Gardening: A gift of time and muscle

Christmas is quickly approaching which means part of the population is sitting back happy that they finished their shopping early and the other part scrambling to finish. Gardeners are likely the easiest to shop for.

Give them a gift of time and muscle. Offer to do a chore that they struggle to do. It could be anything from moving plants or soil to removing flowerbeds to make the yard more manageable.

A gift of a bird feeder and bird food supplies many hours of entertainment. Choose a feeder and feed that works in your area. Sunflower and Niger seed along with suet are all good choices. Mixed seed from a large generic companies have a lot of different types of seeds that are not part of local bird’s diets. Wild birds tend to eat what they know and throw the rest of the seed on the ground. In the spring the seed often germinates and needs to be removed.

The size of the bird feeder purchased determines the birds that visit. Any sized bird can eat at a large feeder while small feeders are too small for a larger bird to sit on the perch and eat. Medium sized feeders can be used by birds up to the size of Blue Jays and Grosse Beaks.

Gardeners that do not use gloves struggle to keep their hands clean and soft. Soft nail brushes often called surgical brushes are gentle on the hands. They gently remove the stubborn dirt that becomes imbedded in the skin. Add a good hand cleaner and moisturizer to complete the hand care package.

Indoor watering systems make it easy for people to leave home and have their plants alive when they return. They can also be beneficial to people who loose plants to either under or over watering. Self-waterers can be as simple as spikes on the end of a bottle to the more sophisticated drip irrigation systems of the greenhouses. When purchasing these for another person, keep in mind their ability to use technology.

Gardeners can never have enough good quality tools. One spade may seem enough as they can crossover from one job to another but specific ones work better for specific jobs. Using the correct tool gets the job completed quicker with less energy expended. For example, it is much easier digging a hole with a long handled shovel as opposed to a short handles spade.

The size and weight of the tool should be appropriate for the size of the precipitant. A child has trouble maneuvering a full sized garden tool and an adult will have an easier time with a chore if the implement is the correct size. Tools come in varies sizes and weights. There is even a couple of different companies who design and sell Ladies tools which are a smaller design.

Ornamentation, depending on how much and where it is located adds to the landscape. Before purchasing a ornamental gift, it make sure that it is in the same style of the yard and there is a place to locate it. Yards can become full of gifts from well-meaning family and friends. Ask the intended precipitant a few questions before heading out. If in doubt, purchase a gift certificate, include a picture of what you were thinking about purchasing but let the person receiving the gift make the final choice.

Gift certificates are not an impersonal present especially if the giver accompanies the precipitant It allows the person receiving the present to plan, dream and receive what they want.

On a final note, at this time of year most garden centres are far less busy than the malls making hopping for gardeners a pleasant experience.

Linda Tomlinson is a horticulturalist that lives near Rocky Mountain House. She can be reached at

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