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Milberger's Nursery and Landscaping
3920 North Loop 1604 E.
San Antonio, TX 78247

Open 9 to 6 Mon. through Sat.
and 10 to 5 on Sun.

Three exits east of 281, inside of 1604
Next to the Diamond Shamrock station
Please click map for more detailed map and driving directions.

Click here


Express-News Weekly Column Saturday, December 9, 2000 Submitted by Calvin Finch, Ph.D., Director of Conservation, SAWS, and Horticulturist


It is mostly gardeners that read this column. Every year I produce a list of recommended gifts for the gardener and it is the reader’s responsibility to get the information to potential gift givers. Gardeners do it by bringing up the ideas nonchalantly in conversation or, for those of us that are less subtle, we tape the article to the night table or refrigerator door with the items we want underlined.

This year it has been suggested that my list of gifts include at least a few ideas for the gardener who reads the column, but who is seeking gift ideas for the non-gardener. Therefore, to placate my non-gardening critics my first gift idea for 2000 is a front-end loading washing machine!

Anyone who washes clothes (gardener or not) knows that a front end loading washer is superior to a top loader. It is easier on the clothes and uses less water and less energy. A gardener with stained knees on their gardening slacks probably does not have a front-end loader. The problem with front-end loaders is that they are expensive, about $200 more expensive than top loaders. Now, however, SAWS (or Bexar Met.) and CPS will each give their customers a $100 rebate towards their account ($200 total) to equalize the cost. For a rebate application call 704-7527.

Writing about washing machines reminds me of another gift idea that spins. There is a new squirrel resistant feeder where the perch is weight-sensitive and spins the squirrel or white wing dove off of the feeder. We cannot give a SAWS rebate on the feeder but it will be a fun gift for the bird lover that complains all the time about the squirrels.

Do you buy holiday flowers for friends and relatives? This year consider the cyclamen. It has beautiful orchid-like red, pink, lavender or white blooms on stalks. After a two or three week stint in the house, plant it in a container outside in the shade and it will bloom all winter.

For a stocking stuffer for the gardener the “Xeriscape Conversion Guide” is a great gift. It is $5 at your favorite nursery or from the Bexar County Master Gardeners. Send $7.40 to Xeriscape Conversion Guide, Bexar County Master Gardeners, 3355 Cherry Ridge Dr., Suite 208, San Antonio, TX 78230. The 32-page booklet has the best xeriscape plant list available and walks you step by step through the effort to convert a St. Augustine dominated yard into a carefree, colorful xeriscape.

One of the most effective water saving technologies is drip irrigation. Drip irrigation can be given as a gift in several forms. Some nurseries and home improvement stores offer drip irrigation kits of many sizes and shapes. If your gardener has container plants, a small vegetable garden or flower bed, there are kits for all those applications. Another option is to get a rough plan of the garden and carry it to one of the organic soil suppliers or nurseries that custom build drip irrigation systems. They will tell you approximately how much the system will cost and you can buy a gift certificate of that value.

Gift certificates are always convenient. Buy the Xeriscape Conversion Guide and then purchase a gift certificate at your gardener’s favorite nursery that will allow her/him to buy a plant from the xeriscape list.

Mulch or compost is not a romantic gift but is much appreciated by the gardener. Present it as a gift certificate or have a pile delivered to the front yard!

Books are always wonderful gifts for the gardener. We have a good selection of books that are especially relevant for the South Texas area. “Perennial Garden Color” and Antique Roses” by Dr. Bill Welch are two of the best. Many of the photos and examples cited are local gardens. Scott Ogden has produced two worth books, “Gardening Success With Difficult Soils” and “Garden Bulbs for the South”. He emphasizes plants and cultural practices that are environmentally appropriate. “Gardening With Native Plants in the South” by Sally and Andy Wasowski is a must book for a gardener that wants a landscape that is well suited for our cycles of drought and wet weather. One of my favorite gardening books is “Attracting Birds to Southern Gardens” by Pope, Fryling and Odenwald. Wildscape is a variation of xeriscape that emphasizes plants that attract birds and butterflies. Paul Cox, the Assistant Superintendent of the San Antonio Botanical Gardens and an outstanding horticulturist, and Patty Leslie cooperated to produce “Texas Trees: A Friendly Guide”, a book that is fun to read because of its wealth of anecdotes and historical stories. It is also a useful guide to select trees for the xeriscape.

Find all of these gift ideas (except the washing machine) and more at your favorite neighborhood nursery or organic material store. The gift shops at the San Antonio Botanical Gardens (555 Funston Place) and the Schultze House (514 HemisFair Park) are also fun places to shop. For more information and business hours call the Botanical Gardens Gift Shop at 829-1227 and the Schultze House Gift Shop at 229-9161. Make a day of it by enjoying the gardens before you make your gift selections.