In the Garden:
Pacific Northwest
November, 2011
Regional Report

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Here are a few of my favorite gardening things.

Gifts for your Favorite Gardener

When I first began gardening, I worked my small plot of soil with a spoon and a fork borrowed from the kitchen. They worked well for planting annuals, but I knew I needed some real hand tools if I was going to get serious about gardening. To my delight, my observant sister-in-law gifted me with an English garden trug filled with important tools of the trade; a pair of cotton garden gloves, a hand shovel, metal plant stakes, and an assortment of seed packets. It was one of my most memorable Christmas gifts. Not only did it provide me with the necessary tools, it encouraged me to follow my heart and explore the world of gardening. How thoughtful was that?

Most gardeners have a wish-list, and if you ask your favorite gardener, you'll come up with a few ideas for holiday gift giving. But if you prefer the element of surprise, here are a few items you might consider giving:

A good-quality thermometer or rain gauge
Gardeners are obsessed with the weather, and if you choose a thermometer that records minimum and maximum temperatures, they'll think of you each time they reset the temperature recordings. A rain gauge will help them decide when the garden needs watering.

A fancy stainless steel or ceramic compost pail
Kitchen scrap pails usually sit under the sink waiting for a deposit, but they're often made of plastic, which eventually absorbs odors. There's nothing worse than a smelly compost pail!

A high-quality garden tool
You really can't go wrong with a sturdy pair of pruners, garden spade, metal watering can, loppers, or even a well-crafted pair of gloves. Except for the gardening gloves, just about one-size-fits-all.

A truckload of compost or aged manure
Seriously! Nothing compares to an almost endless supply of this nutrient-rich soil amendment. It's considered black gold among the horticulture set. You might want to warn the gardener ahead of its scheduled arrival. Offering to help spread the bounty will earn you brownie points.

Tickets to a garden show or garden tour
Many local garden clubs sponsor tours during the spring and summer months, and most large cities such as Seattle and Portland host gardening conferences open to the public. You can find a list of garden tours and conferences at your local Master Gardener Clinic or Cooperative Extension office.

Garden reference books
There are dozens of gardening magazines and websites, but most of the information in them is superficial. A true gardener wants well-researched reference books. Some to consider include Armitage's Garden Perennials: A Color Encyclopedia, Michael Dirr's Manual of Woody Landscape Plants, Sunset Western Garden Book, and the American Horticultural Society A-Z Encyclopedia of Garden Plants are all great additions to any gardener's library.

With any luck at all, reciprocation will be in order. The gardener you gifted may surprise you with a box full of the bounty from their vegetable garden or a bouquet from their flower garden. I hope so!


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