A GROWING CONCERN: Black Friday, warm heart

IT LOOKS LIKE our nasty weather has finally arrived, right on the tails of a beautiful, record-breaking Monday, warm and mild shirt-sleeve weather, on Veterans Day.

So close upon the heels of Armistice Day and with flags still flying, we are approaching Thanksgiving — my favorite holiday.

We as gardeners should be thankful that we live on the North Olympic Peninsula where it is never too hot and never too cold. Our weather is perfectly mild and plants thrive in our temperate conditions.

Next weekend, holiday revelers celebrate by shopping the Black Friday deals on the day following Thanksgiving, so in the spirit of giving, with our very special gardening friends in mind, let’s turn our attention to holiday gifts.

• Pruners — My number one go-to tool, that come in a variety of sizes, including left-handed versions.

They are sturdy, dependable, an extremely high-quality pruning tool that every good friend or relative should have two of. Yes, two.

One stays with the garden tools and the other rides in the car tool box, for those have-to-cut branches, stolen cuttings, errant snippings along the sidewalk eye-poking branch or the here-let-me-do-that instantaneous cut for your neighbor.

• Knee pads — Dirt, grit, grime and soil take a toll on pants and wear down our tolerance to hours on the ground.

I’m particularly fond of the cup-shaped type designed for tile setters, having two adjustable rubber straps, made out of non-skid PVC, foam padding and rubber buttons.

• Five-gallon buckets — Buckets become my second set of hands, managing mulch, fertilizers, hand tools and carrying seed packets with stake markers back to the garden plot.

If you feel generous, you can fill the bucket with new gardening gloves, a crevice tool (looks like a cross between a horse hoof pick and a miniature golf putter) or a gift certificate to their favorite gardening store.

• Snuggle up — Gardening in the damp winters can be harder on our skin, so a flannel-lined pair of work pants; plush hickory shirt; wool watch cap; or washable toe-reinforced, wool blend, mid-calf high pair of socks (taller than your boots).

Socks need to be warm, stay pulled up, and kept near the boots for the quick slip on and out the door yard dashes.

• Low voltage lights — Landscape lights, accent lighting and solar-powered, night-sky-friendly walkway lights make the perfect gift for showing off the pruned evergreen or identifying steps along the pathway.

Be aware of light casting off your property, so as not to cause the neighbors to close their blinds and purse their lips, thanking you for your thoughtfulness when they’re outdoors envying the star-filled skies.

• Happy feet — Super warm, insulated, waterproof garden boots are a delight. If you don’t know their size, price them and provide them a gift certificate in that amount.

I like the Bog brands and often combine them with Super Feet insoles.

Bogs come in the ankle high for plain rainy days,or out-in-the mud mid-high boot.

• Orchard saw I cannot sing enough praises about the orchard saw.

It’s the poor man’s (real smart man’s) chain saw.

These curved saws are designed to be up with you in the tree and cutting branches in hard-to-reach places.

Get one that folds up into the pocket, too.

• Leaf blower — I have a love affair with my backpack gas leaf blower (don’t tell the wife).

They come with anti-vibration harnesses and are a dream to start.

Power, talk about power — be still my heart.

I can blow those wet leaves that stick like glue to the concrete into a pile or away from the front door, sending those fir needles a-flying with the locking thumb mechanism that takes the strain off my hand until I run out of mixed fuel.

I instantly become the neighbor’s favorite when I keep the driveways clean of leaves and twigs, and the family is happy when shoes aren’t tracking needle debris back into the house.

• Coupon book — No, this is not the Soroptomist fundraiser although that’s not a bad idea, but a handmade booklet with garden chores inside.

Each page stapled in a packet would have “Go outside and leave me alone” coupons, “Dig a hole” coupons, “Move the mulch,” or “Weed whack the edges” redeemable coupons inside.

Find what your family member struggles with, such as chopping and stacking wood if they’re elderly and be creative with your time and energy.

This is great for children to give to a parent, especially if there’s one hidden inside that says “Go clean your room — no complaining.”

Be a hero, make a coupon book.

The holidays don’t always have to be about money spent, but time helping one another in the spirit of love and appreciation.

It’s about taking a burden off someone’s plate and being available to offer a hand to a neighbor.

Be thoughtful of those less fortunate and be mindful that people you run into might just be having a hard time during the holidays, needing a little kindness and forgiveness along the way.

Now, where’s the leftover stuffing and gravy?

________

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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