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Saugus gardens in the fall

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Here’s what’s blooming in town this week to make your walks more enjoyable

  We may have been complaining about the sunset happening too early these days, but it is suddenly getting brighter in the evenings! Sunset still occurs a little earlier each night, but lights are coming on all over town. Last night Boston lit its tree on the common – donated from Nova Scotia – to remind us every year of Boston’s assistance in Halifax, Nova Scotia’s hour of need on December 6, 1917. Tonight is the tree lighting in Saugus Center, which always attracts a merry crowd. In all neighborhoods, colorful lights are going up on homes, trees, fences and light posts. In Cliftondale, the Festival of Trees at the M.E.G. Building is full of locally handmade decorations and twinkling lights. On Wednesday, December 7 we will also be enjoying the brightness of the last full moon of 2022.

  Saugonians of all ages are welcoming back a bear with open arms at the corner of Central Street and Greystone. This big teddy bear at the Picardi residence has been appearing at Christmas season for several years now, and the homeowners say it helped them get through the Covid shutdowns when socializing was severely limited. Families in the neighborhood walk by to see it, and children especially were delighted to watch as the bear opens and closes its arms.

  You may have noticed two elegant urns with dramatic foliage appearing near the Saugus Public Library’s front entrance a few weeks ago. Teddy the custodian installed them along with eight chrysanthemums in the surrounding beds. The plants in the urns are cordyline, also sometimes simply called “spike” (Cordyline australis) – very popular as an upright focal point annual in containers. While cordyline usually can’t make it through the average winter in our climate, it will tolerate some frost, and occasionally we have a mild enough winter for it to survive another season. Teddy often uses them in his home garden and a few years ago had some survive through the winter.

  Due to the drought that hit Essex County this summer more severely than other parts of the state, local tree farms have had some problems with their Christmas trees. As a result, prices have gone up from last year. Many newly planted seedlings were unable to survive in the dry soil, and older trees ready for cutting this year suffered from bare spots and needle loss. However, most pre-cut trees come from Canada, and it looks like there are plenty available at Huberman’s and Little Brook Garden Center. The most popular species for Christmas trees in our area is balsam fir (Abies balsamea) and Fraser fir (Abies fraseri).

  Balsam fir is native to northern New England and Canada, while Fraser fir can grow in slightly warmer zones. Both of these species have the familiar fragrance we often think of as belonging to “pine pillows,” which are not filled with pine but with balsam fir needles. Balsam and Fraser fir branches are also the most popular for wreaths, swags, cemetery baskets, centerpieces and other decorations. Fairly recently, due to Fraser fir susceptibility to root fungus in some areas, two European fir species have also been planted at Christmas tree farms in our area, in particular Turkish fir (Abies bornmuelleriana), which is also known as Black Sea fir, and Nordmann Fir (Abies nordmanniana), which is also known as Caucasian fir. Both have a very similar fragrance to the balsam and Fraser firs. Another North American fir species, white fir (Abies concolor), which is sometimes known as concolor fir, has a needle scent more like tangerines and a blue-green needle color similar to blue spruce (Picea pungens). There are other evergreen trees that are also used for Christmas trees, but these firs have the most intense fragrances. There are many scented candles and fragrance diffusers popular at this time of year that attempt to capture the traditional fragrance that for many people is indispensable as the essence of the season.

  Editor’s Note: Laura Eisener is a landscape design consultant who helps homeowners with landscape design, plant selection and placement of trees and shrubs, as well as perennials. She is a member of the Saugus Garden Club and offered to write a series of articles about “what’s blooming in town” shortly after the outbreak of the COVID-19 pandemic. She was inspired after seeing so many people taking up walking.

A big teddy bear-2
A big teddy bear at Central Street and Greystone greets passersby with open arms! (Courtesy photo to The Saugus Advocate by Laura Eisener)
Thanks to Teddy-2
Thanks to Teddy, the Saugus Public Library custodian, a pair of elegant containers now grace the front entrance of the library. (Courtesy photo to The Saugus Advocate by Laura Eisener)
This white tailed deer-2
This white-tailed deer (Odocoileus virginiana) near Main Street seemed less afraid of being photographed than you might expect. (Courtesy photo to The Saugus Advocate by Laura Eisener)
Wreaths are already up-2
Wreaths are already up, and the trees will be lit tonight in Saugus Center. (Courtesy photo to The Saugus Advocate by Laura Eisener)

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