Roses in December

December 2005
50 And Better Magazine
Gardening Forever
By Patsy Bell Hobson

God gave us memory that we might have roses in December.
James Matthew Barrie (1860 – 1937) Scottish dramatist, novelist


The holidays are all about stuffing. Stuffed turkeys, stockings and mailboxes. The mail box isn’t so full of greeting cards as it used to be. But if you have ever received one gardening catalog, you have soon been added to the mail lists of many, many others. Garden catalogs now start coming before Christmas. Then, the big mailbox stuffing comes after Christmas. Catalog after catalog.

I don’t look at these tempting plant and seed catalogs. Not yet, anyway. They all go directly into a paper bag. Then, sometime after the first of the year, a “snow day” preferably, I dig out all the catalogs. It’s a winter ritual that helps an old gardener get through the winter.

Of course there are many variations on this theme. My garden catalog ritual requires snow on the ground. The first day I can count as a “snow day” will do. Or, if I can hold off, a couple of days into a snow storm is the best. And, hot chocolate is a must. A roaring fire in the fireplace adds to the ambience. Snuggling in with a big bag of seed catalogs is just about as happy as a gardener can get in the winter time.

If it turns out to be a particularly severe winter, this ritual may be repeated. In that case, don’t place the order for at least a week. Give reason time to set in. It may come to you that you have ordered enough seed to sow the entire state of Kansas.


The legend of the Christmas Rose has been told again and again. I do not know the author. Next time you see a rose, think of this tale.


When the Magi laid their gifts of myrrh, frankincense, and gold, by the bed of the sleeping Christ Child, legend says that a shepherd maiden stood outside the door quietly weeping.

She, too, had sought the Christ Child. She, too, desired to bring him gifts. But she had nothing to offer, for she was very, very poor. In vain she had searched the countryside over for one little flower to bring Him, but she could find none, for the winter had been cold.

As she stood there weeping, an angel passing saw her sorrow, and stooping he brushed aside the snow at her feet. There sprang up on the spot a cluster of beautiful winter roses, — waxen white with pink tipped petals.

“Nor myrrh, nor frankincense, nor gold,” said the angel, “is offering more meant for the Christ Child than these pure Christmas Roses.”

Joyfully the shepherd maiden gathered the flowers and made her offering to the Holy Child.

The USDA Agricultural Research Service (ARS) has seen promising results using 1 and 2 percent caffeine solutions to kill snails and slugs. Research showed the 2-percent caffeine solution more effective than metaldehyde, a common pesticide used to control slugs and snails. Instant coffee is about 0.05 percent caffeine. Normal brewed coffee is a little stronger. The coffee I make is defiantly strong enough to kill a slug. Though I have no idea where to find coffee cups that small.


Garden Works at is a company run by gardeners for gardeners. Their products are designed to make gardening easier and more enjoyable. They have a great prepackaged gift that any rose gardener would appreciate getting. The Deluxe Rose Pro gloves, made from premium goat skin, is made to fit like a dress glove. Elbow high leather cuffs protect the forearm, making these comfy rose gloves perfect for pruning or working with woody shrubs.

I love these gloves. In fact, I had to order a second pair as a Christmas gift because I kept the first pair for myself. The gift box includes a pair of Deluxe Rose Pro gloves and a pruning tool. Everything I’ve ordered from this company is shipped promptly and well made. Check it out at or, E-mail : Call 425-455-0568

All the tempting gift catalogs and garden catalogs should come with the same printed warning as your car’s rearview mirror. “Objects in mirror are larger than they appear.” Keep in mind that picture on the cover of the seed catalog was taken by a professional photographer. That is the best looking tomato or flower that the growers could find. As car makers also say, “Your results may vary.” Your plant is never going to look better than it does on the catalog cover.

I like gift certificates. Turns out the gift certificate idea was my husband’s. Jules buys garden related gift certificates not so much as a gift but as an act of budgetary self-defense. This is his way of protecting our bank account from those cold cabin fever days also known as the garden-catalog-snow-day-shopping-spree.

From our house to yours, Jules and I wish you a merry Christmas ands a peaceful New Year. Patsy Bell Hobson is a free lance writer and a Master Gardener in Liberty, MO. Send e-mail to

Related Posts Plugin for WordPress, Blogger...

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published.