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The past few weeks have been a bit tough for me. Because of my sciatica, my back is bothering me day and night. And though we have experienced a long and gorgeous run of autumn color here in southeastern Michigan, I dearly miss the spectacular fall show provided by the sugar maple forest that surrounds my beloved former home. Then there was the election, which left a sour taste in the mouths of many, along with feelings of angst. And finally Veterans Day, which also marks the passing of my loving partner Jeff Ball.

Like many gardeners, when I feel down and out of sorts, working in my garden brings me solace, But sadly I no longer have a private garden to dig in, so a couple of weeks ago I turned to adding fresh flowers to my home, and I’m pleased to say it’s helping.

I started out with one of the lovely new intersectional Poinsettias I found at English Gardens: englishgardens.com/blog/princettia-poinsettias-a-plant-for-all-pink-lovers.html.

Called the ‘Princettia,’ this new introduction is shorter and more compact than older varieties and is currently available in shades of pink and white. The colored leaves, called bracts, are smaller and thinner than traditional poinsettias, giving them a more refined look.

Just as with their bright red cousins, if well cared for – six hours of bright indirect light daily and just moist but not sodden soil, their color should last for several months.

My next buy was a red Christmas cactus, full of buds and just coming into bloom. It’s providing the perfect pop of color on my new etagere that stands in front of a south-facing window in my living room and is a stunning companion to my chartreuse Boston fern ‘Rita’s Gold.’

On my bathroom sink is a small bouquet of cut flowers that welcome me day and night.

On the counter next to my kitchen sink is a small old-fashioned clear glass rose bowl that holds a single flower. I chose one of those stunning new giant varieties found at florist shops. They cost a bit more than a fancy cup of Starbucks coffee, but last a week or longer.

One of my secrets to longer lasting cut flowers is to re-cut the stems and replace the water every two days. I cut the stems on a steep angle using a sharp pair of cutters, such as Radius floral shears for clean cuts.

Nancy Szerlag is a master gardener and a Metro Detroit freelance writer. Her column appears Friday’s in Homestyle. To ask her a question go to Yardener.com and click on Ask Nancy. You can also read her previous columns at detroitnews.com/homestyle.

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