A GROWING CONCERN: ‘Lucky 13’ list of picture-perfect gifts

AS NOT ONLY an ornamental horticulturalist but as one who tries to stay in vogue, who could I be if I did not give my readership a Peninsula-appropriate, time-for-Black-Thursday “Lucky 13” list of Christmas gifti deas?

Here we go …

1. Tarps. Yes, that’s right, tarps. I just adore tarps because they transport leaves, cover the wood pile, protect the back of the sport utility vehicle, as well as wrap up the mess and cover the driveway and sidewalk, protecting it from the weed and soil mess.

It also works well on the shop floor as I oil my tools.

Get several sizes from small to large, and don’t forget the green- or brown-colored ones. (Contractor-sized and thick garbage bags make a good second choice.)

2. Dramm water breaker. These waterheads are full flow (fast-watering) and soft flow (gentle to plants) at the same time. One head for seedlings, transplants, trees, cuttings or pots.

Absolutely get the aluminum head (handle 16 to 24 inches is ideal). Aluminum heads run $9 to $14, wand $10 to $20.

3. Nice, 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 you can handle.

Speaking of handle, I often will wrap several thicknesses of electrical tape around the plastic sleeve of the metal handle, adding a nicer padded grip while extending the life of the plastic tube.

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

Also buy that super-cool sleeve insert that is made to go around the bucket, with all the pockets to hold the hand tools, washers and plant markers. (I also like the hide-a-key for the outdoors that looks like a fake rock; they also come in dog-poop shapes and sprinkler head replicas.)

Under the tree, all this runs $75 to $250.

4. Orchard ladder. 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, durable, three-legged structures designed for uneven ground that has many branches in the way. A “must” for any serious pruner.

5. The perfect lawn. Lime is the miracle drug of your turf. A fall fertilizer is critical for a proper law-maintenance program, and nothing is better than overseeding your lawn every fall and then again in early spring.

What a perfect combination gift — and great fun to wrap as well.

Purchase a bag of lime, some great grass seed and organic fertilizer. A perfect trio to achieve a perfect lawn (only to be bested by an I-owe-you note to help apply the mixtures on that chosen workday.)

6. A “real” live Christmas tree. Why not go to your favorite nursery and pick out some superb specimen known for its growth characteristic or color?

These trees are expensive, so send it as a gift. The Christmas tree (yes, it could be a Japanese maple) will become the best plant in your loved one’s yard for years to come (you could even name it).

Excellent varieties would be evergreens such as Cryptomeria japonica “Elegans” (beautiful red), 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.

7. 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’s Butchard Gardens or view the drop-dead-gorgeous light show at the Bellevue Botanical Garden near Seattle.

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

8. A good garden cart or wagon. One with nice air-inflated tires and heavy-duty side racks.

Few garden devices are as handy to me around the house as my sturdy garden cart. Get one that can handle at least 250 pounds of firewood, bags of soil, rock and cement sacks.

I love to fill them with 6 to 8 gallon buckets of mulch, compost, soil and fertilizer, a virtual rolling cart for the candy-hungry yard.

9. Labor. This is a unique gift that can delight the overburdened gardener. Buying time from a landscaper, arborist or lawn care professional can be just what the Plant Doctor ordered.

Book a local plant contractor for a particular job or for a specified amount of time. This is an ideal gift for the elderly or for the person whose yard has gotten away from them and just needs a little help.

Big-ticket items $300 and more.

10. We all need a little structure in our lives. Your property value is greatly increased with the addition of a beautiful gazebo, wonderful trellis, beautiful gate and arbor, even a greenhouse or garden bench.

Garden structures give purpose to an area as well as a different texture and complementary look.

Be it a welded gate, fancy fence or porch swing, give some structure to the yard and your best gardening pal.

11. Load of rocks. Rocks are great (as much as mulch or soil).

Rocks don’t die, get sick, need to be watered, pruned or sprayed and never rot away.

Rocks add real value to the home and are most aesthetically pleasing.

We have many fine quarries here on the North Olympic Peninsula, from black rock and Shine or Penny Creek Quarry to nice blue rocks from D Holcomb &Co.

Anderson and Airport quarries have various sized gravels for making dry creeks or rock screes, and Blake Sand and Gravel has boulders for all occasions, as does The Quarry.

12. Four-wheel-drive. If you have got a big yard, then motorized garden vehicles are for you.

These machines are made by companies such as John Deere and Kawasaki, and are miniature dump trucks, too.

Perfect for getting the ladder, rocks, soil and sod from place to place, these machines are today’s modern team of oxen for the family who has real work to do out on the property (or needs to get to the other end of the field to mend the fence again).

Something extra special.

13. The PDN Garden Bus. Every year in February (Feb. 22-26), fellow PDN columnist Pat Neal and I host an all-inclusive, first-class luxury trip to the Northwest Flower &Garden Show in Seattle. We book it for opening day.

This is the nation’s second largest flower show, and the trip will be jam-filled with food, drink, information, prizes, lectures and laughs.

The bus is limited to 43 people and it sells out fast. So if you would like to treat someone special to a day of horticulture wonder ($115 per person, $220 for a couple), call me at 360-417-1639 to reserve a seat via a gift certificate.

Now go out and shop till you drop, rewarding all those who toil in the yard with some great garden-selected goodies from my Top 13 list.

________

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 [email protected]peninsula dailynews.com (subject line: Andrew May).

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