NORTHERN COLORADO – Finding a gift for someone who doesn’t mind purchasing bags of poo might seem like a simple task. After all, most gardeners are easy to please as long as you wrap the gift in compostable paper and bundle it with twine long enough to be useful in trellising recalcitrant plants. But if your conscience urges you to find a gem to bestow on your dirt-encrusted loved one, we’re here to help with a few ideas they’ll treasure:
A hot trend in urban gardening will turn their home into green thumb fashion chic by letting them grow vertical. Living walls are all the rage, so treat your gardener to something special. Several types are available, but the basic premise is a wall-mounted group of growing cells that hold planting media and roots securely in place. The result is a hip, natural wall of living plants that soften any space, indoors or out. Climbing vines, succulents, smaller edibles like lettuce or thymes do well in vertical planters, as long as the plants have a shallow root system that fits into the small cells.
Vertical systems run from the least expensive, four-pocket planter ($59), a moderately priced Florafelt 12-pocket Garden Wall at $119, or an all-in-one eight-pocket planter with automatic waterer for $159 (plantsonwalls.com/). The flexible planter pouches are made from recycled plastic bottles, so the wall is as green as the plants it holds. Before you invest in such a loving gift to your gardener, snoop around their place a bit to ensure that they have a location that can host a living wall. Hand loomed carpets or antique flooring might not be a suitable spot for a contraption that relies on water and dirt.
Anchor their library with books from a local author and a renowned local plantsman: Jane Shellenberger and Dan Johnson. Shellenberger, the publisher and editor of Colorado Gardener newsmagazine, recently published Organic Gardener’s Companion: Growing Vegetables in the West (Fulcrum Publishing, 2012), which draws on a lifetime of gardening and 15 years of pouring her passion into the popular gardening publication. Her regionally specific book is a must-have in every library.
Native plant enthusiasts will be delirious over Johnson’s updating of the book Meet the Natives: A Field Guide To Rocky Mountain Wildflowers, Trees, and Shrubs ($24.95, Johnson Books, 2012). First published in 1942 by author M. Walter Pesman, this revised edition helps gardeners identify over 400 native plants in our region and boast full color photographs. Meet the Natives: A Field Guide To Rocky Mountain Wildflowers, Trees,
and Shrubs ($24.95, Johnson Books, 2012)
If your gardener is passionate about seed saving, or wants to learn how to preserve our garden heritage, gift them with a seed saver kit ($24.99, Seeds of Change, seedsofchange.com).This adorable starter’s kit includes 10 airtight, glass-topped tins, seed envelopes with labels, collection and storage bags, plus other goodies for marking, drying or storing seeds. The handy reference guide for gathering, cleaning, and storing seeds will guide your gardener in their first forays into the world of seed collecting.
If something shiny and pretty is what you want to give, think cattails. Though the natural ones are lovely, those made of copper are positively enchanting as a piece of garden art that sways in the breeze. Native American artist Jan Lynn ($39, Artist By Nature, cattailwindchimes.com/) hand crafts each set of cattails as unique garden additions. Softly chiming when they nudge each other in the wind, the chimes fit into landscapes or on patios.
Carol O’Meara is with Colorado State University Extension in Boulder County. Colorado State University Extension provides unbiased, researchbased information about consumer and family issues, horticulture, natural resources, agriculture and 4-H youth development. For more information, visit the web site at www.ext.colostate.edu/index.html.
R4 AT HOME . Reporter-Herald NOVEMBER 24, 2012
By Carol O’Meara, Colorado State University Extension