The Plant Man column
for publication week of 12/18/05 - 12/24/05
The Plant Man
by Steve Jones
Garden gifts help cure the winter blahs
You've seen the tell-tale signs. The garden lovers in your household
stand by the window, gazing out at a barren landscape. Slowly, their
eyes move from the grey skies to the stark tree tops and finally down
to the monochrome hues of dormant lawn and flowerbed. Their shoulders
slump and they let out a long, sad sigh...
The diagnosis: they're suffering from SITS Syndrome. What's that?
You say you've never heard of SITS? It stands for Stuck Inside Til
Spring. And you haven't heard of it because I just made it up.
However, the ailment is real enough. Those of us who love being
outdoors get the winter blahs right about now. We think of all the
things we should have done last season, and we're chomping at the bit
to get on with new projects as soon as spring arrives.
If you have a SITS sufferer in your house, there's at least one way
for you to help them get through the winter... and to quit driving you
crazy with all that moping and sighing. With the Holidays upon us, the
answer is simple: a gift (or two) that will lift your landscape
lover's spirits and put the color back in that green thumb! And if
it's YOU that's suffering, simply clip out this column, highlight
where appropriate and leave it somewhere conspicuous.
Here are some quick idea sparkers for the garden and landscape
enthusiasts in your family:
Dig into a book
There must be almost as many gardening books as cook books out there,
and every year sees more being published. A trip to the book store is
always fun, but if you can't stand the mall crowds, shop online.
In addition to the usual Web-based bookstores, surf around for some
special sources, such as http://www.nybgshopinthegarden.org/ an
excellent site hosted by the New York Botanical Gardens. Here you'll
find virtual "shelves"of books under topics such as garden design,
herbs & healing plants and gardening for children. There's a sale
section with titles such as "The Outdoor Garden Room" ($7.50),
"Garden Mania" ($7.49) described as a cornucopia of garden design
and ornament, choc full of historical diagrams and drawings, and
"Life in the Woodlands: Animals, People, Plants" ($3.48), a book
for young adults about how our environment has been damaged and how to
If you know someone who is into the all-natural approach to creating a
landscape, give them "Rodale's All-New Encyclopedia of Organic
Gardening." It lists for about $49.00 but it always seems to be on
sale for a lot less and is a useful reference for non-chemical
gardening. You can find this at bookstores and from online resources.
A cool tool now will give your gardener inspiration for the season to
come! How about a really neat tool caddy? My favorite looks like a
small pull-along golf caddy that holds tools instead of clubs. It has a
bunch of side pockets for gloves, clippers, seeds and all the other
bits and pieces you want to keep handy. Drop me a line at
email@example.com for shopping information.
For the Birds... and Bats
For the bird lover on your list, you can't go wrong with a new bird
feeder, and this is one outdoor gift that can be used right away. A
simple 2-sided or 4-sided hopper is easy to fill and maintain, and some
hoppers come with suet cages too.
A bat house kit is a great rainy day project that you can share with
the kids. For around $25.00 you can get a kit that is fairly simple to
assemble and is an excellent idea if you're plagued by mosquitoes in
the summer. Bats are a great (and natural) way to control skeeters,
eating hundreds or even thousands of the little pests every night.
Everyone loves the sight of colorful butterflies flitting around the
garden in the summer. A butterfly house gives them a good reason to
stay around your yard, particularly if you place it near some Buddleia
davidii (butterfly bushes). Again, I can give you some shopping info if
you drop me an e-mail.
If you have a unique way to banish the winter garden blahs, send it to
me in an e-mail and it might end up here in this column.
The Plant Man is here to help. Send questions about trees, shrubs and
landscaping to firstname.lastname@example.org For resources and additional
information, or to subscribe to Steve's free e-mailed newsletter, go