Weekly Column, Week of December
11, 2000 Prime Time Newspapers Calvin R. Finch, Ph.D., Director
of Conservation, SAWS, and Horticulturist
HOLIDAY GIFT IDEAS FOR THE
Buying holiday gifts for gardeners is fun
and relatively easy. There are many choices. The first thing that
comes to mind is books. There are some wonderful books available
that every gardener would love to have in his/her library.
Neil Sperry’s “Complete Guide to Texas Gardening”
is the basic text for area gardeners. It has sections on turf,
vegetables, color and landscape, with good photos and diagrams.
“Perennial Garden Color” and “Antique Roses” are two outstanding
books by Bill Welch. Andy and Sally Wasowski’s “Gardening with
Native Plants in the South” is also a classic. The photos help
ID native plants and the text provides ideas about how to use
them. A less expensive book is Paul Cox’s and Patty Leslie’s “Texas
Trees: a Friendly Guide”. The book relies on line drawings, so
it isn’t the best guide for plant ID but the text is rich with
anecdotes and the history of the trees and their role with Texas
pioneers. Another local author, Scott Ogden, has two books that
rate high on my list: “Gardening Success With Difficult Soils”
and “Garden Bulbs for the South”. Vegetable growers will value
“Texas Gardening: Vegetables” by Sam Cotner.
Wildscaping is a popular way of gardening.
It is a form of xeriscape that emphasizes plants that attract
birds and butterflies. Parks & Wildlife Press offers “Texas Wildscapes:
Gardening for Wildlife” by Damude & Benders available at local
book stores for $24.95. Another stocking stuffer is the “Xeriscape
Conversion Guide” offered by the Bexar County Master Gardeners.
It is available at most area nurseries, the Botanical Gardens
gift shop, and at the Master Gardener office. At $5 it is the
best bargain around. The plant list is outstanding.
My favorite book on attracting birds is “Attracting
Birds to Southern Gardens” by Thomas Pope, Odenwald and Fryling.
It has great photos and includes all the plants like fire bush
and firespike that are left out of books by northern authors.
Does your gardener complain about the squirrels
at his/her birdfeeders? Consider two bird feeder options that
resist the advances of the clever pests: (1) The Absolute brand
feeder is steel and has a weight-sensitive perch so you can set
the weight to accept cardinals but reject white wing doves and
squirrels. I know the Absolute feeders work because I use them
in my yard. At about $60 they are not cheap; (2) If you are willing
to spend $120 and your gardener likes technology, consider the
new feeders that feature a perch that spins the squirrels off
when they visit.
After fighting the drought all summer gardeners
that do not have drip irrigation would love the gift of one of
the kits available at home improvement centers and some nurseries
for vegetable gardens, containers, flower beds and even newly
Rather than buy plants for the gardener in
your life present a gift certificate so they can pick the plants
that fit their plan when they are ready to plant them. Gift certificates
also work well for mulch and compost. Such materials are not romantic
but they are treasured and very important to the San Antonio area
The ”San Antonio Gardener” newsletter is a
monthly publication produced by the Bexar County Master Gardeners.
It provides articles by area gardeners and a comprehensive list
of area horticultural events every month. To purchase a gift subscription
send $12 to SAG Gift Subscription, Bexar County Master Gardeners,
3355 Cherry Ridge Dr., Suite 208, San Antonio, TX 78230. Please
send a note telling them who it’s from and who it is going to.
The Master Gardeners will send a notice to the recipient notifying
them of the gift.
Look for the gifts mentioned in this article
and other gifts at your favorite neighborhood nursery or organic
material supplier. Two other places to shop for gardening related
items are the gift shops at the San Antonio Botanical Gardens
and the Schultze House at 514 HemisFair Park. Buy Christmas presents
and enjoy the great gardens that surround the shops. Call the
Botanical Gardens at 829-1227 and the Schultze House at 229-9161
for more information and business hours. Happy Holidays and good