By Dr. Leonard Perry, Extension Professor
University of Vermont
Not sure what to get your favorite gardening friends or neighbors this year? Here are 2000 holiday gift ideas.
No, I don't mean 2,000 actual ideas, but garden gift ideas for the year 2000 holidays! At a recent meeting, I heard a talk by an editor for the Garden.com Website, Julie Martens, on home and garden trends. Here are a few of her ideas for trendy garden and related gifts, which may help you with your gift list. Or, they may just jump-start your planning for next year's garden during these upcoming winter months.
Most of these gift ideas relate to current lifestyle trends. Many people have too much to do, between job and family, so anything that can help with this "time crunch" makes a welcome gift. These are gifts that make life easier, such as slow release fertilizers, drip irrigation, automatic timers for outdoor landscape lighting, automatic watering timers, and containers, to name a few.
Containers? By planting in containers your busy gardener friends can have smaller, more manageable gardens (and a lot less weeding!). Container plantings allow for easier replanting when either they're tired of the plants or the plants begin looking tired, and make a garden that can be easily rearranged--just like furniture! Don't like how or where the containers are grouped? Then just move them!
When selecting containers, consider clay pots (They've become popular again.). For large containers, choose the new faux clay or terra cotta pots made of plastic. They look quite real and are popular because of their light weight.
There are many other types of containers to choose from, especially at antique shops and craft shows, including old milk urns, sap buckets, woven twig baskets, and even old boots. They all make interesting gifts. Let your imagination run wild!
Most people just think of annual flowers for containers, but consider mixing it up. This is trendy now, too--annuals and perennials planted with grasses and foliage plants. A nice combination might be a grass, such as foxtail grass (Pennisetum, not hardy outdoors in the north even though a perennial), combined with annuals around it (perhaps geraniums and the more unusual bacopa), and a couple cultivars of English ivy trailing down the side.
Or, you might plant a container just of foliage plants. Keep it indoors this winter, then put out into the shade garden in summer. Candidates for this do-it-yourself gift to plant and give include coleus, all types of fibrous begonias (not the tuberous types that go dormant), silver or variegated foliage of Plectranthus, and the purple and silver Persian shield (Stobilanthes). Using new cultivars and/or tropical plants also are among the new trends for the millennium.