Looking for the perfect gift for a gardener in your life?
Then visit the local crafts people and artisans.
These people make unique items for the garden or home.
Each piece is finished with skill and care.
There are many that make planters, gates, benches, feeders, trellises, obelisks and abodes for all types of wildlife.
Each finished project is as individual as the person who will receive it.
The material used is dependent of the artisan, but expect items in wood, metal, ceramic and occasionally glass.
Locating the unique pieces can be a bit of a challenge.
Often word of mouth, social media or, at this time of year, Christmas craft shows, provide the link between artisans and customers.
Different exhibitors will be at each show.
If looking for something specific, ask for a list of who has booths and what is displayed.
When attending a sale, always talk to the vendor about the finished product and the process used.
They might have more product outside or at home as floor space is limited and it can be hard to refurbish the stall when everything is very busy.
Or it could be one of a kind.
Purchasing from a vender is different than from a store.
It is unlikely people will have a debit machine or accept a cheque.
Chances are if you change your mind, they will not take it back and refund the money.
For this reason, know what you are buying and where it will fit.
As with anything purchased, look to see how the item is made.
Is it sturdy?
Does the item appear to have enough screws or welds to keep it together? Are the materials used of good quality?
Will the product retain its colour? Will it have to be stored inside in the off seasons?
When purchasing benches and chairs, sit down and take a rest.
Do your feet rest flat on the ground?
Will it need a cushion?
How heavy is it? Heavy enough to stay put in the wind but easy enough to be moved when needed?
Trellises, arbours and obelisks should be decorative as well as having spots for the plants to adhere to on their journey upwards.
Plants climb in a number of ways.
One is to twist or twine their way around existing materials.
Another climbing method is to cling by wrapping tendrils around anything in the vicinity.
Some perennial vines will send out tendrils that will penetrate any soft material.
Vines can be heavy. Make sure that the item to be climbed is sturdy enough to carry the weight and can be anchored in the ground or to another structure.
The size and shape of a planter dictates what can be planted and how often it needs to be watered. Usually any planter under 14 inches (20 cm) needs to be watered at least once a day. The depth of the planter need not be deep as the roots are unlikely to grow more that six to eight inches (eight to 12 cm) in one season. For a wooden planter to last, it must be made out of cedar or lined with plastic.
All planters must have drainage or the plant roots will get too wet and rot.
Birdfeeders and houses come in all different shapes and sizes. It is a matter of choosing one that will fit into the design of the yard.
The size of the feeder and perch dictates what birds can land. In a bird house, size of the hole determines what birds will nest inside. If the hole is too large, predator birds will be able to reach the young or eggs inside.
Enjoy the Christmas markets, they are friendly places with interesting products. The secret of purchasing individual pieces is to go to a number of markets, and compare the workmanship, designs and product availability.
Linda Tomlinson is a horticulturalist who lives near Rocky Mountain House. She can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.