Lifestyle

MINTER: Give the gift of gardening to a green thumb you know

You may have already discovered this reality: When it comes to gardening gifts, passionate gardeners are very particular, so here are some suggestions that you might find helpful.

There are so many great gardening books available today. It is well worth a browse in the gardening section of your favourite book store. Gardeners love quality books with great information and lots of coloured photographs. The Sunset Western Garden Book is probably one of the most useful. You might also consider a gift subscription to one of our excellent BC gardening magazines, like Gardens West.

At the high end of gardening gifts, a greenhouse is a present to be enjoyed for many years. My advice is to buy the best quality which usually means aluminium and glass construction. Greenhouses are a great way to extend the growing season and a useful place for winter storage of less hardy plants and bulbs. The latest trend in Europe is a conservatory added to the home. It’s a wonderful way to bring the outside inside and makes an awesome living space. A less expensive alternative is a windowsill greenhouse, which, by the way, makes a perfect spot to grow almost anything.

If your gardener has a greenhouse, accessories such as heating pads and cables, quality watering accessories, like the world famous English Hawes watering cans and maximum-minimum thermometers are always appreciated.

Attracting wildlife to gardens has become quite a trend these days. Birdbaths and birdbath heaters, feeders and bird houses are great gifts for children and shut-ins. Birding is the number two leisure activity in North America and birding accessories are a nice present for those who enjoy this hobby. During winter cold spells, the birds would appreciate some help too.

There are a whole host of gardening gift ideas like quality tools, gardeners' soap, richly toned wind chimes and gardening videos. There are also ergonomically designed tools for easy of use. For those gardeners who are finding it a little more difficult to kneel down and get back up, handy kneelers, which double as a seat, are awesome. Complete gardening ‘wardrobes’ are available from gardening hats, gloves, aprons and footwear to knee pads and garden tool belts. A gift certificate to a favourite gardening store is also a valued treasure.

Water in the garden is very popular these days and everything from pre-formed ponds to pumps, fountains, filters, waterfalls and LED underwater lights are huge hits as gifts. A ‘vanishing water’ feature, with water bubbling up through pre-drilled basalt stones, is the next big thing. A pump and kit that houses this beautiful patio feature makes a wonderful gift to be enjoyed for years.

Research has revealed that of all the gifts people receive, flowers make folks the happiest. Long-lasting and perfumed Christmas bouquets with seasonal fragrant greens are a real treat anytime over the Christmas season.

Gardeners love plants best of all and there are some wonderful new hardy plants they can enjoy in the late fall and winter. ‘Bloomerang’ lilacs that bloom twice, winter blooming jasmine, viburnums and sasanqua camellias are fabulous. Peeling bark maples, coral bark maples and contorted filberts and willows are a joy in winter. ‘Pink Lemonade’ blueberries, the new haskap berries, figs and dwarf sour cherries will be the ‘hottie’ foods for 2013.

By stepping out of the box a wee bit, there are some wonderful European garden tours out there and Donna Dawson, at icangarden.com provides some of the very best. Garden makeovers are all the rage today and a gift certificate from a quality garden designer is also a wonderful gift.

Tickets to the Northwest Flower and Garden Show in Seattle this coming February 20-24 would be a treasured gift (tickets can be purchased online). Tickets or season passes to some of our wonderful Lower Mainland or Vancouver Island gardens would also be a splendid idea.

Helping out folks in other parts of the world is very important and according to World Vision, 77% of Canadians would prefer to give a gift that helps others. By sending a donation for an ‘agricultural gift’ from their catalogue, you could provide Moringa trees in Africa, drought resistant olive trees in the Middle East or help a family start an orchard so they can provide their own food. You can contact World Vision Canada at 1-866-595-5550 or by email at info@worldvision.ca.

Most gardeners appreciate something unique and different. Quality and usefulness are perhaps the two most important criteria to keep in mind. I hope this helps.

Brian Minter is owner of Minter Gardens in Chilliwack.

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