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Tips for the Compleat Gardener: Gifts for the gardener


Sitting in my sunroom with the sun actually shining I look around at all the houseplants that need me to bring water regularly and a gift idea springs to mind.

It isn’t easily achieved in my house where the water source is across the house but if a bathroom is near the plants you can get an attachment for the faucet and a collapsible hose to stretch to the plants. When empty of water these hoses are very small, fit under the sink.

The benefits of having living plants in your home outweigh any effort it takes to feed and water. They exhale oxygen all around me as I sit here while I bask in their calming green energy. They add moisture to the air, especially if I remember to add the water they need.

Here and there is a cyclamen resurrected from its dormancy in summer to bloom again for my delight. Local garden centers usually have cyclamens for sale at this time of year and they usually bloom all winter.

This Greek name is technically pronounced SIK-lam-en but I can’t claim correctness from my mouth except when fooling around. Some cyclamens are really sweetly scented so use your nose when choosing one.

I love Christmas Cactus though while summering outside the deer feasted on mine. They are really easy to grow but the key to blooming is they have to be in a room that is dark after the sun sets in order to set the blooms. They also prefer a cooler space and water occasionally.

In nature Christmas Cacti are epiphytes like orchids, living in the canopies of the rain forest with minimal root systems along with bromeliads. These are fairly easy plants for people without a lot of time to fuss.

I came upon a great new local nursery on Route 29 in Titusville, New Jersey called Nectars where they are selling many kinds of decorative greens and Christmas trees and have a really nice shop where they sell many locally made items, jewelry, handmade bags, soaps with essential oils, tiny bromeliads to hang, skin care products and some really great tools.

For a gardener a quality tool is the best present ever. Nectars presents a well chosen selection of hand tools at reasonable prices. It has my personal favorite pruner from Ars and some beautifully made hatchets and hand tools. Check it out.

A really thoughtful gift for those with enough stuff is a gift of your time to repot houseplants or clean up the yard at winter’s end. There are a fair number of elders living in their own homes in the Delaware Valley who would love a commitment to shovel walks or help with groceries – gifts from the heart.

If you cannot do the shoveling yourself consider making arrangements to have it done. Give a teenager a snow shovel for Christmas with which he/she can earn some money while getting exercise.

Give a birdfeeder and a supply of seed in a metal can and a scoop that you can refill as needed. Add an identification book for the new bird watcher. Check Bowman’s Hill Wildflower Preserve’s bookstore for that and all kinds of other wonderful books.

Consider gifting your gardener with a ticket to BHWP’s Land Ethics Symposium on Thursday, March 14, where one can mingle with people knowledgeable in the field and learn some things from the lecturers. I have been attending since the beginning and am pleased to see how it has grown and that local municipalities are present learning ecologically sound methods of land use.

Enjoy the changes. Build a cairn