Showing posts from November, 2010

10 Best Holiday Gifts for Gardeners

How do you know what your gardener wants most? Listen for clues by paying close attention to the gardener's running commentary throughout the year. Among the mumbling and grumbling, you'll hear things such as, "If I just had one more (fill in the blank), it would look perfect," or "One of these days, I'm going to have to get a (fill in the blank)" or the far more subtle, "I really liked how that (fill in the blank) looked in the neighbor's garden. Rather than giving the same old garden gloves or trowel set, this year offer something more imaginative. Here are my top 10 recommendations for the best holiday gifts for gardeners. 1. Ratchet tools. Among the new tools I've pounced upon are ratcheted loppers with telescoping handles that extend at the push of a button, and ratchet pruners. Both forestall that wrist and thumb pain that becomes so common as we age. Gardeners who suffer from arthritis will find they can last longer, with less pai

Gentian for Easy Fall Garden Color

Late in the 2009 growing season, I fell in love with the picture on a plant tag and bought five "gentians" at a home improvement store, even though they were marked as annuals. My intention was to use them in my blue garden to replace some native closed indigo that had succumbed to an unknown rust-like disease. I hoped the plants would flower, set seed, and come up again. I got nothing. This year, the plants came back and thrived, albeit without flowers, in both the sunny spot in the blue garden and the much more shady area around the fountain, where I had inter-planted them with begonias. Since a hard frost here (Zone 5B) can come as early as October 5th ,  I had given up any hope of seeing flowers by mid-September. (Normal flowering time is July through September.) Imagine my surprise when the gentians began to bloom towards the end of October! While this past week (mid-November) has seen temperatures close to 60ยบ F, every night of the prior week dipped below freezing. T

Small Town America Celebrates

On our last day in Texas Hill Country, we tagged along with cousin Brenda, whose band had a gig for the town of Stonewall's 150-year celebration. Stonewall is the birthplace (and final resting place) of President Lyndon B. Johnson and much of the LBJ ranch is now a National Historic Park. Stonewall's population is about 526. Folks were at the sesquicentennial to have a good time and visit with their neighbors. Opening ceremonies included a parade of floats, tractors, fire trucks, and horses. A variety of bands played all day and heaping plates of barbecue were served at noon. The conversation at our table revolved around what the "secret ingredient" might be that gave the potato salad its distinctive flavor. Antique farm equipment demonstrations and exhibits, displays from the Heritage Society, fire hose races, face-painting and "steer" roping for the kids, a strolling historic re-enactor, and a lariat spinner all h