Thursday, December 2, 2010

Is a gardening gift appropriate? 20 tips to help you decide

Gifts for Gardeners

Gift-giving time is right around the corner. If you are trying to decide if a gardening gift is appropriate for a friend, relative or colleague, here are a few tips to help you decide. (Note: some items gleaned from the popular, though anonymous, post  "You know you are addicted to gardening when.....")

You know a gardening gift is appropriate for someone if:
  1. You have seen them working in their yard in their pajamas.
  2. They have been known to grab other people's banana peels, coffee grounds, apple cores, etc. for their compost pile.
  3. They are conversant in botanical names.
  4. You have caught them fondling leaves, flowers and trunks of trees.
  5. They think nothing of “rescuing” plants out of other people’s trash.
  6. They would rather spend money on plants than groceries.
  7. They carry a shovel, bottled water and a plastic bag in their trunk as emergency tools.
  8. They spend more time chopping kitchen greens for the compost pile than for cooking.
  9. They seem to like the smell of horse manure better than Estee Lauder.
  10. They think rain is something to capture rather than repel.
  11. They take pride in how bad their hands look.
  12. They see your child's sandbox and think it’s a raised bed.
  13. They have stuck their fingers in the soil of your potted plants to check for moisture.
  14. They know exactly how many bags of fertilizer/potting soil/mulch their car will hold.
  15. They have offered to rake your yard just so they could add the leaves to their compost pile.
  16. Their bathroom reading material is seed catalogs.
  17. They always have to return your calls because they were outside when the phone rang.
  18. They use their good linens to cover their plants in the winter.
  19. They seem almost despondent when the weather keeps them indoors.
  20. They look at your weeds and think they are wildflowers.

Growing up Green - when the students become the teachers

I was at my favorite plant nursery one day when I noticed an elderly couple picking out plants to attract butterflies. They had learned about butterfly gardening from their grandchild, who had learned it in second grade.

The concern over Nature Deficit Disorder
There is big concern in our country about children and their lack of contact with nature. Certainly, with so many electronic gadgets tempting kids to stay indoors, it makes sense that nature deficit disorder could be a legitimate concern. As adults, we can do our part to help solve this problem by teaching kids about the pleasures of being outside exploring nature.

But with kids learning so much about protecting the environment in their classrooms, they may have just as much to teach us as we have to teach them.

I recently received an email message announcing the winners of a drawing contest for local students. Seven hundred and fifty-five students submitted illustrations for the first Washington Suburban Sanitary Council (WSSC) calendar contest. The theme for the calendar is “Our Part of the Chesapeake Bay: Let’s Keep Our Water Clean.”

The young 2nd - 5th grade artists ( six from Prince George’s County and six from Montgomery County) received a certificate and $100.

Most of the entries were about things that have an immediate affect on local waterways, such as not dumping oil and other pollutants, with pictures of happy fish and other water creatures expressing their gratitude.

But, as a gardener, I particularly like the picture submitted by 2nd Grader Yaakov Robinson, from Torah School of Greater Washington, Silver Spring. Yaakov's picture shows two hands, gently placing a new plant into the ground with the caption "A healthy Bay begins in your backyard."

What a wonderful reminder for all of us, as gardeners and property owners. "A healthy Bay begins in our own backyards."

As we near the end of our gardening season for the year, I look forward to all of the new things that we have to learn and teach each other in the coming months. Together, perhaps we can learn more ways to protect the bay from our own backyards, such as mowing responsibly, keeping chemicals out of the stormdrains, and not overwatering our lawns.

Many thanks to all of the students who contributed drawings to remind the rest of us of the importance of protecting our waterways.

To view the winning entries go to:

To order the calendar click on: WSSC ART CONTEST CALENDAR 2011

A portion of the proceeds from the sale of the $20.95 calendar will go to the Water Fund that helps customers who are having a hard time paying their past due water and sewer bills.

The winners from Montgomery County are:
Yaakov Robinson, 2nd grade, Torah School of Greater Washington, Silver Spring;
Michelle Kien, 2rd grade, Stone Mill Elementary, North Potomac;
Adielle Tuchman, 3rd grade, Melvin J. Berman Hebrew Academy, Rockville;
Gabie Gamboa, 4thgrade, Applied Scholastics Academy of Maryland, Silver Spring;
Nicholas Kalargyros, 4thGrade, Matsunaga Elementary School, Germantown;
Christian Oliverio, 5th grade, St. Andrew the Apostle Elementary School, Silver Spring.

Prince George’s County winners are:
Nick Murray, 2nd Grade, St. Mary of the Mills School, Laurel;
Laurren Small, 2nd Grade, Reid Temple Christian Academy, Glenn Dale;
James Reid III, 3rd grade, Rehoboth Academy, Upper Marlboro;
Jordan Cupid, 4th grade, Reid Temple Christian Academy, Glenn Dale
Caitlyn Turner, 4thgrade, Baden Elementary School, Brandywine;
Noelle Morgan, 5th grade, Reid Temple Christian Academy, Glenn Dale;

“Restoring and maintaining the health of the Bay is the most important things we can do to ensure protection of the region’s waterways and ecosystem,” said WSSC General Manager Jerry N. Johnson. “We hope our new calendar with messages from young people will remind folks to not pollute the Bay.”

Holiday wreath workshops - keep your green thumbs active

My husband LOVES the holidays. One of his favorite activities is creating his own holiday wreath with pine boughs and a little bit of anything and everything that he can find in our garden. It is a great way to keep in touch with his gardens even during the slow growing season. If you, too, like the idea of creating your own wreath, here are a few workshops to help you along: 

Holiday wreath workshops:
create a wreath using cedar boughs, magnolia leaves, berry-laden holly, pine cones and boxwood from the Tudor Place garden, all materials provided. 10 a.m. and 1 p.m. Fridays through Dec. 10, 10 a.m. Dec. 11, 1 p.m. Dec. 12, Tudor Place, 1644 31st St. NW. $35 per wreath, reservations required. 202-965-0400, Ext. 110. 

Wreath workshop:
horticulturist Bill Johnson leads a grounds walk and a wreath workshop, includes fresh greens and all materials. 10 a.m.-12:30 p.m. and 2-4:30 p.m. Saturday and Tuesday, Hillwood Estate, Museum and Gardens, 4155 Linnean Ave. NW. $50. 202-686-5807.

For more upcoming holiday activities in the DC area, check out the Washington Post's D.C. Community Calendar.

Website by Water Words That Work LLC