Second week of December 2014 Gift Ideas, from the Whistling Gardener

Christmas at Sunnyside Nursery.
The Whistling Gardener suggests buying yourself something fun for the garden. Photo courtesy of Sunnyside Nursery.

This weekly column is being reproduced with the permission of Steve Smith, The Whistling Gardener, and owner of Sunnyside Nursery in Marysville.

Damn, zapped again!

Yup, that’s twice now in less than 30 days that we have plunged into the low 20’s and even high teens for five days or more and I suspect that most of us were not prepared for it.

I for one never got around to wrapping my hardy banana plants with foil covered bubble wrap like I usually do. Also, several of my smaller containers didn’t get put into a protected area and so now the question becomes: “Is it too late to protect anything for the rest of the winter?” The answer is a resounding no, it’s not too late.

Rest assured that we will have more freezes before the winter is over and the more we can do to limit further exposure the better off our plants will be.

Before the next hard freeze arrives purchase some frost protection fabric and have it ready to throw over those tender plants. Most garden centers and hardware stores stock several sizes including bags with draw-strings that can cover a single shrub.

Low growing plants like evergreen perennials can be covered with straw but don’t bury the crowns with dense materials like compost or your plants might rot.

Don’t worry now about removing frozen leaves, it’s better to wait until late February to assess the damage and do the cleanup then. For now stay out of the garden as long as it is frozen and try not to think about what might be alive or dead. Instead, dream about spring and lift your spirits by planting more bulbs (yes, it’s not too late to plant and most retailers have them on 40% off) and buying yourself something fun for the garden.

Here are some ideas to distract you.

Radius Tools Stainless Steel Pro Border Fork: these tools are ergonomically designed to reduce fatigue and their colorful finishes help prevent their loss in the yard or compost pile.

I have gone through multiple border forks over my years of gardening and these seem to be one of the best on the market. They normally retail for $49.99 which makes them an investment (think of gifting them to your grandchildren) but they will rapidly become one of your favorite tools in the shed.

I just found a screaming deal from my supplier and we will be able to sell them for 29.99 while supplies last. Radius make all sorts of tools with the same ergonomic design starting from $9.99 so you might consider a few other styles while you are at it.

Botanical Interest Seed Sprouter: here’s an idea that harkens back to my hippie days when we used to make our own yogurt and mayonnaise and grow most of our food.

Sprouting seeds is easy and a nutritious way to eat your vegetables whether you put them on sandwiches or into salads. Botanical Interest has a wonderful collection of different types of seeds suitable for sprouting so you don’t have to settle for just alfalfa or mung beans.

Cost of the sprouter runs around $24.00 and the assorted seed packets range from $2.99 to $3.99.

Muck Boots: the entire staff at Sunnyside Nursery wears these comfortable and waterproof slip on shoes that have a breathable and removable insert. The Edgewater is the style we have sold for years and it retails in the high $80’s, again no small investment but not an unreasonable price for a quality shoe.

Muck also makes what they call the Daily Shoe which looks almost identical but is of lesser quality. Don’t get confused between these two styles. The Edgewater is hands down the best waterproof gardening shoe on the market.

Steve Smith is owner of Sunnyside Nursery in Marysville and can be reached online at


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