Posted by: Highland landscaping | December 6, 2018

December 2018


December 2018                                       EDITION 118

817-488-2718  Phone |



December is the month our landscape takes on the neutral brown tones of the North Texas winter palette.  We find vibrant color with perennials that often present as tones of green with their foliage the rest of the year.   December is also the last month to consider which bulbs to plant for early spring color.  Numerous possibilities are available.  We present a few of these;  some well-known, and others seen less frequently.

    Picture3  In our February, 2018 newsletter, the feature plant for the month was the Daffodil (also known as narcissus or jonquil).  The Daffodil is the first flower to sprout in the late winter or early spring.  Unlike many other early bloomers, the Daffodil will poke its delicate arms through snow when it is time to make its appearance.   In addition to the 25,000 named varieties, and a wide color palette, one can choose double or single blooms, scented or not, etc.  These trumpet-shape bloomers are hardy and continue to bloom well into spring.

A less-known spring bloomer is Fritillaria (Fritillaria Striata).   Stunning on its own, the Fritillaria blends well with other early bloomers.  A member of the lily family, there are 140 + species.  From thin delicate foliage sprouts a bell–or cup-shaped flower that Picture4appears to be “nodding off”.  Often described as purple and white checked, numerous colors are available. This easy care bulb perennial has a sweet fragrance and does well where the summers are hot and dry.  The Fritillaria will welcome watering while it is blooming, but requires little care afterward as it stores energy for the next winter.

A well-known early bloomer is the Crocus (Crocus).  Like the Daffodil, the Crocus will emerge through snow in the late winter.  It thrives in sun to part sun locations, and requires little care. The “Vanguard” and “Blue Pearl” varieties are especially early bloomers.  At a height of 6-12”,  the Crocus can be a star in many interesting locations. In addition to adding harmony to other early bloomers, it can be a focal point in rock gardens or lining a walkway.  The palette of colors and textures available is vast, and Crocus provide nectar for pollinators.

Picture5  Giant Snowdrop (Galanthus elwesil), less known than the Crocus and Daffodil, is another early bloomer that will reach up through snow to make its presence known.  11/2” flowers bloom from 6-12” stems.  A single small white drooping bell-shaped flower with six petals form two circles. The inner circle has green markings.  Thriving in full  sun, the Snowdrop will continue to bloom until early summer heat ushers it into dormancy.

Another less known perennial bulb flower that is a welcome addition to early spring gardening is the Allium.  There are 700 different varieties, and all belong to the Allium family with onions, shallots and garlic.  Allium flowers bridge the gap between early spring bloomers and early summer.  Tall 24-30” stems sprout 2-4” flower “globes”. Because they take little space, it is easy to find places for them to blend or shine.

In previous editions, we have presented information on  other early blooming bulb Picture6plants.  In October of 2015, the entire newsletter was devoted to Tulips. Grape Hyacinth was presented in the October, 2018 edition and Iris, in November, 2018.  December is the last month to plant bulbs for early Spring blooms.  Call our office for info on availability or where to order.


“Do not go where the path may lead;

go instead where there is no path

and leave a trail.”

               -Ralph Waldo Emerson


Plant trivia

Which plant on the  color list above has a high level of caffeine in its leaves?(look for the answer at the end of our blog)


Featured project


Highland completed an incredible residential new construction project off of White’s Chapel in Southlake. The main focus of this design was contemporary, native, and very low maintenance. Different varieties of Cacti, yuccas, and agaves  were spread throughout the property to give  it a very interesting eye catching look. Most of the native Texas plants require little to no water and the gravels do not need to be replaced. The driveway entrance is filled with pops of beautiful pinks from the Delosperma  and hints of dark green from the Soft Leaf Yuccas and Sotols.

Brooke Sugden Photography : 817-948-6428



Highland Landscaping was awarded the Best Landscaping Company of North Texas in Living Magazine!


 Seasonal color this month…

Early Camellia, Possumhaw Tree, Pyracantha berries, Sweet Olive,Winter Jasmine, Yaupon Holly berries


December Landscape Tasks:

  •  Plan landscape and hardscape projects
  • Plant spring bulbs
  • Plant winter seasonal color
  • Plant trees, shrubs and groundcovers
  • Divide spring-flowering perennials
  • Prune ornamental trees
  • Cut-back deciduous perennials after freeze
  • Apply pre-emergent for spring weeds
  • Schedule yard clean-up
  • Mulch landscape beds to 3”
  • Purchase winter goods like frost cloth and ice melt
  • Bring tropical plants into garage for freezing temperatures
  • Water landscape beds before a freeze
  • Wrap palms before a deep freeze

Trivia Answer

Yaupon Holly


Picture12 Christmas Cholla (Choy-ah), Opuntia Leptocaulis, is also known as Desert Christmas Cactus. Native to Oklahoma, Texas, New Mexico, Arizona, Northern Mexico and into California, Christmas Cholla is an evergreen perennial that  often goes unnoticed in its native settings.

Thin (1/4”) stems form a bush or thicket that may reach 1 1/2  to 6 1/2 feet in height. Its botanical name comes from the Greek “leptos”, meaning “slender” and “caulis” meaning “stem”.   Areoles (bumps) along the stems sprout 3/4 to 2” spines.  Although we tend to think of these spines as thorns, they actually serve multiple purposes.  The spines are  modified leaves that protect the cactus from predators;  help reduce water loss by reducing air flow close to the cactus;  and, provide some shade.

For about three hours in the late afternoon during the months of May and June,Picture13   tiny (1/4”) yellow—bronze flowers open, adding color to the Christmas Cholla.  It is thought that this is the time of day when pollinators may visit.  Hummingbirds, honey bees and one particular cactus bee are frequent visitors;  while  cactus wrens find a safe nesting place.   The Christmas Cholla steals the spotlight during the winter when it bears red fruit.  The grape-size oval fruit persists through the winter, drawing one’s eye to this otherwise unremarkable cactus.   New stem growth in the spring can be seen emerging from the fruit, if left on the plant.

This sun loving plant, hardy to USDA zone 7, is heat and drought tolerant.   Perfect for xeriscape landscaping, rock gardens and cactus beds, it adapts to and is relatively unnoticed until winter in many other settings.   The flower buds are edible and provide an excellent source for calcium.  Native tribes included the buds in their diet, but were careful to harvest in moderation from any given plant.  The removal of buds affects the setting of fruit.  The fruit, sweet and fleshy, is high in vitamins A & C.   The fruit was also a diet staple.  It can be used in many of the same ways the fruit of the prickly pear cactus is.

Cholla wood, when dried, is a hollow cylinder with regularly spaced holes that is used for fuel, novelties and decorative items.


Picture13          Picture14        Picture15  Picture16

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s


%d bloggers like this: