The Plant Man column
for publication week of 12/05/04 - 12/11/04
The Plant Man
by Steve Jones
Holiday gift ideas for gardeners and landscape lovers
The Holidays are fast approaching, and no doubt there are some garden
enthusiasts on your gift list. Here are some gift ideas for all those Green
Thumbs... and some for the "horticulturally challenged" as well.
Hoping to get some garden paraphernalia yourself? Maybe you should circle
or highlight some of my suggestions and strategically place this page as a
hint for your significant other!
Instead of the common-or-garden variety, treat your favorite horticulture
fan to something special. The biggest problem with most hoses is that they
get in a tangle and are a real nuisance to stow away after use, even when
using a reel with a crank handle.
Recently, several manufacturers introduced self-coiling hoses that look a
bit like an oversized version of that curly cable attached to the handset of
your telephone. You simply attach one end to the faucet and stretch the
hose out to the area you need to water. When you're done, the hose stores
itself back in a neat, compact coil. A good example is the aptly-named
Anaconda brand that includes a trigger sprayer and a watering wand for about
$70.00. There is also smaller version, ideal for use in greenhouses and for
watering hang plant baskets.
A new feeding station is always a welcome gift for anyone who cares about
wild birds. You can find a wide variety from basic models at local stores
to more sophisticated examples available from mail-order catalogs or online.
To attract the very smallest birds, some feeders utilize a fine mesh that
can be filled with thistle and will thwart the beaks of larger birds. Other
models have ingenious devices to prevent squirrels devouring all the bird
seed, and some come with suet cages attached to the sides to provide a birdy
buffet. Expect to pay $20.00 to $75.00, depending on the style and quality
of the feeder you select.
Bat House or Butterfly House
I've described the benefits of both of these before and you can find a lot
more information in previous columns archived at my web site. Go to
www.landsteward.org and click on the "Plant Man" column to scroll through
the column titles.
Briefly, if the person on your list is plagued by mosquitoes, a bat house
provides living quarters for the critters that can consume literally
thousands of skeeters every night. And it's the mosquitoes NOT the bats that
suck your blood!
A butterfly house provides a sanctuary that will attract these delightful
creatures to the garden next summer, particularly when placed near plants
that butterflies love, such as Buddleia davidii (also known as the Butterfly
As always, you get what you pay for. Good quality bat houses and butterfly
houses are in the $60.00 - $70.00 range, but certainly look better and last
longer than cheaper, flimsier versions.
It seems there is no longer a stigma attached to the word "Dummy." So if
your loved one has no self-image issues, consider "Landscaping for Dummies"
or "Gardening for Dummies." Both are probably best suited to novice
gardeners or new homeowners looking for some basic advice. Available at
bookstores and those online book warehouses.
Odds and Ends...
You can't go wrong with a good pair of gardening gloves! Both the weekend
warrior and the seasoned landscaper need decent gloves to protect their
hands from the thorns and splinters.
How about a magazine subscription? There are many titles to choose from.
Among the best: Gardening How-To (with step-by-step instructions), Backyard
Living (with plans for outdoor DIY projects) or Horticulture (aimed at the
serious garden enthusiast).
A garden caddy or cart is a nice gift for anyone who wants to tote along
tools, seeds, twine, gloves and everything else as they work on their
landscape projects. There are several choices out there from the simple to
the more sophisticated.
I'll be happy to provide some specific product suggestions if you care to
send me an e-mail with a few details about the person you're buying for or
the product you're looking for!
The Plant Man is here to help. Send your questions about trees, shrubs and
landscaping to firstname.lastname@example.org and for resources and additional
information, or to subscribe to Steve's free e-mailed newsletter, visit
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