For The Answer
Buying a holiday gift for a gardener is relatively easy. There are many great items from which to choose and gifts are available at every price range.
The easiest present to purchase for a gardener is a gift certificate at his/her favorite retail nursery. It is usually obvious which nursery is the gardener’s favorite; they spend hours browsing and are always talking about what they saw at “the nursery” today. A gift certificate is a good choice because of its ease of purchase, you can select any price range, and it allows the gardener to select an item they need in the garden or landscape. Buying a plant, horticultural supplies or tools directly can sometimes be a problem if you select an item that does not fit into the landscape plan or gardening practices.
Many of us in South Texas that do any serious flower or vegetable gardens use raised beds. Mini tillers are designed for use in raised beds and make a good gift for the raised bed gardener. The Mantis tiller has been the favorite mini tiller for years. I have had great service from mine for 8 years. Other manufacturers also offer mini tillers. The famous chain saw manufacturer Stihl even has one now. Typically the Mantis sells for about $299. The Stihl version was $339 at one retailer.
Bird feeding can add a lot to the gardening experience. The Absolute steel feeder with a weight sensitive perch makes a great gift. It allows you to feed the cardinals, chickadees and finches without feeding the white winged doves and squirrels.
For a stocking stuffer visit the Gardening South Texas website plantanswers.com and sign your gardener up for the plantanswers newsletter. It covers local gardening topics each month through articles written by Dr. Jerry Parsons, myself and other area horticulturalists.
Books are always a great choice for the gardener. It is important however that the books address Texas gardening. Publications that try to cover the whole United States are usually not very useful to gardeners in San Antonio. Consider some of my favorite books.
Greg Grant has a new book, Home Landscaping: Texas. It is co-authored by Roger Holmes and retails for $19.95. The book has attractive photos and useful plant write-ups but the best feature is the Portfolio of Designs section. The authors have identified especially important or difficult portions of a landscape and offer designs to solve the problem. Among the topics in this category are shady corners, the area around the front door and screening an unsightly view.
Another book of special interest co-authored by Greg Grant is The Southern Heirloom Garden. William Welch was the co-author. This book is a good resource for gardeners wanting to utilize some of the plants or designs that their relatives from the old country brought to this area. I find it an interesting read because it is possible to follow the evolution of our current gardening situation through the contributions of the population groups that settled our area. The book is $29.95.
Scott Ogden’s books Gardening Success with Difficult Soils and Garden Bulbs for the South are very interesting. They describe varieties of plants that can cope with our soils and climate. Many of the selections are not easy to find. These are the books for a gardener looking to assemble an unusual collection of plants exceptionally suitable for South Texas gardeners. The books are $18.95 and $22.95 respectively.
One of the hardest things to do is to identify the native plants of South Texas and to incorporate them into our landscapes. If your gardener is fascinated by native plants consider the following titles: Native Texas Plants (Sally Wasowski), Trees, Shrubs and Cacti of South Texas (James Everitt, D. Lynn Drawe, Robert Lonard), A Field Guide to Common South Texas Shrubs (Richard Taylor, Jimmy Rutledge, Joe Herrera) and Wildflowers of the Texas Hill Country (Marshall Enquist).
Other books to consider are Perennial Garden Color (William Welch), Complete Guide to Texas Gardening (Neil Sperry), Garden Bulbs for the South (Scott Ogden), The Vegetable Book (Sam Cotner), Roses in the Southern Garden (G. Michael Shoup), Butterfly Gardening for the South (Geyata Ajilvsgi) and Attracting Birds to Southern Gardens (Thomas Pope, Neil Odenwald, Charles Fryling Jr.).