Gifts for Gardeners…

by Cindy Gilberg

What time of year is upon us again and once more we contemplate the annual question of what to give those on our gift-giving list. If there is a gardener on your list—remember that gardeners are the easiest to shop for. We thrive on visions of our gardens next year. Images of next year’s garden are already forming in our minds—there are always new plants to fit in, new ideas to incorporate or new gardens. Curling up with a good gardening book, magazine or plant catalog is the ideal way to spend a wintry day.

When in doubt as to what specifically might be on your gardening friend’s wish list, remember that almost every garden center and plant nursery offers gift certificates—find out which one is their favorite! In addition to plants, these can be used to purchase books, soil amendments, garden tools, seeds and even wind chimes! For a complete list of garden centers and mail order nurseries that sell native plants in Missouri, go to GrowNative’s website (www.grownative.org).  If you are looking for a gift other than plants, think about giving a membership to a native plant organization. Shaw Nature Reserve (www.shawnature.org) offers memberships as gifts as well as gift certificates for their excellent offering of books in their Visitor’s Center. For as little as $15/class, Shaw Nature Reserve’s Native Plant School offers classes all year long on specific landscaping topics. A membership to Wild Ones (www.for-wild.org), an organization that focuses on native landscaping and ecology, is a perfect gift especially for gardeners new to native plants in the landscape. The list is endless when it comes to gift certificates.

A wonderful book and one of my favorite resources is Native Landscaping for Wildlife and People by Dave Tylka. Wildlife habitat can be enhanced by including native plants that satisfy the needs of wildlife and this book delves into looking at the potential for the whole landscape to be a biologically diverse habitat. An excellent compliment to this would be Tried and True Missouri Native Plants for Your Yard from the Missouri Department of Conservation.  Another book on habitat gardening is Bringing Nature Home by Doug Tallamy. Tallamy will be the keynote speaker March 3, 2012 at the Garden Blitz at Missouri Botanical Garden—why not give a gift ticket to the program?

Is there a birdwatcher on your list? Start with Birdscaping in the Midwest – A Guide to Gardening with Native Plants to Attract Birds by Mariette Nowak which gives the most in-depth look at landscaping for birds that I have read to date. Throughout the book are detailed plant lists and discussions of restoring habitat conducive to birds. Other books to consider are various field guides such as The Sibley Guide to Birds by David Allen Sibley, Ozark Wildflowers by Don Kurz, Prairie Wildflowers by Doug Ladd, and any of the guides on butterflies and caterpillars, dragonflies or reptiles. With books in hand, a gardener can approach their garden as an oasis in which to observe, study and appreciate all aspects of nature.

A gift for a gardener is a gift that keeps on giving and it is said that in giving, we receive. Next year, I look forward to seeing my gardening friends enjoy their gardens and to sharing time with them there – what could be better?

Have a warm and wonderful holiday season and may next year’s garden be the best ever.

Cindy Gilberg is a Missouri native and horticulturist whose work includes design and consulting, teaching and writing. Much of her work focuses on native plants, habitat gardens and rain gardens. Cindy’s projects include work at Shaw Nature Reserve and its Native Plant School, the Shaw Professional Landscape Series and the Deer Creek Watershed Alliance. Cindy can be contacted at 314-630-1004; cindy.gilberg@gmail.com.