As a native southern Californian I have always dreamed of a White Christmas. But two years ago, after returning from a lovely internship and adventure in upstate New York, I became exasperated searching for conifers and hollies to spark up our home for Christmas. This absence awakened me to realize my folly in pretending each year that it was actually cold outside. The truth is that Christmas Day in our climate is almost always very warm and sunny, providing us with a never-ending growing season, and surrounding us with loaded citrus trees, lush, aromatic herb gardens, massive winter squash, bundles of cold-season greens and root vegetables, brightly colored succulent and cactus gardens, and even strawberries, pansies, and daffodils! It really isn’t fair to ourselves to celebrate Christmas with imported decorations from the North, (not to speak of the extra fuel required in shipping these materials so far) when we should give thanks for the local produce our gardens are still providing us. For that reason, over the last three years I have been decorating with the plants and produce we have at hand, and the result is always a charmingly eclectic range of colors and textures, leaving no lack of the obvious celebratory atmosphere, but adding a touch of the individuality and diversity of our sunny home.
Since arranging the table setting above, the Pelargonium began putting out more new leaves reaching towards the west window, just like little hands reaching out towards the late afternoon sun. Meanwhile, with the help of the indoor night-time temperatures the Christmas cactus has exploded with its glowing fire-engine red, fuschia, and magenta flowers.