The Optimist

So here we are, it is the first week of December. I am being inundated with gift catalogues in the mailbox everyday and then, to my surprise and delight – here comes the first gardening catalog for next season. MMMMM. Yummers. McClure and Zimmerman Bulbs. When the weather outside is frightful, this will be perfect for the chair in front of the fireplace.

OK, and now for my top eleven gardener’s gift list for 2005. TaDa!

1. A pair of Felco pruners. They run about $40. Most folks hesitate to spend that kind of money on pruners. They buy the cheapos and muddle along through life, hacking away at their garden, oblivous to the joy and sheer delight that is a pair of Felcos. There are several sizes. I have a pair of standard #11’s. They are available for large or small hands, arthritic ones, and left ones. Once you try them, you will find it unbearable to use anything else. At my house we have dueling Felco’s and rue the day when you are caught using someone else’s set. I even threw water on my Felco leather holster, rolled it in the dirt, stomped on it and then drove over it a couple of times so folks think I have had them forever.

2. A hori-hori knife or Japanese gardener’s knife by any other name. About $22 at the Idaho Botanical Garden gift shop. Amazingly versatile. All my professional gardening friends, especially the women ones, can’t live without this magic tool. It provides incredible leverage when digging weeds, it is perfect for planting containers and just about any other task you might have in mind (and when you thought a trowel would do).

And when you are at the Botanical Garden Gift Shop, hows about you purchase………..

3. A one year membership for that gardener on your gift list. Membership has its privileges. Free admission most of the time, reduced admission prices for special events. You get the newsletter and education catalog 4 times a year.

4. Paid admission for one of the area’s top gardening schools or classes. There are several to choose from,or, you could be Santa Baby, and put gift cards for several under the tree. The Master Gardeners present a Green Thumb Gardening School January 21st at Timberline High School (off Boise Avenue). About $20, call 377-2107 for information. Or, the Horticulture Symposium, February 4th at the Centre on the Grove, $45 for advance registration. Call 888-888-7631 for a gift certificate. Registration is limited to first come first serve for both programs and they usually sell out. How’s about tickets to the Boise Flower and Garden Show in March…..opening night has wine and jazz. Call 888-888-7631.

5. The big kahuna Christmas (melekalekemaka is the thing to say) : an all expense paid trip to the Northwest Flower and Garden Show. Held in Seattle February 8-12th, this is almost a pilgramage type trip for your beloved gardener. You can pick up a round trip ticket on Southwest or Alaska Air for about $100. The garden show website, has tons of info on area hotels. My favorite is the Sheraton Hotel and Towers, simply because it is next door to the Convention Center and about a block and a half from Nordstrom. Need I say more? The Sheraton runs about $199 per night plus add another hideous 18% for taxes. There are less expensive places nearby and you can always room with a pal. A terrific idea: Merry Christmas to me, from me. Buy yourself the trip and have a big time. Include about $15 for the round trip Grayline Shuttle to and fro the airport. And dining is divine in the Emerald City. I adore the Dahlia Lounge, Tulio’s, the Market for a half dozen shrimp cocktails, and a Starbucks about every 20 feet.

6. A gift certificate from one of the local nurseries. Make it small or make it big. These always send me around the bend. I have a heckuva time deciding how many ways to spend it. If it’s big, I could even get a tree! If it’s small, I can get anything I need: gloves, tools, plants, bulbs, whatEVER.

7. A subscription to one or several gardening magazines. Go to the newstand, or Barnes and Noble or Borders and look for Garden Design, Horticulture, Organic Gardening, Gardens Illustrated, etc. Send in the subscription form in your beloved’s name, wrap up the mag and put it prettily under the tree.

8. While you are at the bookstore, get a fabu book for the Greenjeans in your life. See the book review category to the right…………

9. A gift certificate or just a gift (see number 6 above, big or small), to Epitome Home and Garden in Boise, 121 North 5th Street. A lovely garden and decor store owned and operated by my pal, Jeff.

10. A big pot. Yes, BIG. Not chintzy, flinty or small. G0 for the $50 size. Once you go there, it’s like the Felco’s……..there is no turning back. See Boise Pottery on Orchard Street or go to any of your favorite nurseries or big box hardware stores. Nothing less that 24 inches in diameter. Nothing. Pick something that goes with the house. And while you are there, get the rollers or casters that make it possible to move the pot around. And one of those large, clear, round saucers to keep it from dribbling all over the patio. Potscaping is BIG this year. More on that later.

And lastly,

11. A garden journal. Make one with a three ring binder. Put paper in it. Add a camera (disposable or digital whatever the budget) Add a pen and some graph paper. Add pocket pages for clippings and catalogs. And some re-stickable glue for scrapbooking. Heck, just go crazy at the office supply joint.

You could even buy a journal already set up as a garden journal. See bookstores mentioned above. A friend of mine told me how her husband put one together for her and how much she loves it. And loved him for thinking about putting it together. See, it IS the thought that counts!

Oh, and I would relish numbers 5, 6, 8, 9, and 10. Ho!