"No sun -- no moon!
No morn -- no noon --
No dawn -- no dusk -- no proper time of day.
No warmth, no cheerfulness, no healthful ease,
No comfortable feel in any member --
No shade, no shine, no butterflies, no bees,
No fruits, no flowers, no leaves, no birds --
The poet Thomas Hood (1799-1845) was clever but clearly not a gardener, for we know there are plenty of warm, bloom-inspiring and nurturing things to love about this month. Here are 30.
1. For December blooms, store Christmas cactus in bright light for 10 hours daily, then in complete darkness at 55-60 degrees for 14 hours each night.
2. Winterize water gardens and cover koi ponds with netting.
3. Daylight Saving Time ends at 2 a.m. Set clocks back an hour to return to Standard time.
4. Start forcing paperwhites, amaryllis and hyacinth bulbs indoors now and they'll bloom in time for the holidays.
5. It's Election Day. Be a good citizen and vote, then mow the lawn one last time, shorter than usual, to just 1 1/2 inches.
6. Monitor houseplants for spider mites and scale. Treat immediately if you spot any.
7. Rake up leaves and add to the compost pile or shred and apply around plants in place of mulch after several hard frosts.
8. Remove weak or cracked tree branches to protect them from being ripped off by winter winds.
9. Harvest winter squash after vines die back but before frost hits.
10. Wrap upright junipers and arborvitaes loosely with twine to protect against potential ice damage.
11. It's Veterans Day, so raise a flag in the garden to honor those who have served.
12. A mouse can squeeze through a hole the width of a pencil -- inspect foundations and crawl spaces and fill gaps and cracks with sealant or steel wool.
13. Empty planters and wash with a 90/10 water/bleach solution. Store indoors; clay pots will crack if left out in the cold.
14. Clean up around roses, fruit trees, lilacs and others that have exhibited disease and discard debris in the trash so it doesn't reinfect plants next year.
15. Inspect for viburnum leaf beetles after leaves fall. Remove twigs and branches that have egg cases attached.
16. Check deer fences for gaps and repair if necessary.
17. Clean and stock bird feeders and consider a de-icer for the birdbath.
18. Clear gutters of leaves and debris.
19. Prepare a bed now for planting peas in March.
20. Plant evergreens, opting for balled-and-burlapped trees and shrubs over potted when possible.
21. Dig and pot up chives and parsley and grow in the kitchen by a sunny window.
22. Protect broadleaf evergreens like rhododendrons from winter dehydration by spraying with an anti-desiccant when temperatures are above 40 degrees.
23. You can plant bulbs as long as the ground is soft enough to do so.
24. Rake thoroughly under roses to help prevent fungal diseases next year.
25. Dig up and store cannas, colocasias, dahlias, caladiums and gladioli after they've been blackened by frost.
26. Store firewood outdoors to avoid bringing insects into the house.
27. Happy Hanukkah! Light a candle and cover the fig tree (see newsday.com/home for step-by-step directions and my video tutorial).
28. Happy Thanksgiving! Here's hoping you all enjoy the day and the beauty nature has to offer.
29. Cut asparagus foliage to the ground. Mulch over with 2 inches of well-rotted manure.
30. Continue watering recently transplanted and divided plants to ensure they don't die before winter sets in.