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Although this could very well be a picture of me finding a new treasure at a favorite nursery, it's actually an illustration by David Catrow for a children's book called Plantzilla.

Monday, December 9, 2013

Windmill Part Two: Euphorbia pulcherrima Anyone?

The Massacre of the Innocents is the biblical narrative of infanticide by Herod the Great, the Roman appointed King of the Jews.  According to the Gospel of Matthew, Herod ordered the execution of all young male children in the "Vicinity of Bethlehem, so as to avoid the loss of his throne to a newborn King of the Jews whose birth had been announced to him by the Magi...Then was fulfilled that which was spoken through Jeremiah the prophet, saying, "A voice is heard in Ramah, mourning and great weeping, Rachel weeping for her children and refusing to be comforted, because her children are no more."

So, as part of our Christmas celebrations, we annually kill huge numbers of evergreen trees and, according to another Matthew,  The Lents Farmer, "Bazillions of [poinsettias] are cultivated (and later murdered) around the world - just for Christmas."   And what's the most popular color of this plant destined to die?  Blood Red.  Coincidence?   You decide.

Anyway, poinsettias are everywhere this time of year and I have to admit that it's fun to see greenhouses full of them and marvel at such large swaths of bright color and enjoy the new varieties.   Without further ado then, here are some pictures, taken at a recent visit to Windmill Gardens,  of the soon to be dead, brightly-colored bracts of Euphorbia pulcherrima.  Enjoy.

Traditional red has been joined by lots of fun new colors!
 
 
I don't remember seeing names for the different varieties.  Just as well, it's easier to compost them if you don't know their names, right?


 


Perfect to go with that tie dyed t shirt!

 
 
 


 There were several greenhouses containing nothing but poinsettias.  What a festive or sad, depending on how you look at it, sight!




This one caught my eye because it was new to me. 
 
 
Kind of dreamy.



Not a huge fan of these as they look a bit as if they have a virus or something.






My favorites were in one of the houses marked "Employees Only"  in a section marked "Not For Sale - Wholesale Only." 

One was this red one with dark green foliage becoming chartreuse closer to the top of the plant and next to the bright red bracts.  Yum.



The other was this variegated variety that I'd seen in some retail outlets last year.  Love it and it might even be worth trying to keep alive just for the foliage. 

 
Do you decorate with poinsettias for the holidays?   They hold their colorful bracts for months if well tended and are a fun reminder during the bleak midwinter of the festive season.  Do you hang on to them until they become unsightly or do they go out the door with the Christmas decorations?  

36 comments:

  1. This tradition is very new for Russia. But many people like poinsettias, that are sold in many supermarkets and garden centers before Christmas.
    This year I would like to decorate with poinsettias my home, living room where I do the tree. I love your photo of poinsettias with white spots on the leaves!
    Have a nice week, Peter!

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    1. I love the way poinsettias look and have many silk potted ones that sometimes come out for the season and sometimes stay in their boxes in the basement. Thank you, Nadezda, I wish you a nice week too!

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  2. I don't decorate with pointsettias. Someone gave me one many, many years ago, and of course, it was impossible to keep alive as a houseplant afterwards. I think it died a slow death. That is a beautiful sea of plants. Some of the new varieties are interesting. When there is that much natural variation in the plant, why do some feel the need to paint them? I like that one with the chartreuse foliage too.

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    1. I went to silk a while ago so I could have masses of them and not feel guilty about throwing them away. Some years they decorate the inside of boxes in the basement other years they come upstairs. Christmas seems to be coming way too fast this year so it'll probably be a box year.

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  3. I have to admit, I've never really liked Poinsettias...a bit too gaudy for me ;-) Of course, that doesn't mean that I haven't killed my fair share over the years. It seemed that for a while, people gave me one every year (they figured I liked plants, poinsettias are plants, therefore I liked poinsettias). Even though I didn't like them, I STILL felt guilty watching them slowly decline and die. My grandma actually had one that she kept alive for YEARS...I don't know how she did it.

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    1. They can be kept going with enough light and warmth but even if you do get them to bloom in future years, they seldom look as good as the ones available for sale everywhere. I like the way they look but then I'm a big fan of gaudy and bright plants.

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  4. A variegated leaf Poinsettia, interesting as I've never seen one before! Must say I have a love-indifferent relationship to this plant but did buy one yesterday (it was on special offer). It's destined to go to the bun after the holidays but I do wonder how easy is it to keep alive?? Apparently not nor inclined to try it out :) I suppose treat it is a form of cutflower or bedding.

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    1. They are a nice, long-lasting cut flower kind of potted plant- lovely for the season but then gone.

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  5. I've always favored the white blooming ones, when I did actually make the purchase. I seem to remember Molbaks always had little 2" containers with a huge single bloom (back when they had their shop at Pike Place Market). I liked those a lot.

    There is something very appealing about your off-limits fav with the chartreuse leaves. It's picture perfect!

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    1. White fits your decor much better than red or pink would. Your silver frosty holiday decorations are always so lovely!

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  6. Thanks for a dose of happiness and color on an otherwise freezing cold and SNOWY morning. Yes, its snowing right now. Yikes. I was planning on plant shopping today.

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    1. Rats! Plant shopping thwarted! I'd love to have snow so that we could have a late start at school!

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  7. Used to be my Christmas fav until I discovered how easy dividing and rooting Schlumbergeras and Kalanchoes are, along with the joys of potted Amaryllis and Hyacinths.

    The rare gift Poinsettia goes in front of a mirror so it looks like more. I toss them when they fade. I never put one in my greenhouse -- they're a white fly magnet.

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    1. Your Amaryllis and Hayacinth parade must be spectacular! My Schlumbergeras are blooming their happy heads off right now. It's hard not to love such easy care plants that give such a spectacular show!

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  8. I find Poinsettias difficult to love. In fact I hate them. But still they are better than that other horror you see at this time of the year sold as a houseplant; Solanum pseudocapiscum or the winter cherry. Not cherries at all of course and very poisonous. And while I'm on the subject, do they sell that other abomination - dyed heathers in nurseries over there? heathers dyed bilious colours.? Don't get me started. All very seasonal I'm sure, but quite horrible.
    Nice photos though, perhaps the Poinsettias do look quite good en masse and not wilting in the corner of your sitting room.
    Chloris

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    1. Oh Chloris, you made me laugh. I've not seen heathers dyed bilious colours here but that doesn't mean that they aren't offered. They sound awful. I've always found Solanum pseudocapiscum to look out of place in the winter. It's clearly a member of a family that likes summer's warmth. I must admit to having a couple of them during my misspent youth. (That's been so long ago that I'm amazed that I can remember.)

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  9. Nice photographs. I am freezing so any reminder of the nice summery flowers is great at this time. Thank you.

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    1. Alwyas happy to remember the warmth of summer!

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  10. All those varieties are pretty displayed that way. I don't usually purchase them though.

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    1. I agree, lovely to look at but don't need to take any home.

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  11. I like the old-fashioned blood red poinsettias. The new colors leave me cold. Fun fact:Poinsettias were introduced to the USA by Joel Poinsett a physician and diplomat from South Carolina. Judy and I saw his house when we were in Charleston.

    OK fine, it's not really that much fun, but facts rarely are.

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    1. Classic red screams holiday time. That's the color of the many potted fake poinsettias that live in my basement although I think I have a white one or two to break up the great mass of red.

      I liked your fun fact and thought it aptly titled.

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  12. The funny part about poinsettias is they can't take winter cold. So how much use are they really as a Christmas plant for 60- 80% of the nation? I don't buy or covet them, but there's something fun about seeing a whole greenhouse full as you showed. I've seen the same at an old-style nursery here called Marbott's and marveled. I like the ones you admired, the chartreuse and highly variegated poinsettias.

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    1. So silly! I like Jean's idea about using other plants for holiday interest. We've both got the Christmas cactus thing going on, right?

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  13. I love poinsettias but they do not get the conditions they need in my house so I have given up trying to use the to decorate with. I did one buy a small one and I picked ! the flowers and used them in a centerpiece. It lasted quite a long time and then I did not feel bad about throwing it out because it was already dead. :-)

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    1. They are lovely flowers but my silk ones last longer than the real thing in the drafty entryway of our house. I like your idea about using them as cut flowers!

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  14. Yeah, I'd want a whole bunch of them but since that won't happen I won't get any. So-so on them but what a display of color! And I like that you have some silk ones decorating the insides of a box. Now that you mention it I vaguely remember owning a bunch of silk ones too. Must clean out storage room next year.

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    1. It's getting pretty close to Christmas to haul all the decorations out now so maybe next year we'll both plan ahead and display our silk poinsettias.

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  15. I've bought poinsettias occasionally during the holidays - confronted with the sight of them in the market, the drugstore, the nursery, after a while it almost makes one feel grinch-like to ignore them. Still, they don't hold up well inside when the heat is on or outside when the temps drop and I'm always afraid the cats will chew on them and get sick. This year, I've managed to avoid bring one home (so far anyway). In my old neighborhood, there was one planted in a backyard that had grown to tree height - impressive but not actually very attractive.

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    1. I also enjoy seeing them around and yesterday saw some that were screaming red a little more on the orange rater than the blue side of red . Zowie! They look great among all the other bright decorations of the season but on their own...meh.

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  16. You are always so funny, Peter, I was trying to come up with some funny names so you would have to feel a twinge as you tossed them on the compost pile, but could only come up with Cream of Pepto-Bismol, and Increasingly Chlorotic Flaming Fantasy. I have to admit being allured by some of these creations but would also rather reserve my plant lust for hopefully more permanent temptations. My MIL seemed to also be able to keep Poinsettias alive for years, with long twisty branches of dwindling foliage and no flowers.

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    1. Your names made me laugh out lout! Thanks for that! If I get a poinsettia, I keep it until the colored bracts have done their thing, sometimes lasting until after Valentines day. Then I simply put them outside where they can run and play with the other plants on the farm. Oops, they must not like the cold of February. It's much easier to drag something brown to the heap than something pretty, green and red.

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  17. In my former retail life, I would always take several unsold poinsettias home on the 24th, because they would be worthless after the next day. I always tried to grab a white one so it would look less out of place on New Year's Eve. I never once felt any sort of reluctance tossing them on the compost pile.

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    1. I don't really feel guilty about composting them but I seldom buy a live poinsettia and we keep our decorations up past Epiphany usually. By February or March the poinsettia and I are usually tired of each others' company.

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  18. I like the standard red ones. We usually get one at Christmas although we have not done a live evergreen tree in almost 20 years. We bring in our Benjamina Ficus every year and decorate it with lights and balls. The poinsettia adds to the color of the season. It is fun to see them growing outdoors in tropical areas like Hawaii.

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  19. Most people treat the poinsettia (also called Christmas star, Mexican flame leaf, or lobster plant) as an annual, purchasing a new plant at the beginning of the traditional winter flowering period and discarding it at the end.
    Euphorbia Pulcherrima Euphorbiaceae house Plant Care

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Thanks so much for taking the time to comment! I love to hear your thoughts.