Gardening Tips: December 14, 2011

Holiday Gifts for Gardeners
This is a column I enjoy writing every year at this time. In fact it is pretty much the exact same column as last year! Holiday gift shopping may be a joy for some people but for others it is torture. Some of us are just not that good at picking out gifts that will be appreciated. Fortunately almost everyone has some interest in gardening so the following suggestions might make your task a bit easier this year.

Begin by visiting a local greenhouse or garden center. You do not need to travel to the mall to see many beautiful plants that have been grown just for the purpose of being a gift. Colorful Poinsettias in all shades of red, pink, maroon, white and even yellow are available at prices ranging from a few dollars to 40 or 50 dollars for a truly spectacular plant. Besides Poinsettias, flowering cyclamen, gardenias, chrysanthemums, Paperwhite narcissus, spring bulbs such as daffodils and tulips and a few other flowering plants may be enjoyed and then discarded without guilt a few weeks after the holidays.

Other flowering plants may become more or less permanent additions to the household. Xmas and Thanksgiving cacti make wonderful, long-lived houseplants as do Amaryllis bulbs. Knowledgeable indoor gardeners will appreciate a beautiful orchid, African violet, streptocarpus, miniature rose or gloxinia. Seed packets also make nice stocking stuffers.

Small trees available
If your home is too small for a regular Xmas tree a living Norfolk Island Pine or mini spruce tree makes a nice substitute. Fragrant wreaths or table decorations or door swags made from fresh greens add a festive touch to any household. Of course don’t forget the holly and mistletoe! It is interesting to note that mistletoe berries are poisonous so the stuff you see for sale often has real leaves but the white berries are made out of plastic.

Gardeners love gadgets so fancy watering cans, atomizers, decorative planters, good gardening gloves and pot markers are a good choice. Decorative “Gro Lights” heated cables or pads, special fertilizers and high quality hand tools will be appreciated. If your friends like to cook, consider a herbal wreath or a braid of garlic or chili peppers. Sachets of sweet smelling potpourri, concentrated oils to make your own potpourri, dried herbs or other dried flower arrangements are popular gifts.

Weather devices such as indoor/outdoor thermometers, minimum/maximum thermometers, complete indoor-computerized weather stations, compost or soil thermometers, rain gauges, wind socks, weathervanes are sure to please gardeners.

Garden books are always welcome especially if the gardener has a special interest in a particular type of plant.

Many gardeners are also bird feeders during the winter so a squirrel resistant bird feeder or even a 50-pound bag of black oil sunflower seed would certainly be appreciated. Most bird feeders are also squirrel feeders by default. My friend and fellow columnist, Dick Brooks, buys his birdseed by the tractor-trailer load. He has been voted as “favorite human of the year” by the Greene County chapter of the Grey Squirrel League seven years in a row.