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"Last minute gift ideas," by the Whistling Gardener

I know it is crunch time for gift buying and you might still have a few tough ones to figure out. Avoid the crazy mall madness and have an actual tactile experience of touching the gifts you’re searching for AT your favorite garden center.
Houseplant mix. 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.

I know it is crunch time for gift buying and you might still have a few tough ones to figure out. Avoid the crazy mall madness and have an actual tactile experience of touching the gifts you’re searching for (to maybe even be hand-wrapped with care, rather than just clicking a mouse for an online purchase) by traveling down to your favorite garden center where there is always plenty of parking this time of year - you just might find that something perfect you’ve been hunting for.

Here are a few ideas to try out:

For your Organic-Only friend who wants to be actively involved in the food they eat, get them the Maritime Gardening Guide. I recommend this book every year because it is hands down the ultimate gardening bible for northwest vegetable growers. Locally authored, the information is regionally appropriate, time tested, easy to understand for both the beginner and advanced gardener, and economical at under $20.00. Even the omniscient Whistling Gardener owns one - how’s that for an endorsement!

For the New Homeowner who needs tools but doesn’t have them all yet, get them Wolf Garten tools. Essentially you buy one long and one short handle, then you can interchange a whole plethora of heads such as hoes, cultivators, weeders, or what have you. Once you have the handle you can add an attachment every year. Just think of the possibilities, birthdays, anniversaries, Valentine’s day and of course Christmas.

For the Patriarch in your family who likes to know what’s happening next, get them the Farmer’s Almanac. A combination of entertainment and education, this publication takes the Maritime Gardening Guide to the next level. Part fact and part folklore, the almanac is always fun to read. It is a useful gardening guide, that under $7.00 is at the very least, cheap entertainment. For only a few dollars more, you can purchase the Farmer’s Almanac calendar to be enjoyed all year long, just by looking at the beautiful colorful pictures without having to read a single word. There are days when this is just what I need.

For the Animal Lover in your life who wants to always take care of all the animals, get them a bird feeder! There is no better form of winter recreation than watching the colorful antics of our local bird populations. Stellar jays, hooded Juncos, chickadees, flickers, bushtits, and my very favorite, those crazy hummingbirds, all visit my yard in the winter because I have water, food for them, and lots of vegetation where they can feel protected to raise their young come spring. I focus on suet for most of my birds and nectar for the hummers. It’s a great way to help the birds through winter while providing fun bird-watching entertainment for us.

For your Aunt and Uncle who have everything, get them a winter interest plant! Although difficult to wrap and place under the tree, plants make a wonderful gift that can be remembered for years as they grow and mature in the garden. Hellebores, Iceberg Alley willow, Viburnum “Dawn,”Charity” Mahonia, Camellias, and a wide range of colorfully foliaged conifers and broadleaf evergreens all provide winter interest in our gardens that can be appreciated for years to come.

For the Millennial in your in life who’s always plugged into technology, get them a houseplant! Younger people are taking a serious interest in indoor plant keeping, giving them a healthy new hobby to dive into. Help fuel this new hobby with a cool cactus, a fragrant jasmine, a split-leaf philodendron or a sophisticated succulent container. Houseplants have so many benefits, all by bringing the outdoors in.

For the Matriarch in your family who has very specific tastes, get her a gift card! Avoid the headache of trying to find her that perfect gift (one she won’t return later) and let her pick her own present out. This has the added bonus of providing an opportunity for you to join her in a spring field trip adventure (bonding time!) to her favorite garden center. Now that’s a “win-win” gift in my book.

Steve Smith is the owner of Sunnyside Nursery in Marysville, WA, and can be reached at info@sunnysidenursery.net.

I know it is crunch time for gift buying and you might still have a few tough ones to figure out. Avoid the crazy mall madness and have an actual tactile experience of touching the gifts you’re searching for AT your favorite garden center.

Farmer's Almanac and Calendar. Photo courtesy of Sunnyside Nursery.

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