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November 20, 2012   Email to Friend 

Alabama Gardener
Lois Chaplin

The holidays come at a good time for gardeners — between gardening seasons — when all the regrouping, restocking, and planning happens and when wish lists are made. So, this is a chance to give the gardener on your Christmas list something to be excited about. Perhaps you already know what they want or need. Good for you. You can turn the page. However, if you need ideas, there are many options — from almost diamond-studded stainless steel digging tools to a truckload of manure. Here are a few to get you started.

The first is an experience — a couple of days at the 27th Annual Southern Gardening Symposium at Callaway Gardens in Pine Mountain, Ga. It takes place Jan. 25-27, 2013, and brings together gardeners from the region to hear interesting speakers on a variety of gardening topics. The times between programs are always lots of fun, too. Your gardener will love the silent auction, which is a great opportunity to pick up a special plant. Learn more about it by checking educational programs at callawaygardens.com. This is the priciest of the ideas, but it can also double as a weekend getaway, especially if there is another party who enjoys gardening, golf or bicycling.

Gardeners love to get “big” useful items that they might not buy or install for themselves. These make good family gifts to share among several givers. Some possibilities include a big-wheeled garden cart, a large and colorful glazed garden container, a raised bed, a garden fountain, a compost tumbler, a blueberry hedge or an assortment of fruit trees (planting labor included), a drip irrigation system, or a gazebo or nice swing to enjoy a view of the garden.

If watering is a chore that limits gardening success for your gardener, seriously consider the drip irrigation option, especially for lots of containers. It will take some time to set up, but you’ll certainly have an early start. You can buy kits for a few pots or a-la-carte components to create a customized system for flowers, shrubs and the vegetable garden.

Smaller things that fit under the tree include last-a-lifetime Felco pruners (mine are 35 years old), rubber-tipped gardening gloves, elbow length gloves for pruning thorny plants, a gift certificate to a favorite garden center, a new trowel, a classic Haws watering can designed for balance and ease, or a durable bird feeder such as the Droll Yankee brand.

Folks who like to challenge the weather will appreciate season extenders such as a pop-up cold frame or mini-greenhouse, and frost protection items such as Wall-O-Water or frost tunnels. Our frost cloths allow us to harvest lettuce and greens all winter long. It’s amazing how much difference just a few degrees of extra warmth can make to the growth of cool-weather greens through winter. Season extender tools such as shade cloth will also make salad greens last a little longer in spring by keeping them cooler.

If you know someone new to gardening or a first-time homeowner, start with a good basic book, such as the Southern Living Garden Book. Finally, there are always houseplants and a beautiful cachepot for just about anyone, even those who don’t do a lot of digging outdoors. If you are a gardener reading this, there may still be time to make your own wish list to share with loved ones unless, of course, you really do need a new tie or set of dish towels.

Lois Chaplin is an accomplished gardener and author. Her work appears here courtesy of Alabama Farmers Cooperative.


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