For my birthday in the spring, a friend sent me a cotton tea towel with a botanical theme. It is covered with sketches of beneficial insects, all labelled. I haven't used it yet. The towel remains on display in the family room.
When I phoned to thank my friend and rhapsodize over the towel, she laughed. "Only a gardener like you would be so utterly thrilled by a towel with bugs on it."
The towel is from Noble-Walters (noblewalters.com) in Vancouver. Others in their line of towels with a botanical theme are adorned with blue poppies, Shirley poppies, Canadian floral emblems, edible flowers, grape clusters and more.
You can shop online or use the store locator to find a retail outlet nearby. A useful and attractive gift for lovers of flowers, nature and gar-dening.
My friend Daphne, who is outdoors gardening all day every weekday, is ecstatic over her new Bogs boots and the constantly warm, comfortable, dry state of her feet since wear-ing them. The boots come in fun and happy patterns and are made in both high and low styles. For the winter gardener, this is a stylish, practical gift.
Garden centres and garners' gift stores are displaying a merry plethora of gifts now. There are gifts for bird and flower lovers as well as gardeners. On a recent foray through an out-let near me, upon entering the large, bright and airy space, I was immediately struck by two displays. One was a long table filled with mostly white orchids that looked like a bright and fluffy cloud floating through the garden centre.
A white orchid would look lovely flanked by deep red poinsettias.
The other display had a collection of Tillandsia plants, some hanging free on beaded lines and others perched inside hanging glass balls. Tillandsia is also called Air Plant, because the plants normally grow with-out soil while attached to other plants or rocks. They require only frequent misting or soaking in warm water every two weeks.
One clear trend in gardening these days is an ever-increasing interest in food gardening. Gifts that appeal to this interest abound. I'm thinking seeds for the gift recipient's favourite vegetables or seed collections.
Victoria's own The Gar-den Path nursery has collections of organically grown seeds for herbs, gourmet greens and heritage tomatoes. Renee's Garden, whose seeds are also on some local racks, has collections for a container kitchen garden, a container herb garden and a hummingbird garden, all in attractive packages.
Ontario's The Cottage Gardener offers in their online gift shop collections of heirloom seeds for com-panion planting, a container food garden, fragrant plants, heirloom tomatoes and more. There's even a collection of easy-growing edibles for first-time gar-deners.
For starting seeds indoors and also for grow-ing herbs and greens indoors year round, there are handy growing kits, some equipped with lights.
A fact of life: Guys love gadgets. They'll surely be happy campers in possession of a new tool sharpener, a soil block maker, soil thermometer, rain gauge, com-post aerator, moisture meter or a soil test kit.
For something light-hearted, look for items that are fun and interesting to accent a garden, such as solar lanterns that come in many shapes and colours.
Other types of garden art add life to a landscape as well - quirky garden gnomes, metal sculptures, beautiful bird baths.
Because I'm so fond of the living forms winding their way quietly through the gar-den, I was strongly attracted to a line of quail on a table at one garden centre I visited.
Then there are the tried and true veteran gardeners' classics - long-lasting, abuse-tolerant Felco pruners and perfectly bal-anced Haws watering cans.
From the whimsical to the purely practical, from low-budget bargains to the costly and elaborate, there is a perfect gift for every gardener on your Christmas list.
? Gardening for kids and 4-H.
Young people ages nine to 19 with an interest in learning about gardening are invited by the 4-H garden club in the South Malahat region (including Victoria, Saanich and Sidney) to join this organiza-tion. Involved parents will be warmly welcomed as well.
Members learn how to grow veg-etables and to cook and preserve their produce. They go on agricul-tural tours, practise public speak-ing and become involved with their community. Club activities begin in January and wind up around September. Interested families are invited to email Sheila at email@example.com.
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