COMPLEAT HOME GARDENER: Get creative for those green-thumb types

The second week of December is when holiday shoppers begin looking around for more creative, meaningful gifts. If you want to give something more thoughtful than a gift card to a loved one and avoid huge parking lots and long lines at a register, then visit a local nursery or garden center for a living plant or garden tool. You aren’t required to decorate with poinsettias; garden centers and nurseries offer a nice selection of indoor plants that will look great long past the holiday season.

Now if you really want to get creative with your gift ideas...

Give an exotic experience

Join us for a cruise of the beautiful Balkans: Tivoli gardens, Sweden and St. Petersburg, Russia.

This summer, you can join us as we cruise the Balkans and enjoy gardens in the land of the midnight sun. From July 14-26, we’ll visit gardens and cities in Sweden, Denmark, Estonia, Germany and St. Petersburg, Russia. I think Peter the Great should be called Peter the Really Great Gardener as his personal estate of Peterhof rivals Versailles as the most awe-inspiring water garden in the world. After our 10-day cruise with private shore excursions, our group will spend a few days in Copenhagen to explore Tivoli gardens. If you are interested in Northern European culture, Russia and beautiful gardens at a relaxed pace, this could be the stocking stuffer that tops a lifetime of mundane Christmas gifts – and will really give a winter-weary gardener something to look forward to. The trip is priced at about $3,580 per person. Visit or contact Enumclaw Travel at 360-825-7939 for more information. The group is limited to the first 22 guests.

A good read

The latest must-have garden book is “Dirr’s Encyclopedia of Trees and Shrubs” by Michael A. Dirr, Timber Press, price $79.95, 3,500 photographs, 3,700 species.

This thick, heavy, hardcover is destined to become another classic for author Michael Dirr as he has finished the ultimate, illustrated reference for woody plants. You’ll get the latest name changes for trees, vines and flowering shrubs plus all the essential details about how to grow and how to identify thousands of plants for sale at nurseries. Included are the best- researched recommendations for hardiness in the industry so you can feel confident about trying something new and different in our climate. This beautiful book is full of photographs that will make any homeowner inspired to relandscape, or at least pick out the perfect replacement plant. This new-edition encyclopedia is a must-have reference book for landscape, nursery and maintenance professionals.

Dirt cheap but not just dirt

Give a load of Moo Doo for less hoe, hoe, hoe all year long.

Cost is $20 for a pick-up load. Contact Hy-Grass Farms at 253-833-7707.

What homeowner doesn’t want fewer weeds and a better-looking landscape? This gift also helps to support the local, family-owned dairy farms in the area as they compost and recycle their mountains of manure.

Just be choosy when it comes to your mulch or manure. I use composted dairy manure from an organic dairy farm in Enumclaw because I know it will be weed- and pesticide-free. I’ve had problems with weeds in mulch before. (Wonder how you got horsetail? Check that last load of beauty bark.) Moo-Doo is composted at a temperature that not only kills all weed seeds but creates a product that is odor-free with a rich, dark color. Manure from organic dairy farms does not contain pesticides from lawn clippings or antibiotics from meat-packing lots.

If you have small weeds, just lay down some Moo-Doo and they’ll be gone. For larger weeds smother the patch with cardboard or newspaper and at least 3 inches of Moo-Doo mulch. There’s nothing like the instant gratification that comes from a newly-mulched landscape with a weed-free frosting of dark, black compost.

Just the ticket

A garden to visit in winter: Give tickets to the Northwest Flower and Garden Show.

Visit to order an early dose of spring. This is the Northwest’s largest indoor garden show and runs Feb. 8-12. Prices start at $10 for a half-day ticket and there are also group and early-bird discounts. If computers are not your thing, call 1-800-343-6973 for tickets. Tickets are easy to sneak into stockings and this show is for more than just gardeners. The theme is musical this year so anyone who loves music, flowers or beauty will enjoy the show.


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