Holiday season gifts and tips for gardeners

What do you need to do in the garden this month? With all the holiday activities, it leaves little time to do much gardening, but don’t let holiday fun totally divert your attention. You can make your own wreaths from your garden, give unusual gifts and care for those holiday plants.

There are still some things to do to make your gardening easier come spring. Many plants still require some attention, especially if there is an unexpected cold snap; you’ll need to protect your frost-tender plants.

Christmas wreaths: Make your own Christmas wreaths from plants in your garden. Let your imagination run wild. Gather branches from your evergreens, berry plants, vines and ground covers and arrange them to fit the setting in your home. Add pinecones, interesting seedpods, fragrant herbs and spices to the design. You’ll love them because you designed it.

Garden gifts: Learn how to make garden gifts from your garden at 8:30 a.m. today at the Springs Preserve, 333 S. Valley View Blvd. You’ll create and take home fragrant wreaths and swag, too. Call 822-7700 for more information.

Other ideas: Are you stumped for what to give the folks on your gift list? Gardening tools and gloves are hot items and will prevent blisters for a long time.

Does it always have to be a tool? What about a houseplant, tree, shrub or even a packet of zucchini seeds? Maybe your friends like to read. Give them garden books or a subscription to a garden magazine and they will thank you all year long.

Nurseries are loaded with gift ideas: a sturdy trowel, digging fork, spade and maybe a caliche bar. Always welcome: kneepads for the aged, straw hats or other accessories to take the strain out of gardening. Note the many new organic pesticides now on the shelves. Nurseries are not as crowded, so they’ll have more time to assist you.

Light your walkway: Try making your own luminaries to place along your walkway. Put an inch of sand in sandwich bags to stabilize them and to hold your candles upright to distribute along your walkway. The flickering candles add so much to your nighttime landscape.

Poinsettias: To keep poinsettias lasting longer, select those with deep green leaves and the center yellow flowers just opening. Protect them from cold drafts while taking them home. Place them near a sunny window and away from air vents and keep the soil moist.

Dream books: Catalogs have always been a stimulant for avid gardeners. Use them to plan your next garden. Those colorful pictures with those perfect vegetables hanging all over them cause you to forget last year’s difficulties.

Frost potential: If we get an unexpected frost, cover your sensitive plants with cloth, burlap or cardboard boxes in the late afternoon. Leave coverings on until it warms back up the next day. Avoid using plastic tarps; it gets 10 degrees colder under the plastic.

Press flowers: Try pressing flowers. Select those just opening. Place them between pages of your phone book and place a heavy object on the book while drying takes place. The pressed flowers will last for years.

For planting: Bulbs catalogs are now flooding our mailboxes. Consider getting cannas, gladiolus, caladium, iris, oxalis, sweet potato, potatoes and dahlia. They love a rich, highly organic soil and working it now will mellow it for next spring. If nurseries still have spring flowering bulbs, plant them.

Bare-root fruit trees and roses begin arriving at your nursery this month. Plant them immediately.

Citrus: Begin harvesting grapefruit and lemons. If you have citrus, be concerned about those freezing nights. It kills next year’s fruit buds.

Perennials: Plant more perennials for long-lasting color. Consider these for this spring: asparagus fern, dusty Miller, gaillardia, gazania marguerite daisy, Peruvian verbena, santolina and stocks.

Roses: Don’t be afraid to rogue out those you don’t like. Avoid fertilizing them until after you prune in January.

Clean up: Good sanitation is the best way to destroy those hiding insects and their breeding locations. Pull, hoe or spot-treat weeds with a contact herbicide as they appear or you’ll be a sorry weeder for several years.

Birds: Attract our feathered friends to your garden this winter by providing seeds and water for them. There are many unusual birds still hanging around during the winter.

Pruning: Begin pruning deciduous trees as the leaves drop. If you prune too soon, diseases may enter trees.

Linn Mills’ garden column appears on Sundays. You can reached him at or call him at 526-1495.

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