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East Texas Ag News: Christmas gifts for a gardener

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Published: Nov. 23, 2021 at 9:53 AM CST
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ANGELINA COUNTY, Texas (KTRE) - Over Thanksgiving, our family swapped Christmas wish lists. I always struggle with what to put on that list. I certainly don’t put items that I’d buy regularly. I like to make the suggestions to be a little nicer, something I wouldn’t spend my own money on normally, right?

For the past few years, I’ve written about some gifts for the gardener or that one who spends time outside working in the yard. Let’s talk about some nicer gifts for the gardener.

Mayhaws are a favorite native fruiting tree that should work in any landscape with enough space. Give it plenty of sunlight and don’t worry about it not growing in a swamp. The Mayhaw will do just fine in the yard on even poorly drained soil. Do a little research online and you’ll find some selected varieties of this local gem.

Blackberries are also native and typically easy to grow. And if you object to the thorns, rest assured that there are several great varieties that are indeed thorn-less. As a bonus, look for some of the “Prime” varieties that yield fruit in the early summer and in the fall!

Citrus trees that made it through last winter are certainly proven in our area. Some Satsumas, the Meyer lemon and others are well worth considering. Be sure to select those that withstood very low temperatures.

Let it be said that I am a big fan of gift cards. I know, I know, they are a little impersonal. However, let me suggest getting a gift certificate from a local nursery, you’ll be sure to support a local business and guarantee your loved one will get a well-adapted plant.

For the cook and beginning gardener, a small rosemary plant in a pot that is trimmed like a Christmas tree is a nice place to start. Rosemary doesn’t need a lot of watering. It can instantly make a savory addition to home-cooked meals and then can be easily transplanted into a sunny location outside. Your gift may encourage better eating and a healthy gardening hobby.

Garden structures such as fire pits, fancy birdhouses, or an obelisk may be a fine addition to the landscape and certainly won’t need any maintenance.

Quality tools are always a good option. I know that all too well as I confess, I’ve bought one of the lower quality rakes, shovels, hoes or whatever. It won’t last and will only add to the frustration when it does break.

Quality tools command top prices but provide years of service. Felco pruners and loppers are for the serious gardener. True, they’ll command a price tag of almost $50, but oh, my, they are made strong and are of outstanding quality.

For older gardeners that do have a full landscape and garden, but are having troubles working outside, there are several rolling seats, kneeling cushions, and other aids to make tending to plants easier.

Lastly, I think of gardeners as lifelong learners. My current favorite gardening book is The Food Explorer by Daniel Stone. The book costs about $10 and is about David Fairchild, a nineteenth-century American food explorer who traveled the globe in search of improved fruits and vegetables to diversify American agriculture and our diet. Through his work, he introduced crops such as the avocado, mango, and numerous others.

If you look for a book authored by David Fairchild, you’ll find The World Was My Garden: Travels of a Plant Explorer for quite a bit more.

Another favorite of mine is Heirloom Gardening in the South by William Welch and Greg Grant. My interest in history and horticulture are both found here.

Identification books are popular ones on my bookshelf. Though it’s a little technical, Trees, Shrubs, & Woody Vines of East Texas by Elray Nixon has solved many a local “what is this plant” question. It was a little pricey. A lower-cost book is Trees of East Texas by Robert Vines.

Wander the aisles in our local nurseries and ask what’s been a favorite. Consider what tools are worn out and think of the additions that help your gardener enjoy the garden and landscape even more.

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