Tuesday, December 16, 2008

Poinsettias...a bit of history

In 1828, the first United States Ambassador to Mexico, Joel Roberts Poinsett, was visiting the Taxco del Alarcon area of Mexico when a plant on the roadside containing brilliant red blooms caught his attention. The ancient Aztecs, who noted that the plant bloomed in the tropical highlands during the short days of winter, called it cuetlaxochitl. Poinsett was so impressed with the beauty of this plant that he immediately sent some of them back to his home in South Carolina, where he began propagating them and sending them to friends and botanical gardens.
One of the recipients of Poinsett’s plant was Robert Buist, who sold the plant at his nursery under the name Euphorbia pulcherrima. The popularity of Euphorbia pulcherrima grew quickly, and William Prescott, a historian and horticulturist, was asked to give the plant a new name. At the time, Mr. Prescott had just published a book called The Conquest of Mexico in which he detailed Joel Poinsett’s discovery of the plant. Prescott named the plant the poinsettia in honor of Joel Poinsett’s discovery.

ImageToday there are over one hundred varieties of poinsettias. They range from the traditional red to other, exciting new colors. It is not the flowers that give the poinsettia their color, but the leaves that surround the flower, also called the plant’s cyathia. The colored leaves are known as the bract. Quite a few traditional red varieties are grown; availability depends on whether you purchase your poinsettia in early or late December. The red varieties are improved every year, and they have been bred to retain their red bracts into late winter. It’s not uncommon for them to hold their color through St. Valentine’s Day. Poinsettias also come in different shades of pink, burgundy and white.

(My niece Taylor volunteered for our Greenhouse photo, Thanks!)

Novelty Poinsettias

ImageThere is also a trend of what are collectively known as novelty poinsettias – poinsettias generally grown in a smaller pot which is 4 to 5 inches in diameter. The smaller size pots make the novelty poinsettias ideally suited for use as a decorating accent. They also make a great last minute hostess gift. Novelty poinsettias have either uniquely shaped leaves, or some sort of non-traditional coloring. These plants have been specifically bred with these traits. My favorite novelty variety is called Chianti (pictured at the left). This plant has holly shaped bracts, in a rich red color. The novelty Sonora White Glitter is another great variety. The bracts are dark red with a splash of creamy white. Previously available only in red, the variety, Winter Rose has a unique crinkly bract that curls under, much like a gathered seam. It resembles a large rose-like bloom. Winter Rose varieties are now available in pink, white, and marble, which is a two-tone pink and white.

Can I eat them?

If you really wanted too eat your poinsettia...you could. They are NOT poisonous. There is no nutritional value, and if you made yourself a poinsettia salad, people would think your having some sort of a breakdown, but you wouldn't die. Poinsettias are not toxic to animals or children, so they are perfectly safe in any household.

Monday, December 15, 2008

Family Traditions - Model Railroad Club of Union County

Ever ride down Route 22 and wonder what those train show signs mean? The Model Railroad club is nestled in a building behind the Home Depot in Union. Its open to the public every saturday during the year, but they put on a special holiday show on the weekends in December. (This coming weekend is the last one for the year) I take my son every year. The show is an interesting mix of music, and local train history. The layout is a work in progress. So you actually get to see how they build some of these great layouts. I snapped a few pictures to share with you. Make sure you check out their website for hours, and that you arrive at least an hour before the last hour posted.

Oh and its quite a bargain. Tickets range from $4-$7.

Have Fun!

Posted by Picasa

Friday, December 12, 2008

Christmas 101

Earlier this week Fedex picked up the Trees for Troops Trailer. I want to thank again all of the hard work that my staff put into the event. We had 86 trees donated, and then Williams donated 15 more for a total of 101 trees. (Lucy made it 102).

Thanks to friends and extended family for their donations. (Great to hear from you cousin Darren in Va). Thanks to the Westfield Leader, and NJN for the great PR). This has been quite an experience, some heart warming moments, and lots of smiles. (I am still smiling about reading the one card some child wrote and said "I hope you win".

We took a few pictures of the weekend events, and Meryl helped layout this card that we all signed and put inside the truck. We wanted to share what happened here with the troops.

Posted by Picasa

Tuesday, December 09, 2008

Lucy Sneaks into the Truck!

I went over to the Fedex truck to put a card with the load, and found that Lucy jumped into the truck. "Lucy" happens to be a Tree that was grown at the Keris Tree Farm in Allentown NJ, she grew up on a beautiful small town tree farm with many other trees. Someone from the Girl Scout Troop, dropped her in the truck last night with this card attached. What a great bonus gift to our troops.
Thanks to Girl Scout Troop 71692 of Allentown NJ for taking part!

Posted by Picasa

Santa Spends some time with the Williams Elves

Santa got to spend a little bit of quality time with the Williams Nursery Elves:-)

Santa shown in our new Photo Set area.
Bring the family on Saturday or Sunday from noon until 3pm for a Free picture with Santa. Or bring your camera and stop in any other time and use the photo set as a backdrop for your holiday card.

Posted by Picasa

Saturday, December 06, 2008

Cubscouts Decorate Cards

My Son's Cub scout Troop from Wilson School stopped in this morning to decorate cards for the Trees. They then picked out a tree and helped load it on the truck. State Senator Tom Kean Jr., stopped in to help with a donation of ten trees. The extra cards that the cub scouts made were then attached to the trees. Thanks Tom, and thanks to the scouts and their parents that stopped in.

Getting the Word Out - NJN TV

NJN stopped by, to help us promote Trees for Troops. You can see me in the last few minutes of this clip.(advance to 23:00)

If any techno geek out there can help me figure out how to actually capture these last few minutes of video, I'd be delighted to know. The clip expires on Wednesday.

Trees for Troops - Friday

We had a great time with the fifth graders from Brookside School in Cranford. They raised over $500 to purchase 11 trees. They helped move and load them on the Fedex truck. They also made and brought laminated cards to attached to the trees. The kindergarten children also wanted to help, so they all made paper gingerbread men to put on the trees!