Gifts For The Gardener In Your Life - 27 East

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Gifts For The Gardener In Your Life

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Suet cakes like these fit into simple wire suet feeders. Here there are more than a dozen mixes and flavors. Do the birds really have a preference? They certainly do appreciate your effort though. ANDREW MESSINGER

Suet cakes like these fit into simple wire suet feeders. Here there are more than a dozen mixes and flavors. Do the birds really have a preference? They certainly do appreciate your effort though. ANDREW MESSINGER ANDREW MESSINGER

The Hampton Gardener’s collection of BBG handbooks go back 30 years. These and the newer titles make great gifts as well as ageless references and learning tools for gardeners of all levels of experience.

The Hampton Gardener’s collection of BBG handbooks go back 30 years. These and the newer titles make great gifts as well as ageless references and learning tools for gardeners of all levels of experience.

This bird seed feeder is simply a wire cage protecting the vertical seed tube in the center. It will keep the squirrels at bay, but it will also exclude larger birds like cardinals and jays.

This bird seed feeder is simply a wire cage protecting the vertical seed tube in the center. It will keep the squirrels at bay, but it will also exclude larger birds like cardinals and jays. ANDREW MESSINGER

This store had more than a dozen hummingbird feeders to choose from. They are simply reservoirs of sugar water that the birds sip. There’s no need to buy special “nectar.” Just follow the instructions for making a sugar and water brew.

This store had more than a dozen hummingbird feeders to choose from. They are simply reservoirs of sugar water that the birds sip. There’s no need to buy special “nectar.” Just follow the instructions for making a sugar and water brew. ANDREW MESSINGER

This store had more than a dozen hummingbird feeders to choose from. They are simply reservoirs of sugar water that the birds sip. There’s no need to buy special “nectar.” Just follow the instructions for making a sugar and water brew.

This store had more than a dozen hummingbird feeders to choose from. They are simply reservoirs of sugar water that the birds sip. There’s no need to buy special “nectar.” Just follow the instructions for making a sugar and water brew. ANDREW MESSINGER

This is a new take on the old vertical seed feeder. Metal feeding ports are important, as squirrels will simply chew away plastic ports. This feeder is unique though. The horizontal perch below the port (bottom) closes the port with the weight of squirrel but not birds. However, it won’t stop the squirrels from trying.

This is a new take on the old vertical seed feeder. Metal feeding ports are important, as squirrels will simply chew away plastic ports. This feeder is unique though. The horizontal perch below the port (bottom) closes the port with the weight of squirrel but not birds. However, it won’t stop the squirrels from trying. ANDREW MESSINGER

Autor

Hampton Gardener®

It’s time to take your holiday gifting for your favorite gardeners seriously, and this week I have a few suggestions. Some can cost as much as you want while others can be under $15, so I think this year I may have something for everyone.

If you want to get your gardening giftee a book or two, you should consider the Brooklyn Botanic Gardens handbook series. I began collecting these at least 30 years ago because they were concise, centered on single topics and inexpensive. They first became available in 1945. I still have my first one (of 20) and it was only $2.95. These days they are $10 to $15 but still a great value and great gifts. Current titles include “Easy Compost,” “A Native Plants Reader,” “Edible Gardens,” “Great Natives for Tough Places,” “Fragrant Designs,” “The Tree Book,” “Gardening with Children,” “The Tree Care Primer” and several others. They make great stocking stuffers, or buy a bunch of them to keep your favorite gardener busy in the dark days of winter as they read up for next year’s garden.

You can see the whole catalog of current titles at bbg.org/gardening/handbooks. Once you find the ones you want, you can order online or call the shop directly at 718-622-0963. I’d suggest calling to get delivery for the holiday. There are more than 25 current titles available. You may want a few for yourself.

If you didn’t see the headlines in the news a few months ago, we are in serious trouble when it comes to species loss and a general population loss of birds. It’s been estimated that as much as 30 percent of our North American birds have disappeared in the past 20 years. The decline seems to be due to a number of culprits, and we humans are certainly the primary cause. But you can help. Give the gift of a bird feeder and bird food.

I’ve always been undecided on bird feeding as it has not been without controversy. But, the new common wisdom is that feeding our feathered friends can do much more good than harm. It’s not just as simple as buying a feeder and filling it, though. There are different feeders that hold different kinds of bird food that attract different birds. Some will hold seeds, some will hold only the tiny seeds of thistle, which attracts certain birds, while suet feeders tend to be the favorites of woodpeckers. These feeders can also be a favorite feeding spot for squirrels, so something else to look for is a feeder that has some squirrel protection in the form of a baffle or the manner in which it is hung. Feeders can be found for as little as $15 up to hundreds of dollars.

And there’s one more type of feeder: the hummingbird feeder. Hummingbirds are fascinating to watch, and once you start and continue to feed them, they’ll return year after year. While half of the hummingbird’s diet comes from insects, the rest comes from nectar. We can mimic the nectar with a solution of water and sugar. Remember also that hummingbirds are important pollinators as they zip from flower to flower spreading pollen.

Hummingbird feeders are essentially sugar water reservoirs, and there are many kinds available. Local garden centers can steer you to the most popular ones, and they should come with instructions on how to prepare the sugar water. It’s not just sugar added to water — there’s a little more involved. However, special hummingbird “nectars” are not necessary and not even recommended. The sugar water seems to be the best for them. The more you give and the more that get hung, the more hummingbirds that will be attracted.

Back to the other bird feeders: Birdseed is critical. Don’t just give a feeder, give some seed with it as well even if only a 5-pound bag. Cheap bird seed is just that, cheap. Birds will reject most of the seed, and it has a very low content of the seeds the birds need most in the colder months. The Lyric brand is the one I’ve stuck with over the years. Lyric offers single-seed types as well as mixes. I’ve been partial to Lyric’s Supreme mix, but it also offers more expensive mixes like Delite, Fine Tunes and Fruit & Nut. Each is different and can attract different species of birds. There are several other brands, but don’t feed our feathered friends on the cheap. No matter what brand you choose, try to use their high-end seed mixes as they tend to provide the highest amount of energy during the winter months.

I’ll skip the pruners and garden tools, as I’ve reviewed them in previous years and these can be highly personal choices. An example is the Corona line of pruners. Unless you know which one your gardener likes to use, it’s hard to choose from the broad range of choices they offer.

On the other hand, there is a way you can give a great gardening gift and still let the recipient make the choice. Here we get into the gift certificates. You can start with the pure and simple by giving a certificate from a local garden center. These are pretty safe, you keep your spending local and your recipient can still make the choices.

However, if you have some clues as to your recipient’s interests in the plant world, we can get a little more specific. You can go online to purchase these and they can be emailed almost immediately to you or your giftee. Better yet, a number of these nurseries are offering 10 to 20 percent off on holiday gift certificates that can be used next year.

Swan Island Dahlias sells, you guessed it, dahlias. It is the top supplier of mail-order dahlia tubers in the United States, and you just can’t find anything like its wide range of tubers anywhere else with dozens and dozens of varieties and types to choose from. It’s a good way to get your gardeners into dahlias or to let them order some new and different ones for their garden. You can reach Swan Island Dahlias at dahlias.com or call 800-410-6540.

For new and novice gardeners, there’s no place like Bluestone Perennials. Bluestone offers hundreds of varieties of perennials as well as predesigned garden kits that are easy to install and plant. Its plants are always healthy, vigorous and reasonably priced. Its shipping and packaging are second to none, and I use Bluestone every year for my more common varieties and bulk plantings. Bluestone has great sections of the more common hosta, phlox and achillea and hundreds of other perennials and shrubs. Bluestoneperennials.com.

For the gardener who’s a bit more experienced, there is Plant Delights Nursery. This North Carolina nursery is known for its incredible perennial introductions, natives and hardy orchids. Its catalog is second to none. While I’ve had a few issues with its shipping, this is a very small complaint when you consider the wide range of plants that simply can’t be found anywhere else. And did I mention that its catalog (which also goes to the recipient) is just incredible? Use this link to get to gift certificates, plantdelights.com/collections/plant-delight-gift-certificates.

Song Sparrow Farm and Nursery (aka Klehm’s) has to be one of the top nurseries in the country. I’ve bought hostas, trees, shrubs, heuchera, tierella and other plants from there for years. There is no compromise in quality and selection, but its prices are on the high side. But, like I’ve always said, you get what you pay for, and in this case it’s oh so true. It’s been my go-to nursery for new peony introductions, hosta introductions as well as many of the Japanese maples and magnolias in my garden. You can order gift certificates here, songsparrow.com/catalog/plantlist.cfm?type=GIFT,&startrow=1&subtype=all, or call 608-883-2356.

When giving gift certificates from any of these nurseries, remember that shipping costs can add as much as 30 percent to an order. Be a green thumb supporter and consider that when you gift. If you’re thinking about a $100 gift certificate, maybe make it $130 so you cover the shipping cost. It’s worth it, though, because places like Song Sparrow, Plant Delights and Swan Island offer varieties that you won’t find elsewhere or at local garden centers. Make sure your favorite gardener can keep growing.

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