The December holidays are filled with opportunities to present our family, friends, neighbors, teachers, co-workers and other people important in our lives with gifts that show our love and affection and our appreciation and gratitude. For the people on our lists who are gardeners, gift choices are abundant.
Gardeners delight in gifts that make their favorite pastime more enjoyable. Gardeners appreciate gifts that help make the soil fertile, gardening tasks easier and flowerbeds come alive. They cherish gifts that, even when they can't be used for months, allow them to dream of lovely gardens.
Thoughtful shoppers and clever gift-givers can find or fashion presents, no matter if the gardener on their list has expansive gardens or merely a tiny plot. A durable wheelbarrow festooned with a bright red ribbon would lighten the load for anyone who hauls gardening supplies across a large yard.
Likewise, a few packets of seeds tucked in a small, decorative terra-cotta pot wrapped in tinted tissue paper and tied with some curly ribbon would gladden the heart of any apartment dweller who gardens on the windowsill.
Practical gifts are always appreciated, no matter the size of the garden. Most gardeners would love a 10-pound bag of rich potting soil or a 25-pound bag of premium birdseed.
Gift certificates to a garden center in any amount that fits the gift-giver's pocketbook are treasured. Anyone who has received one of these gift certificates in the past remembers how the anticipation mounts throughout each winter month while biding the time to cash it in. Then, with the arrival of spring and with what feels like reckless abandon, the flowers can be chosen with glee.
Gifts that keep giving
Another practical gift that doesn't cost any money is the gift of time your time. Scribe your offer to pull weeds, water the garden during a vacation or mow the lawn on paper. Wrap your "gift" in a small box and drop it into the gardener's hanging stocking. Other gifts of time that your recipients might value highly are offers to drive them to the garden center, cleaning gutters, raking leaves or hauling rock, soil or mulch.
For those of you looking for unique gifts, how about a jaunt to the nearest botanical garden, arboretum or nature preserve?
Unique, and slowly becoming more prevalent, are massages. A massage might be just perfect for the overeager gardener who forgets to ease muscles back into the rigors of gardening at the beginning of the season.
If you want to give a popular gift with an unusual twist, try a Christmas cactus that blooms in yellow. Like their red and pink counterparts, these unusual plants will bloom every year just in time for the holidays. When a potted 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.
A popular favorite with gardeners and non-gardeners alike is the well-known poinsettia. Poinsettias come in traditional red, white, pink and yellow color. Some have large smooth leaves, others small crinkly ones. No matter the color or shape, poinsettias announce the holiday season. Other flowering gifts to consider are the African violet plant, amaryllis plant, holly plant and an herb start kit.
Thoughtful gift ideas
Some mail-order catalogs, such as Jackson & Perkins, offer wonderful flowering plants. Arrangements can be ordered singly or, if you prefer, you can order up to 12 months' worth of potted beauties. Each month a different flowering plant will be sent to the person on your list.
Still haven't found the right gift? Well, browse through Santa's list of gift suggestions:
Bamboo stakes. Grab a whole handful and remember ties to go with them.
Books. Select some on annuals, perennials, herbs or houseplants.
Flower support rings. You have a choice of different shapes and sizes.
Gardening gloves. Depending on the task, pick up heavy duty ones, lightweight ones or waterproof ones.
Journals. Gardeners love to record the progress of their gardens.
Hammock. This is a great idea for those lazy days.
Hand lotion. Lotion is a must have, even for gardeners who wear gloves.
Kneeling pads. Homemade ones work just as well as store-bought.
Lawn care service. What a way to pamper the gardener.
Outdoor thermometer. Gardeners like to be informed.
Plant markers. Gardeners like to inform others.
Rain gauge. How else will gardeners know how much to water?
Shoe & boot brush. Two words clay soil.
Soaker hose. Two more words Kansas summers.
Subscription to a garden magazine. Ah, to read, perchance to dream.
Tool bucket. A great idea for toting small hand tools.
So, even though we have temporarily traded our gardening gloves for warm woolen mittens, let's enjoy the winter holidays.
Carol Boncella is education coordinator at Lawrence Memorial Hospital and garden writer for the Journal-World.