December 15, 2017
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Great gifts for gardeners

By Kathy Van Mullekom, Daily Press (Newport News, Va.)

Surely there’s a gardener on your holiday shopping list.

Someone who would rather be outdoors than indoors — feeding the birds, cutting fresh flowers or pruning to give a gorgeous tree a special shape.

If so, there’s no shortage of gifts for that person. Hand pruners are always needed. Birdseed is welcome, especially some of the fancier mixes that can be indulging.

If you’re not sure what to get that gardener, a gift card to a favorite garden center is certainly appreciated. Tuck the card inside a pair of gardening gloves and tie them with a festive ribbon.

And please, remember to cultivate the love of gardening and nature with any children in your life.

Here are some favorite picks for holiday gifts.

Help the environment

Birds Choice makes bird feeders from recycled plastic and milk jugs, meaning they don’t have to be repainted and last forever. I bought my first one several years ago and have enjoyed how easy it is to clean — remove the mesh wire bottom, scrub everything with Simple Green and hose it off. The colors don’t fade and the stainless steel screws don’t rust; an extended roof protects birds while they feed and keeps seed dry. I now have three of these feeders in my yard, each stationed so I can see it from different windows. Some models come with attached suet feeders. Each feeder easily mounts on a 4-by-4-inch post or on a metal pole; install a baffle to deter nuisance wildlife. Bluebird houses, suet feeders and bat houses are also available in recycled material. USA-made recycled double deck hopper platform, $133;

Welcome feathered friends

A time-honored symbol of hospitality, the pineapple appears in the form of a metal and glass bird feeder in gold and dark bronze with a durable plastic hanging cable. The easy-fill, easy-clean feeder from Colonial Williamsburg holds more than 2 pounds of seed, has drainage holes to keep seed dry. U.S.-made, the feeder is $35; Celebrations in the Henry Street Shops in Williamsburg, Revolutions at the Colonial Williamsburg Regional Visitor Center,

Grow backyard bouquets

All you need is a sunny 3-by-10-foot flower bed and you will have fresh-cut flowers from your own backyard all summer long — a perfect project for beginner and seasoned gardeners. The “Easy Cut-Flower Garden Book” and No-Fail Seed Collection Set help you achieve success with minimum effort. $37.90 (regularly $42.90) and free shipping; The Gardener’s Workshop in Newport News, Va.,

Plant a gift

Take advantage of the discounts on spring-flowering bulbs at garden centers, in catalogs and on websites and plant them in a pot to give to someone, suggested Becky Heath of Brent and Becky’s Bulbs in Gloucester. Or, plant bulbs directly in a full-sun garden for someone on your gift list. “It will be a long-lasting gift that they’ll enjoy for many years,” she said. You can also purchase paperwhites or amaryllis bulbs, pot them up and they will bloom soon afterward; if the recipient lives in Zone 7, the bulbs can be planted in their garden in spring to be enjoyed more seasons.

Meet happy birds

There’s the Angry Birds app, now there’s the happy birds app called “My Bird World,” courtesy Birdcage Press and the Cornell Lab of Ornithology for use on the iPad. The app is a collection of four interactive bird games that teach kids about 24 species of North American birds, including their songs, food choices and habitats. The game is filled with fascinating facts, real bird calls and great photos. Players “earn” birds to place in virtual woodland, marsh, forest and other habitats by playing “match facts” or “infestation predation.” Winning points help “feed” birds; the games test memory, reading, sound and visual pattern recognition and, of course, bird ID. $4.99 through iTunes at

Get wise

A family owned business uses Georgia granite to handcraft Stone Age Creations, including cute little Boulder Owls for the yard. The owls range in price according to their heights in 2-inch increments — the smallest is $5.95 while the largest, 18-inch one is $195. The company also makes handcrafted granite and limestone benches and lanterns for The Garden Shop at Lewis Ginter Botanical Garden in Richmond;

Help make memories

Your favorite gardener will appreciate the thoughtful Moleskine gardening gift box set that includes a gardening journal, memo pocket with six pockets and 12 seed envelopes to collect and exchange seeds, leaves and memories. $59.95 at,,

Prune like an artist

Inventive ideas for training and shaping trees and shrubs are the focus of the new book “The Art of Creative Pruning.” Author Jake Hobson approaches the subject like an artist, depicting photos of how shrubs can be shaped like arches, tunnels, flowing lines, letters that spell words or art-inspired designs that catch the eye and bear no real meaning. It’s a book that needs to stay out, on a coffee table if you have one, because it’s as entertaining as it is helpful. $35; bookstores, garden centers,,,

Design a new look

Landscape designer Julie Moir Messervy helps create a new look for any yard or outdoor space or room with the Home Outside Design app, $2.99 through iTunes at, or with the book, “Home Outside: Creating the Landscape You Love,” $30, from Taunton Press. She shows how it’s all done in an easy six-step process.

Give yourself something nice

Once you’ve shopped for the gardeners and everyone else on your list, do something for yourself. Create a nook on your porch or patio and illuminate it with a cozy tea-light fireplace log, $102 at Then curl up with the December issue of Organic Gardening, now my all-time favorite gardening magazine. I’ve been following this magazine for years and it has evolved from being a scientific bore into a environmentally helpful publication with fun mainstream articles on holiday treats for birds, tapas recipes, tech-savvy gardeners, choosing hand pruners and garden railways. Get two years for a one-year price, plus a garden planner guide, for $23.94;

Kathy Van Mullekom is home and garden columnist for the Daily Press. She can be reached at

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