Great Gifts for Gardeners

amaryllis_gretnala_20090619_lah_4153-1Ah, Christmas time. The fresh scent of evergreens. Tasty cookies and other special treats. Carols, decorations, and, yes, gifts. I love giving gifts—when I know just what to give. If you have gardeners on your list, lucky you—you shouldn’t have any problem picking out something they’ll love. Perhaps one of these ideas will be perfect.

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Gifts for Bird Lovers

birdwatcher socksThanksgiving is past and we’re fully into the frenetic holiday shopping season. Birding websites and magazines will be running lists of gift ideas for birders—new binoculars, field guides and apps, birding accessories, etc. As a birder myself, I would certainly love to receive one of these items, but most of them are pretty expensive.

I’ve created a (very short) list of bird-related gifts which won’t break your wallet (they’re all under $25), ranging from silly stocking stuffers to practical clothing. These are just the beginning, a source of inspiration, as there are hundreds of bird-related gifts just waiting to be discovered.

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Valentine Cyclamen

Cyclamen persicum_DBG_LAH_6366.nefIt’s Valentine’s Day, one of the busiest days of the year for your friendly neighborhood florist. My husband knows I like receiving flowers on this most romantic of holidays. He also knows that I appreciate getting a plant that is still alive and growing, as opposed to cut flowers that will soon wilt and be composted.

One popular Valentine plant is the Florist’s Cyclamen. These cyclamen are decidedly beautiful—delicate and romantic—but are difficult plants to keep indoors.

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Five Gardening Gifts to Avoid

Sometimes knowing what not to buy is just as valuable as a list of the hottest items. Here to help you out: five items not to give your gardening friend or relative.

plastic trowelA wimpy trowel.  A good trowel is a treasure, and hard to find. Cheap ones (like the one shown here, which has a plastic handle!) either bend or break. It’s rather frustrating to stick the blade into the soil and have it bend backwards instead of moving the dirt! Even worse is when the handle comes off. You can jam it back on, but from then on, the handle will be unreliable. Make sure any trowels you buy are sturdy and have a blade that can be sharpened. Even better: get on with a red handle (or paint it yourself), so you can find it in the garden.

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Gifts to Avoid for Bird Lovers

Wondering what to get that birder on your list? There are plenty of websites that offer the best gifts for bird lovers. But how do you know to avoid those gifts that won’t deliver as expected? Here are my suggestions on what not to buy, and why:

Felt-birdhousesFelt birdhouse. These are adorable but they have some serious shortcomings if you intend to actually offer them as nest boxes. For one, felt may be “naturally waterproof” but the blurb goes on to mention that you can air dry them if they become soaked. A soaked house is not healthy for baby birds.

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Beyond Roses

rose_bundlesHeading to the store to buy a dozen red roses for Valentine’s Day? How cliché! Everybody gives roses. Unless you know your sweetie is a rose aficionado, don’t follow the herd—dare to be different! Break out of your routine and expand your horizons. There are a lot of other flowers out there feeling pretty unappreciated right now.

Carnations
Carnation 'Moondust' - wikicommons
I admit, I really don’t care that much for roses. I would much prefer a bouquet of carnations. They last twice as long—or longer. I think they smell better, too. And there’s something… unassuming about a dozen humble carnations in a plain white vase that appeals to me. (My husband is delighted I like carnations, as they’re much cheaper, too.) You can go for red, pink, white, or a combination perfect for Valentine’s Day, but they come in yellow and orange too. Other colors (green is popular around St. Patrick’s Day) are artificially induced. Placing a white flower in a vase of colored water does the trick.

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Birdy Gift Ideas

kingfisherI admit to feeling a bit smug. My Christmas shopping is done, the gifts are wrapped and delivered, and I can relax with a cup of tea and simply enjoy the season. However, I realize a lot of people are still wracking their brains for the perfect present for someone. I can’t help you with Aunt Milley who has everything, but I do have some ideas for any birders on your list. Happily, birders are easy to shop for. Pretty much anything bird-related is bound to be a hit.

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Birding Books for Kids

Any birder with a child in their life is eager to pass along their love of birds and nature in general. Pete and I have been blessed with a granddaughter, and even though she’s only seven months old, I’m already on the lookout for ways to share my interests.

At this tender age, she isn’t quite ready for her own binos—she’d probably try to eat them. Plus, she lives halfway across the country, so I can’t take her outside with me nearly as much as I’d like. Still, you can bet that most of the gifts from grandma this Christmas will have something to do with nature.

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Thanksgiving Mums

Happy Thanksgiving! The table is set and the aroma of roasting turkey fills the air. You hear the doorbell and go to answer it. Sure enough, your dinner guests have arrived bearing pumpkin pies, hearty appetites… and a potted chrysanthemum.

Familiar as corsages and potted gift plants, chrysanthemums are the iconic fall bloomer. Available in a wide range of colors, from white through yellows to reds, pinks and purples, there is a shade for every garden. Orange, russets and golds are particularly appropriate for this time of year. Forms vary just as much. Spider mums have long petals forming shaggy heads, while others resemble simple daisies. Most garden varieties have double flowers such as the ones pictured here. All in all, the US National Chrysanthemum Society recognizes thirteen bloom types. The flowers are supported by stiff stems approximately two feet high and adorned with elongated heart-shaped gray-green leaves with uneven edges.

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The Human Side of Gardening

greenprintsIt’s the time of year we give gifts, and by now, we probably need all the help we can get in picking out just the right thing. If there is a gardener on your list who already has all the spades, gardening gloves, and yard ornaments they can ever use (or even if they don’t), I have the perfect suggestion.

Give them a subscription to GreenPrints: The Weeder’s Digest.

Years ago my husband introduced me to this magazine, and it’s still one of the best gift ideas he ever had. There are plenty of “how-to” garden magazines out there, filled with photos of weed-free, perfectly pruned gardens, exotic plants (at least to a Colorado gardener), and bug-free vegetables. It’s enough to make an honest gardener throw in the trowel. (Sorry. Couldn’t resist.)

This magazine isn’t like that.

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