A GROWING CONCERN: Botanical stocking stuffers that are sure to please

THIS WEEK, WE all gather here across the county for Thanksgiving.

And here in America, especially on the Olympic Peninsula, we have plenty for which to be thankful.

But alas, starting Friday is the super-mega blowout extravaganza holiday-spending spree weekend, that absolute “Holy Grail” shopping time of the year.

This includes gardeners.

Because gardening is so popular and we thankfully have such a wide range of nifty items and span of prices in which to spend, I’ll rate my top holiday gifts of botanical booty sure to delight any gardener extraordinaire.

I personally abhor the Christmas push before Thanksgiving, but since a lot of you are ready to shop (or have started already), here are my 12 best Christmas-gift buys for fanatical gardeners on your shopping list:

Stocking stuffers: $10 to $60

1. Atlas rubber-dipped gloves from $4 to $11. These gardening gloves breathe, so they don’t stink and are incredibly flexible and agile so you can still button shirts, plant tiny seedlings or handle heavy tools and equipment.

You can even find bright-orange, heavy-lined pairs that can easily be found when dropped or misplaced.

2. Tarps. I just adore tarps because they transport leaves, cover the wood pile, protect the back of the sport utility vehicle, wrap up the mess and cover the driveway and sidewalk, protecting them from the weed and ground-in soil cleanup.

Tarps also work well on the shop floor as I oil tools or make shavings.

Get several sizes from small to large, look for heavy-duty labels and don’t forget the green and brown blend-in colors.

3. New 5-gallon buckets. Buckets are my extra pair of hands, giving aid to most chores.

It takes weeds and litter in manageable quantities while transporting mulch or soil to extremely hard-to-reach places in weight ratios one can handle.

Be it mixing fertilizers, transporting lime or holding hand tools, you can never have too many buckets.

Also, buy that super-cool sleeve that is made to go around the bucket, with all the pockets for a hand tool arrangement.

4. Dramm water breaker and wand, $15 to $30.

This is yet another item I’ve been using for years.

Dramm is the No. 1 watering tool in my trade because of its perfect rate of flow and softness of water velocity.

When the aluminum (plastic ones break in one season) head is added to an 18- or 24-inch handle, called a watering wand, equipped with a nice brass shutoff valve at the grasp, then you have a top-of-the line watering device still usable 10 years down the garden path.

5. The perfect winter flower, amaryllis ($6 to $30). Amaryllis is the most stunning, gorgeous, head-turning flower.

It is guaranteed to grow for anyone indoors and is now available everywhere. Remember, here, size really does matter.

By far, the bigger an amaryllis bulb, the better the flower display.

This bulb is a perfect stocking stuffer for even the blackest of green thumbs.

Under the tree

6. Orchard saw, $50 to $70. I cannot sing enough praises about the orchard saw, the poor man’s (insert real smart man’s) chain saw.

These curved saws are designed to be up in the trees, quickly cutting off branches in the hardest-to-reach areas. Stihl has pruning saws that fold or fit into a sheath.

Buy two, including the smaller retractable blade variety that can fit in a pocket.

7. Live Christmas tree, $75 to $200. Why not go to your favorite nursery and pick out some superb specimens known for growth characteristic or color?

These trees can be expensive, so wrap it as a gift card and have it outdoors and ready to plant. The Christmas tree will become the best plant in your yard for years to come.

Excellent varieties would be evergreens such as Cryptomeria japonica “Elegans” (beautiful red with leathery foliage), Chamaecyparis lawsoniana “Thai Temple” (outstanding pendulous yellow), Pinus strobus glauca pendula (weeping white pine) or some favorites such as the gorgeous blue Cedrus atlantica glauca pendula.

Big items

8. A good garden cart, $200 to $250. Choose one with air-inflated tires and heavy-duty racking.

Few devices are as handy to me as my sturdy garden cart. Get one that can handle at least 250 pounds so firewood, bags of soil, rocks and concrete are all easily mixed and moved about the yard.

I love to fill them with six to eight buckets of mulch, compost, soil and fertilizer, a virtual rolling soil machine.

9. Orchard ladder, $250-350. Now here is a real treat for the would-be pruner.

What good is that nice new Felco pruner and orchard saw when all you have to stand on is a 5-gallon pail?

Orchard ladders are very strong, three-legged ladders designed for uneven ground that use a third leg for closeness into tree limbs.

10. Mixology, $300 to $350. Small, compact tillers are true gardening marvels when it comes to a compact, highly efficient garden tiller such as Mantis.

They are small, lightweight, easy to use and easy to maneuver.

They till around garden obstacles with ease.

These compact tillers are a must-have for any true-blooded gardener.

11. Road trip. To fully appreciate the wide range of dynamite trees such as those listed above, go with your honey or family on a weekend extravaganza to Victoria and Butchart Gardens, or view the drop-dead-gorgeous light show at the Bellevue Botanical Gardens near Seattle or Point Defiance Zoo lights near Tacoma.

These places will truly inspire you in the art of light sculptures and your yard. This gift is one of inspiration.

12. Dump truck load, $200 to $400. Everyone in my classes says they would revere a gift as useful as a dump truck load full of “whatever.”

The whatever is your ability to match product with recipient.

Maybe it’s rock for the long-deserved rock garden, or decorative gravel for a pathway, or bark.

Who among us wouldn’t relish a 10-yard dump of premium topsoil or fabulous compost or mulch?

13. Bonus baker’s dozen gift.

If the ultimate garden party is your desire, then a seat on the 18th annual Garden Bus to the Seattle Northwest Flower & Garden Show is an absolute must.

This day-long, all-expenses-paid, eating, drinking and gardening bus is just the ticket, and tickets are only $115 per person, or $220 for two.

Join me for a rolling garden class, party and first-rate pampering Wednesday, Feb. 7. This luxury bus always sells out fast, so call me at 360-417-1639 for details, getting the best garden coupon around.

Hope your Thanksgiving dinner leaves you hungry for botanical shopping.

________

Andrew May is an ornamental horticulturist who dreams of having Clallam and Jefferson counties nationally recognized as “Flower Peninsula USA.” Send him questions c/o Peninsula Daily News, P.O. Box 1330, Port Angeles, WA 98362, or email news@peninsuladailynews.com (subject line: Andrew May).

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