Gardening Essentials

    • Living Christmas trees are now available. The slower growing spruces can be used for several Christmases before you need to plant them.
    • Dogwood trees, flowering magnolias (or tulip trees), and Japanese maples are some of the balled and burlapped items you will find available now.
    • Wind chimes make wonderful gifts that fill the air with music whenever the wind blows.
    • Fruit trees can be planted now from containers while the soil is easy to dig.
    • Dress up your interior landscape with some new houseplants for the holidays ahead.

Gardening Essentials

At heart, garden people are plant people. But dedicated gardeners also know the pleasure of quality garden tools. Cheap tools bend and break and can be the source of much frustration. A good garden tool is something to treasure.

The spade, the shovel and the spading fork are three primary tools with overlapping functions. The spade is essential for “double-digging”, for loosening the soil and for incorporating organic materials. The spading fork is easiest to use in light loamy or sandy soils, or in heavy soil that has been well-worked. The pointed-blade shovel can do both jobs and is generally the first choice of the beginning gardener. It serves the additional purpose of moving gravel and sand.

Hand tools are essential for all gardeners. Choose the best aluminum or steel-bladed trowel available. Flimsy, low-priced tools won’t last one single use in tough soil – they just bend out of shape. A hand trowel, a 3-pronged cultivator and a weeder make a nice “tool trio”. The Japanese Hori-Hori weeder knife is especially strong and versatile.

Another fine gift is a good pair of hand shears. Beginning gardeners usually choose the anvil type, in which the blade comes down on a soft steel “anvil.” This type will cut larger branches without springing the blade. The more experienced gardeners like the scissor or “bypass” shear which makes a clean cut every time. New shears have handles curved to fit your hand, which are more comfortable than the old designs and leave you with fewer blisters. Top quality Felco shears are made with replaceable blades and are built to last a lifetime.

Bonsai enthusiasts will enjoy a ceramic pot or specialty tool, or a new book with instructions and ideas for interesting forms to work with. There are books at the nursery on a dozen subjects from garden pools, landscaping and pruning to the newest “Western Garden Book” and “How to Grow More Vegetables.”

Bird feeders provide hours of entertainment for older folks and housebound people. Not only will they have the joy of watching wild birds, but you will be helping them with baby bird care and raising their young through the fledging stage. Hummingbird feeders attract those colorful birds to your patio year-round.

Bulbs can still be planted for spring flowers. Daffodils, tulips, hyacinths and crocus bring cheerful color to the garden after a long, cold winter. Holiday Amaryllis in gift boxes make nice gifts at a reasonable price.

Add a gardening calendar and you and your gardening friends can look forward to another great year of gardening pleasures. The “2010 Garden Calendar” from Ecology Action has a handy “things to do” list for each month. The “Gardening by the Moon” Calendar gives detailed timing for appropriate gardening activities, and the “Old Farmer’s Almanac” is a helpful and fun book to have on hand.

We wish you all a very happy holiday season, and hope we can help you be successful gardeners in the year ahead!

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