Thing I learned from my grandparents
by Ronella Stager, Columnist
Dec 19, 2012 | 10 10 recommendations | email to a friend | print
It’s a most convenient thing that just as you need greenery to decorate your house for Christmas, it is a good time to prune your evergreens, both those broad-leaf shrubs such as Holly and Laurel and berried shrubs such as Nandina, as well as evergreen trees and shrubs. Always beware of trimming those spring blooming shrubs.

All deciduous tree and shrub trimming may safely be done now. Tree surgery may be done now with safety. It has always been believed that you must paint the limb after cutting but experts now say that you don’t need to paint with anything. Since I am no tree expert, I can’t guarantee that but most of my landscape books agree. They surely must know more than I about tree trimming. And it is also a good time for pruning fruit trees. If you need some advice on pruning fruit trees, consult your County Extension Agent.

Did you know that nuts from Hickory and Black Walnut trees can be buried about an inch in the ground where they will easily split their hard shells during the frosts and moisture of winter? I can verify this because a few years ago, some low-life squirrel planted a Black Walnut in the mulch around a butterfly bush. Before I noticed, the little tree was a few feet tall with very strong roots. Since the butterfly bush was in pretty iffy shape, I let the little tree take over. Now it is about 40 feet tall, nice and straight and healthy. I wonder when and if it will ever bear walnuts or does it need more than one tree to bear?

If you use a “real” tree this Christmas, consider putting it in a fence corner in your yard as a haven for small birds to use as cover during snows. Or you might consider using the tree to hang pine cones filled with peanut butter and rolled in bird seed or you could hang suet from branches.

I have a bird feeder installed on the ramp which goes down from my front porch. It is situated where I can watch the birds feed from my computer desk. I am not much of a bird expert but I am finding that many different birds are eating from the feeder, some which I can identify and others which I don’t remember ever seeing. And, yes I have a water bowl for them. As for the gravel and grit, or sand, they are on their own.

Each year at this time, I am carried back in memory to a simpler time. My grandmother, nor my mother, had time for bird watching or bird feeding. They were busy feeding a family and the farm animals. None of my family complained or, if they did, I didn’t know it. Times were hard for everyone on small farms in rural Kentucky back then. It was just a part of life. There were stalks of corn left in the field where large birds could forage but the song birds just had to find their own food. As I have mentioned before, Ma hated Robins because there was a running battle with Robins over her cherry tree.

In my family, as in most during those years, there was no money for the many presents that are clustered around the trees now. It just never occurred to us to expect many expensive presents. We got one or two gifts and some small things under the tree. We always got a small gift from Ma and Pa. She loved to give us little boxes of pretty handkerchiefs which we cherished. But, truly, I believe we were more grateful for small presents than most children are today.

Later on, when the depression was truly over, and we had left the farm, we were given really nice gifts at Christmas but they were not cherished any more than the little things had been. It seems almost obscene to think of the huge amount of money that is spent for Christmas gifts each year.

I have talked to a few people recently whose families have decided to forego the big amounts of Christmas gifts they have always bought. They have decided to buy one or two less costly gifts. It just seems to me that with all the worry about just the right gifts and getting all the shopping and the decorating done, we tend to forget the reason we celebrate Christmas.

There are so many families who are truly in need this Christmas. Wouldn’t it be far better to help some family or families with some gifts and food? It is very easy to find the names of some people who would so appreciate gifts or even just a Christmas basket. If you are looking for a person to help, call your local Family Assistance Office and they will gladly give you names of some needy family or old person. You might also check to see that all the names of children on the “angel trees” have been taken.

Thanks so much for your letters and calls regarding this column. It is my pleasure to write it. You can call me at 270-522-3632 or write to Ronella Stagner, 137 Main Street, Cadiz, KY 42211. You can still order my gardening book to have it by Christmas by sending a check for $13.50.
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