COMPLEAT HOME GARDENER: Holiday gifts for the gardener in your life

The beginning of December is your last chance to plant those spring-blooming bulbs you purchased but still have sitting in the garage. If you haven’t dug up and stored tender bulbs like gladiolas, dahlias and cannas then dig in now before the ground freezes solid. Does this sound like too much work? You can gamble with the winter weather and leave tender plants in the ground but cover the planting area with a waterproof tarp or oil cloth. Weigh this down with boulders and a bark mulch and hope for a mild winter. It is the rain that rots tender bulbs in our climate, not the deep freeze that does them in.

Now, make like Santa and start a list to check on twice – three times if you have gardeners to buy for.

This year I am suggesting gifts from a devious Santa. Things to give to loved ones that may not know they really want to become gardeners. Gifts that inspire young people to garden, gifts that get things checked off of the “Honey Do” list.

If you are reading this column you know it is gardeners who will save the world. Gardeners grow food, make the world more beautiful and improve real estate; gardening offers exercise, fresh air and inner peace. We may not be able to mandate that all our world leaders learn to garden, but we can start at home by encouraging loved ones to garden – and this is when the devious Santa gets to work.

Gift List from the Devious Santa

Lightweight, battery powered Stihl hedge trimmer (or any cool new tool).

This is a new product that will turn any couch tuber into a super pruner. This cord-free, gas-free and fume-free trimmer will cut through rose canes, laurel hedges and ornamental grasses while it tidies up all overgrown shrubbery.

New power tools are usually all that is needed to inspire reluctant men folk to become maintenance masters, but this summer the tables of trickery were turned on me. Tired of being asked to prune back plants in our garden, my husband brought home this powerful but lightweight trimmer and convinced me that it was not as heavy, noisy or dangerous as it looked. He was right. I love how easy pruning has become and I no longer need help cutting back the roses, taming the laurel and shrinking the spiraea. This fall I used the new hedge trimmer to cut back the perennials.

New technology has given us a lithium-ion battery that holds a charge for 30 minutes with a choice of battery chargers to fit your budget. (The more expensive battery charger refuels the battery in less time.) Now you can also find leaf blowers and brush trimmers that are battery powered and light enough for anyone to handle.

Price of Stihl HS 65 Hedge Trimmer: $299.95 plus the price of a battery and charging unit

For more info and where to buy:

Tickets to the Northwest Flower and Garden Show

I know teenagers who have sprouted green thumbs after a single visit to the Northwest Flower and Garden Show at the Convention Center in Seattle. (This year there is even a teen garden designer making her debut.) The show runs Feb. 23-27 with the theme of “Once upon a Time in the Garden” so even nongardeners can really dig into the story themes of the elaborate show gardens.

Every year at this show I meet people like the sisters from Alaska who give each other tickets every Christmas, the couple who drive from Portland to celebrate their wedding anniversary and lots of mother-daughter combos, garden clubs, girls night outs (they do serve wine at the show) and even young dating couples dreaming of one day having a garden of their own. No wonder this show is always filled with such a positive vibe. Order tickets early through the website at and you get a reduced rate – and you’ll also have something small, special and devious to tuck into a Christmas stocking.

Price: $16 for advance tickets with discounts for seniors, students and children.

(Oh, and you needn’t mention to your loved one that this show will lead them down the path to becoming a gardener. This year‘s theme will help them read between the lines.)

Green Prints “The Weeders Digest” gift magazine subscription

I’ve mentioned this Mom-and-Pop-style magazine for gardeners before and always receive thank-you letters from delighted subscribers. (No, I do not write for this magazine nor am I paid by them.) Green Prints is old school with no glossy photos and it only comes out five times a year. This is not a magazine that teaches gardening, recommends plants or reviews books. Instead it is a series of well-written, funny, sad and inspiring stories about gardens and gardeners. Each story is illustrated with line drawing artwork and in each issue the editor catches up readers with what is going on in his large family, based in rural North Carolina. The mood is warm and folksy and benefits anyone wanting to escape to the garden without getting out of a chair.

Green Prints might just be the perfect gift for someone no longer able to garden or someone recuperating from an illness or injury. Gardening is all about hope for a better year and faith that seeds will sprout and spring will arrive. This little magazine just makes the reader feel better and there is nothing devious about that. Give yourself a subscription and you’ll probably end up thanking me.

Price: $19.95 for five-issue subscription.

Phone orders: 1-800-569-0602 or visit the website at

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Marianne Binetti has a degree in horticulture from Washington State University and is the author of “Easy Answers for Great Gardens” and several other books. For book requests or answers to gardening questions, write to her at: P.O. Box 872, Enumclaw, 98022. Send a self-addressed, stamped envelope for a personal reply.

For more gardening information, she can be reached at her Web site,

Copyright for this column owned by Marianne Binetti.

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