Planting Dreams

Gifts to satisfy all of a gardener's winter wishes

December 10, 2006|By Susan Reimer | Susan Reimer,Sun Reporter

The gardens may be cold and lifeless, but you will warm the heart of the gardeners on your gift list this holiday season by remembering what they love to do most.

In fact, though their hobby is in its dormancy, gardeners may be the easiest people to buy for -- the range of ideas is as great as all outdoors.

Gift ideas might include something practical -- gloves, pruners or garden clogs -- or something spiritual -- garden journals or plaques that carry inspirational words.

Americans will spend $450 billion on their gardens this year, a 5 percent increase, according to experts. And increasingly, they are buying gifts for their gardening friends.

Some of that money is going to the birds -- heated birdbaths, bird nests and feeders -- or into the wind: Weather products, such as outdoor thermometers or liquid barometers, are good gifts for gardeners, too.

"We've had a Christmas shop for years," said Carrie Engel, plant department manager at Valley View Farms in Cockeysville. "But it is huge now.

"The outdoor living trend means that more people are outside and they want to make it look good."

Engel said the sales of yard art are climbing. And gardeners are looking for ways to decorate their window boxes, even in winter.

"Gardeners have extended the gardening season, and they have brought it indoors with forced bulbs, orchids and bonsai," said Engel. Her own Christmas list includes landscape design software for her computer.

Sandi Hillerman, owner of Hillerman Nursery and Florist in Washington, Mo., and president of the Garden Centers of America, said the days when garden centers would go dark from Thanksgiving to March are over.

She has seen Christmas business at her family's garden center jump 20 percent over the last three to five years.

"Lots of gift cards for the spring," she said. "But we have also seen a lot of indoor plants and porch pots and year-round container planting material.

"It is a way people have of keeping their curb appeal going all year long," said Hillerman.

Homestead Gardens in Davidsonville, which offers a number of weekend classes during the winter, has responded to customer requests to provide gift certificates to these classes.

"Winter is the perfect time to learn more about what you like to do," said Don Riddle, Homestead's owner. "And it is a good stocking-stuffer.

Some holiday gifts for gardeners are best enjoyed indoors. Books range from the whimsical -- William Alexander's The $64 Tomato -- to the indispensable, Tracey DiSabato-Aust's newly revised The Well-Tended Perennial Garden.

There are gifts for gardeners for every room in the house: an attractive crock for kitchen scraps for the compost pile from Gardener's Supply Co., or pumice soap and healing hand cream from Crabtree & Evelyn.

If imagination fails you, you can always wrap up a shovel and tie a bow around the handle. But at least make it an English poacher's spade -- perfect for moving perennials.

Here are more of our suggestions: Some will have to wait until spring to be put to use. But others, like the ornament from Smith and Hawken and the hydroponic garden from Gardeners' Supply Co., will start giving pleasure right away.

susan.reimer@baltsun.com

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