Snowmen and Poinsettia Trees

I bet my neighborhood is not unique in offering examples of a wide variety of garden styles. There is ample representation from the meticulous lawn-and-hedge contingent, a style that dovetails nicely into holiday decorating. Many argue that lawns, while not really ever put to much practical use by their owners, can be important for adding a psychological “breathing space,” but I have noted a practical adaptation in use during the holidays which must be acknowledged in their defense. And that is their utility as the perfect launchpad for oversize, inflatable holiday decorations. No photos of this style are available, since the snowmen and santas are currently collapsed in a heap on their lawns and come to life only at night, something like this snowman:


It seems poor taste to mix a snarky tone with that lovely little movie, but that’s the holidays for you, a whiplash ride between the high and the low.

Back to the survey of neighborhood garden styles. Another popular local garden style might be described as “If it’s free, it’s going in the ground.” This style can derive from sentiment or cost effectiveness, or maybe a combination of the two. Whatever its origin, it can be identified by heavy reliance on florist gift plants, such as chrysanthemums and, yes, the poinsettia, such as this example of a poinsettia reaching tree-like proportions one street over from mine.


Over 8 feet tall at least, the renegade poinsettia somehow shakes off the growth hormone hangover and re-acquires its natural rangy growth habit.


The poinsettia has to be my least-favorite euphorbia, but I appreciate the culturally rich tradition giving rise to its becoming synonymous with Christmas.

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5 Responses to Snowmen and Poinsettia Trees

  1. Kathy says:

    Lovely. It is my hope that someday, someone will revive the lost art of non-computer generated animation. Art comes in many forms. I’m afraid I’m grouchy about those blow-up atrocities- the humming air compressor is tantamount to having a leaf blower running all night. Hmmph.

  2. hoover boo says:

    In our neighborhood the highlight decoration is a piece of plywood on which is painted an abstract Mary-and-Baby-Jesus design, more mysterious than tacky. The mystery is that it’s surrounded every year, for some strange reason, by a big array of sand bags normally used for the prevention of flooding. Are they part of the “decoration”? It is uncertain. I call it “The Virgin Of The Sandbags”.

  3. Is there ‘a culturally rich tradition’ associated with poinsettias? I think it’s entirely due to vigorous marketing until people think that it’s an esential element of Christmas – see my post on

  4. Denise says:

    Kathy, so glad you enjoyed that clip. Hope I didn’t sound too grouchy.
    Hoov, no such mystery displays in my neighborhood. Nothing that couldn’t be bought from Target.
    John, can’t wait to check out your post. The culturally rich tradition I was referring to is summarized in this Wikipedia entry: “The plant’s association with Christmas began in 16th century Mexico, where legend tells of a young girl who was too poor to provide a gift for the celebration of Jesus’ birthday. The tale goes that the child was inspired by an angel to gather weeds from the roadside and place them in front of the church altar. Crimson “blossoms” sprouted from the weeds and became beautiful poinsettias.[6] From the 17th century, Franciscan friars in Mexico included the plants in their Christmas celebrations.[7] The star-shaped leaf pattern is said to symbolize the Star of Bethlehem, and the red color represents the blood sacrifice through the crucifixion of Jesus.”

  5. the poinsettia is not among my favorites, but it sure has good timing!

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