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Gardener's almanac

Happy New Year! —At least we're starting the new year on a moist note. I came back from being out of town for Christmas only to find that the heated birdbath had gone dry. You just don't expect to have to have people water for you in the dead of winter. Picking up your errant outdoor Christmas tree, blown over in the snowy wind, is another story.

Alleviating poinsettia guilt _ This could be the solution for those people who feel like they can't kill a plant and put themselves out of their own misery: You can recycle a tired poinsettia at Johnson's Garden Center and get a 25 percent discount on a fresh houseplant. The poinsettias will go on the compost pile, and the mix will be used in potting up trees and shrubs in the spring. Doesn't that make you feel better?

O Christmas tree — Local Christmas expert Arlene Root, in the midst of her celebration of the 12 days, called to tell me why there was no standard translation of "O Tannenbaum." While the meaning in the original German is simple, when it's translated into English it becomes simpleminded, Arlene said.

Literally the words mean: O fir tree, how true (as in faithful) are your leaves. You are green not only in summertime but also in winter when it snows.

That's the kind we like about now.

Christmas tree recycling and mulch — Ten locations in Wichita and nine elsewhere in Sedgwick County are accepting real Christmas trees for recycling through Jan. 23. They're sponsored by Sedgwick County government.

Be sure to remove all decorations from the tree before taking it to one of the sites. The trees will periodically be chipped, and the resulting mulch will be available for free on a first-come, first-served basis.

Here are the locations:

In Wichita:

* Boston Park, 6655 E. Zimmerly

* Buffalo Park, 10209 Hardtner

* College Hill United Methodist Church, First and Erie streets

* Earhart Environmental Magnet School, 4401 N. Arkansas

* Edgemoor Park, 5815 E. Ninth St.

* Extension Education Center, 7001 W. 21st St.

* Great Plains Nature Center, 6232 E. 29th St. North

* Old Cowtown Museum, 1865 Museum Blvd.

* Osage Park, 2121 W. 31st St. South

* South Linwood Park, Hydraulic and Mount Vernon

In Sedgwick County:

* Cheney, East South Avenue and Garfield

* Clearwater, Aquatic Center parking lot

* Colwich, 115 S. Third St.

* Garden Plain, water tower

* Kechi, 107 Sioux St.

* Mount Hope, 400 S. St. Thomas

* Mulvane, 117 E. Main St.

* Park City, 6801 N. Hydraulic

* Valley Center, City Park near railroad tracks.

Designs Using Tropicals workshop — The floral design series of workshops sponsored by the Wichita Garden Show Educational Foundation and the Wichita Garden Show Amateur Flower Show Committee continues Jan. 11 with a workshop on designs using tropicals. It's from 7 to 9 p.m. at the Extension Center, 21st and Ridge Road. The cost is $25. Register by calling 316-946-0883 or e-mail wichitagardenshow@sbcglobal.net.

Terrarium workshop — Botanica is offering a workshop on making a terrarium from 1:30 to 4:30 p.m. Jan. 13. Kathy Scott will lead the workshop on creating a mini garden in a glass container. The fee is $30, $25 for Botanica members. Each participant will receive a glass container, rocks, charcoal, soil and sphagnum moss. The class will then caravan to Johnson's Garden Center to pick out three plants and finish the project. Register by calling Karla Jahn at 316-264-0448 from 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. Monday through Friday.

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