University of Vermont Extension 
Department of Plant and Soil Science

Winter Holiday News Article


By Dr. Leonard Perry, Extension Professor
University of Vermont

With so much information thrown at us daily (most people get bombarded with around 200 ads a day), fast computers, and the speed of technology and life itself, it's no surprise that serenity currently is in vogue. While most gardeners find tranquility and peace in their gardens, you also can give a gift of "serenity" to your favorite gardener this holiday season.

For a start, there are many gifts relating to water gardening. Consider a gift certificate to a garden supplier of pre-formed pool liners or water plants, or a good reference book for a "new" water gardener. For the established water gardener, how about night lighting for the pool, a fountain, a statue, or books and gift certificates?

Old-fashioned or heirloom gardens are still popular, the reason again being, the search for a more "peaceful" and less technological time. Lots of references abound on this topic now, along with old-fashioned garden ornaments, such as gazing globes and iron benches.

Many people still want a lifestyle that's ecologically sound and in harmony with nature. For them, consider composting supplies, books or supplies for organic gardening, and gift certificates for suppliers of organically grown and native plants. Or choose accessories for bird and butterfly gardening, such as heated birdbaths for winter or hummingbird feeders for summer.

How about some new or different bird feeders? There are dozens available. Does the person you are shopping for have a feeder to hold whole, raw peanuts for the blue jays and finches, for example?

Other trends include night gardens (outdoor lighting and white and/or fragrant flowers as gifts); gardening with kids (stuff a stocking with seeds, kids' tools, kids' gloves); and vine gardens (how about reference books, trellises, or plants?).

Many gardeners also enjoy incorporating a bit of "whimsy" into the garden. Whimsy can be as silly as pink flamingos or as classic as serious statuary. Personally, I like to intersperse a piece of whimsy in each garden bed, not making it really obvious, but rather something the visitor just happens upon. This might be a metal garden fairy or other figure on a stake, a ceramic frog, or a spider made of metal rods.

Theme gardens also are currently popular, such as by color (blue or white flowers, for instance); by use (such as a pizza garden of pizza ingredients); by geography (a Mediterranean garden--lots of non-hardy plants here to bring indoors in winter); or even by literature. Children's books, such as The Secret Garden or adult ones such as Shakespeare's plays, may serve for themes. Use your imagination to come up with appropriate gift ideas.

When choosing trendy plants, pots, and other supplies, think pink (especially with orange). Terra cotta, butter yellows, blues, and greens (like earth and sky) also are popular, again as part of the "serenity" search.

Or focus your gift ideas on the metallic hues such as gold, silver, and bronze, both in plants and garden accessories. This past year I saw a garden done just in silver accessories and foliages, like Artemisias, eucalyptus, (not hardy for Vermont, so treat as an annual), silver Plectranthus, and many others.

So, when the mail order catalogs arrive this year, and you're overwhelmed by the offerings, focus on these trends to narrow your choices. Hopefully, these ideas will help you shop for that gardener, or if a gardener yourself, give you some ideas to share with others (hint, hint!).

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