For The Answer
Week of December 15, 2003
Calvin Finch, Conservation Director, SAWS, and Horticulturist
CHRISTMAS GIFTS FOR THE GARDENER
If you have not completed your gift shopping for the gardeners on your Christmas list, consider these suggestions.
Gardeners treasure high-quality pruning tools. A good Corona hand pruner will be appreciated for years. Include a leather carrying case and your gardener may even wear it when he/she is not even going to prune. They look good, work well, and make a gardener feel prepared.
One of my favorite tools is the portable saw. The Felco 60 folds into its handle for safe and easy transport. The 8-inch blade can cut branches up to three inches in diameter. Other brands also offer similar saws. Lopping shears are just big pruning shears. Fiskars offers a wonderful line of composite plastic loppers that are very tough and useful for pruning branches up to two inches.
Look for gardening tools at your favorite nursery or horticultural supply store. For a Holiday gift to be remembered buy premium quality tools; they are the safest and only slightly more expensive than the cheaper versions.
Plants, soil, mulch, and compost are neat gifts, but it is easiest to buy a gift certificate at your gardener’s favorite store and let them take delivery when it is convenient. You also want to make sure that the gardener receives the plants or materials that fit into their landscape plans. One gift in this category that I think will be especially clever and useful is to purchase a gift certificate at the neighborhood rental store for a lawn aerator and another gift certificate at Oak Hills Top Soil & Mulch (830-249-3575) for top dressing. Oak Hills has a unique rig that blows out compost uniformly over the yard. If your gardener will benefit from the exercise, buy them a gift certificate for compost for top dressing to be delivered by Keller Material, Fertile Garden Supply, Garden-Ville, or other supplier. Figure about 12 cubic yards of material for an 8,000 sq. ft. lawn.
Most gardeners also appreciate birds. Consider the Absolute steel bird feeders with a weight-sensitive perch to prevent squirrels and white wing doves from hogging the sunflower seeds. Hummingbird feeders make nice stocking stuffers, as do suet blocks. Provide a whole set of the flavored suet blocks so your gardener can determine whether orange, raisin, or peanut flavored suet is the favorite suet in his/her garden. Make sure you include pepper-flavored suet if squirrels are a problem. The birds like the pepper flavored suet and the squirrels burn their lips.
Thistle feeders are also fun. They attract American and lesser goldfinches to balconies and patios without leaving as much litter as sunflower seeds.
If your gardener has container plants there are some neat drip irrigation kits for containers that make a good gift. Water barrels are bulkier than drip irrigation kits but can be a useful gift. Buy a fancy plastic system that fits flat against the house (sold at Milbergers) or visit Dave the Barrel Man’s store at 811 Roosevelt (534-5416) for a less expensive model. If you live near Great Northwest Neighborhood Association is building rain barrels as a fundraiser. Call Bill McDonough at 86808157 for more information. The Garden Volunteers of South Texas (522-9220; open Mondays, Wednesdays, and Fridays from 10 a.m. until 2 p.m.) also sell the completed system.
If you would rather just browse for the right gifts consider visiting the Schultze House Gift Shop located in HemisFair Park (514 HemisFair Park; 229-9161). View the beautiful cottage garden first and then shop for Christmas gifts. The Master Gardener volunteers maintain the garden, which is supported by sales at the gift shop. The Garden Gate Gift Shop (829-1227) at the San Antonio Botanical Garden is also a good place for gift shopping. They are open seven days a week. Happy Holidays!