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Archive for Sunday, December 1, 1996

SEASON OF GIVING

December 1, 1996

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There's a wealth of gift ideas for the gardeners in your life.

A few weeks ago, Ted, an 8-year-old neighbor, asked me if I wanted to buy gift wrapping paper to support his school's fund-raising project. Always in the need for gift paper, especially at this time of year, I bought two rolls from him; one has sweet little cherub faces on it. The other roll, called "Garden Trellis," is adorned with flowers, gardening gloves, sprinkling cans and the like against a white trellis background. "I knew you would buy that one," Ted said with the confident air of a salesman who knows his market.

He delivered my purchases the other day. It put me in mind of just how quickly the holiday season is approaching. The December holidays are filled with opportunities to give gifts to our family, friends, neighbors, teachers, co-workers and other special people in our lives. For the people on your list who are gardeners, gift choices are abundant.

Gifts for gardeners come in all sizes and price ranges. A few packets of seeds tucked in a small terra-cotta pot wrapped in tinted tissue paper and tied with some curly ribbon would gladden the heart of any gardener. A larger, more expensive gift -- such as a potting table or bench -- might be hidden in the garage or basement. Send the gardener on a scavenger hunt following a trail of clues until the gift is found.

Practical and exotic

Practical gifts are always appreciated. Most gardeners would love a 10-pound bag of rich potting soil or a 25-pound bag of premium birdseed. Both can be put to use right away, even in the dead of winter. The ripple effects from either gift -- rejuvenated house plants thriving in fresh soil or birds feeding outside the kitchen window -- offer continued enjoyment of the holiday present.

One of the most practical and likely to be the best appreciated of presents is a gift certificate to a garden center. These certificates are treasured each winter month; the gardener is fully aware of the bounty they will bring in springtime. These little pieces of paper provide an opportunity to daydream of gardening during the long wait for warmer weather. Then, with the arrival of spring and with what feels like reckless abandon, the gardener has the giddy joy of choosing all the flowers that have been planted with the mind's eye in just the perfect spot in the garden during the winter.

If you want to give an unusual gift, try a Christmas cactus that blooms in yellow. When a living plant is not practical, select a cut flower arrangement including red, white or pink anthuriums. These long-lasting beauties add an exotic touch to arrangements.

Even more unusual gifts are items peripherally associated with gardening. What can pick someone out of the doldrums of winter better than a trip to a tropical rain forest or the promise of a trip to a botanical garden? Another unique gift is a massage. It might be just the right ticket for the overeager gardener who forgets to ease muscles back into the rigors of gardening at the beginning of the season.

Books worth a look

Some of my very favorite gifts at this time of year are books on gardening. Books filled with beautiful color pictures and handsomely landscaped gardens are inspiring. Browse through some of these selections:

"America's Garden Book," by Louise & James Bush-Brown. This thick volume, borrowing from the expertise of the Brooklyn Botanic Garden, has more than 1,000 color photographs. It is aimed at the average American gardener. Whatever your passion -- container, indoor, prairie, pond or low-maintenance gardening -- you will most likely find a section to suit you.

"Better Homes & Gardens Complete Guide to Gardening." This 1979 book has reached classic status. Its down-to-earth explanations, diagrams and plant suggestions make this a perfect book for the novice gardener. The copy I own is dog-eared from use.

"Gardening in the Shade." Another Better Homes and Garden selection, this book is ideal for gardeners who contend with shade. The book defines the types of shade and offers a variety of plant suggestions. Plant bloom, form and foliage are prime considerations.

"Further Along the Garden Path," by Ann Lovejoy. The author claims this book is "specifically written and organized to help novice and intermediate gardeners reach the next level of gardening expertise." Short chapters covering each month feature reliable, though perhaps less well-known, plants. The photography by Mark Lovejoy is stunning.

"Everyday Things -- Garden Tools," by Suzanne Slesin and others, is more of a historical look at garden implements used to dig, plant, prune and water. The hundreds of illustrations give the reader an appreciation of the work of gardening over the years.

No Kansas bookshelf would be complete without Rachel Synder's "Gardening in the Heartland." The author offers a practical guide for gardening in the conditions we face -- clay soil, wind, dry summers and the like. Its charming style makes it a perfect gift for any gardener.

Perhaps the following suggestions might help.

99 gifts for gardeners

1. African violet plant

2. Amaryllis plant

3. Bamboo stakes

4. Barometer

5. Basic how-to gardening book

6. Basket hangers

7. Bird house

8. Bird feeder

9. Birdbath

10. Birdseed

11. Book on annuals

12. Book on perennials

13. Book on herbs

14. Book on house plants

15. Butterfly house

16. Camera

17. Christmas cactus

18. Citronella candles

19. Clay pots

20. Clippers

21. Compost bin

22. Compost pile aerator

23. Compost starter

24. Cut flower vase

25. Cut flower basket

26. Decorative indoor pots

27. Door wreath

28. Drying screen

29. Duct tape (Everyone can use duct tape now and then)

30. Film for the camera

31. Flower press

32. Flower shears

33. Flower support rings

34. Garden calendar

35. Garden statuary

36. Garden lights

37. Garden trowel

38. Garden bench

39. Gardening gloves

40. Gardening journal

41. Gift certificate to a local garden store

42. Grow lights

43. Hammock

44. Hand pruners

45. Hand weeder

46. Hand lotion

47. Hanging basket

48. Herb starter kit

49. Holly plant

50. Hummingbird feeder

51. Kneeling pad

52. Landscaping book

53. Lawn-care service

54. Leaf rake

55. Loppers

56. Massage

57. Outdoor thermometer

58. Peat moss

59. Peat seed starter pellets

60. Perilite

61. Plant stand

62. Plant markers

63. Plastic water catchers

64. Poinsettia plant

65. Potting bench

66. Pruning saw

67. Rain barrel

68. Rain gauge

69. Rake

70. Root starter

71. Rose stem stripper

72. Seed starter kit

73. Shoe and boot brush

74. Shovel

75. Small house plant tools

76. Soaker hose

77. Sprinkling can

78. Sprinkling wand

79. Subscription to a garden magazine

80. Sun hat

81. Sundial

82. Sunflower seed wreath

83. Sunscreen

84. Ten pounds of potting soil

85. Tool bucket

86. Trellis

87. Trip to a botanical garden

88. Trip to a rain forest

89. Twine

90. Vermiculite

91. Wagon/cart

92. Wall planter

93. Water hose guides

94. Weather vane

95. Weed whipper

96. Wheelbarrow

97. Wind chimes

98. Window box

99. Wrapping paper -- "Garden Trellis"

-- Carol Boncella is educations coordinator at Lawrence Memorial Hospital and a Douglas County master gardener.

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