For The Answer
Over the last several weekends, listeners to Gardening South Texas on KLUP radio have been providing Dr. Parsons, Milton, and me with recommendations for Holiday gifts for gardeners. If you have a gardener on your list, these ideas might be useful. More likely, you are a gardener. Dont be subtle; leave this article where your present suppliers will see it. You may want to go so far as to mark your favorite ideas with a see-through markerpink is really noticeable!
Gift certificates seem to be the favorite gift. Buy one at the gardeners favorite nursery or horticultural supplier so they can get a plant that fits their landscape plan, mulch or compost to be delivered, or a drip irrigation system laid out to the gardeners specifications.
Gardening books are always great gifts. If your gardener does not have Neil Sperrys Gardening in Texas, it is the basic text. Bill Welchs Perennial Garden Color is also a classic.
For the bird lover, Attracting Birds to Southern Gardens by Pope, Odenwald and Fryling is special. Other books to consider are Texas Trees: A Friendly Guide by Cox and Leslie; Native Plants by Wasowski; Roses in Southern Gardens by Shoup; Butterfly Gardening for the South by Ajilvsgi; Wildflowers of the Texas Hill Country by Enquist; and Garden Bulbs of the South by Ogden.
If your gardener relies on raised beds, consider purchasing him/her a small tiller such as the Mantas or other brand. Look for a tiller light enough to carry with one arm because it has to be moved from bed to bed. The blade area is short enough to cultivate in between rows or drip irrigation lines.
Another mechanical gift that will really make a hit is a shredder. The machine turns prunings and leaves into small pieces ideal for composting or mulch.
Rain barrels are useful to collect rainwater for container plants. Some nurseries are now offering a plastic system that lays flat against the house. The one I saw at Milbergers collects 90 gallons. It includes a spigot and can be hooked up in series to increase its capacity. The mosquito problem is addressed by its one-piece construction and by a filter where the water is collected. They are neat and self-contained.
A tiller for raised beds, a shredder, and even the new water collection systems can easily cost $300. There are also some excellent stocking stuffer gifts that do not require a large budget. XERISCAPE a How-to Guide to Converting a Traditional Landscape Using a Xeriscape Approach is a booklet available at most area nurseries. It has a great plant list and is a bargain at $5.
Knee pads are always useful. I like the rectangular foam pads that you move from place to place. The pads cost less than $5. Gardening gloves are also a great small gift. Some gardeners prefer the kidskin gloves and others like the rubberized gloves with cotton backs. Gloves save wear and tear on the hands and prevent insect bitesfire ants are everywhere now.
Do you want to get your gardener out of the house more? How about a membership to the San Antonio Botanical Society? The single member rate of $30/year gives you and a guest unlimited entry to the Botanical Garden. A $40 family membership covers everyone in the family plus a guest. The Garden includes 33 acres of wonderful plantings and many educational offerings throughout the year.