it in place. 9. Insert the daisies in place just above the bear grass. 10. Tie the ribbon into a bow and attach with wire. Photo courtesy
(Click above photo for larger image.)
You don’t have to be a Republican to enjoy the latest in lovely roses — this one named for First Lady Laura Bush. Available this month through Jackson & Perkins, the floribunda rose features clusters of cinnamon-orange flowers with a spicy fragrance. The rose is launched as part of the First Ladies Rose Series, joining roses named for First Ladies Nancy Reagan, Barbara Bush and the soon-to-debut Lady Bird Johnson. To order, visit or call toll free 1-877-322-2300. Photos courtesy Jackson & Perkins
(Click above photo for larger image.)
  Do cut down stems of herbaceous perennials when leaves brown. Do continue to divide and move perennials such as hostas and coneflowers. Do plant some flowers now for spring blooms, especially sweet peas, Iceland poppy, stock, snapdragons, calendula and English daisies. Do pot up parsley, chives, sage and thyme to grow and keep in a sunny window for use during winter.| Do plant garlic and shallots now for harvest next August. Plant in a sunny spot in well-drained soil, placing the tips 2 inches beneath the soil surface. Don’t handle bulbs such as t ulips, hyacinths and daffodils with bare hands because they contain oils that may make you itch. Don’t forget your houseplants outdoors because the average frost date in this area is Nov. 10-15. Don’t plant tulips until November, even December, when the soil is colder. Daffodils can even be planted then and still bloom. Don’t leave leftover grass seed for next year; plant it now so it germinates before frost. Don’t worry if spring bulbs produce a few leaves; they will be fine over winter.
Put down your second application of fall fertilizer on your fescue lawn. Keep leaves off your grass, especially newly sprouted areas, so it thrives in fall’s cool weather. Apply winter weed control late October through early December; if you seeded recently, wait a while.
Pomegranates, Punica granatum, are fruits you often seen in wreaths and arrangements for fall and Christmas. In fact, you’ll see lots of them on door decorations in Colonial Williamsburg. The fruits are wonderful to grow in your back yard for eating and decorating. In spring, the new foliage is bright orange and lime green. Summer flowers are yellow to light orange, and the bright red-orange fruits hang on into late fall. In Hampton Roads, the trees need to stay above 10 degrees in the winter, so a protected location is generally best; they can be planted in fall or spring. The tree, which matures to about 15 feet tall, tolerates drought and salt spray. Fruit takes six to seven months to develop, and does best in long hot summers, says Sybil Mays at Paradise Nursery in Virginia Beach. Visit the nursery at or call 421-0201. Read more about the fruits at Photos courtesy Paradise Nursery
(Click above photos for larger images.)
Show and tell. Send me tips, photos and information about your garden. Ask questions. I can suggest plants for specific needs or steer you to people who know. To reach me: e-mail Read my Sunday column. Read my "Diggin’ In" column in the Sunday Daily Press. Visit There’s always new information at the Q&A and other fun stuff to help your green thumb. Happy gardening! See you at Kathy P.S. Go to where you’ll see some special information I just posted there.
LIST MANAGEMENT To subscribe to Diggin' In, register and/or subscribe at You're currently subscribed to Diggin' In with the address #EmailAddr#. If you'd like to unsubscribe, please reply to this message from your #EmailAddr# account with UNSUBSCRIBE in the subject line, or send a blank e-mail to We want these dispatches to serve your needs. Please let us know how we're doing. Send your comments, questions and tips to

Copyright (c) 2006,