From gift-giving to seasonal decorating, December is a busy time. Most of the focus is inside this month, but allow some time to walk around the landscape to check for dry soil conditions. Water if needed — it’s parched out there.
Gift ideas for gardeners
Gardeners are easy to please, and they’re often creative gift-givers in return. Any indoor or seasonal plants such as amaryllis, orchid, Christmas cactus, jasmine, lavender or a dish of paperwhite bulbs are always a hit. Garden centers have a great selection, and if you’re undecided, go for the never-disappointing gift certificate.
For the gardener with a sunny room or greenhouse, surprise them with a dwarf fruit tree or an edible indoor plant that can be moved outdoors each spring. Consider lemon, lime, mushroom grow kits, avocado or a shallow dish of leafy greens.
Herbs are welcome gifts for gardeners and cooks. Small, potted herb plants are easy to find in garden centers, or sow quick-maturing seeds of onion chives, basil or lemon balm. Plant or direct-seed in a spare container or garage sale and just add a bow — no need to spend a lot.
When transporting plants and bulbs from home or the store, be sure to cover them gently in plastic or place in a box to keep them from getting chilled. Poinsettias are very sensitive to cold temperatures. Poke holes in the bottom of foil-wrapped plants for drainage with a dish placed under to catch excess water.
Tools, seed packets, water wands, prepaid soil tests and garden gloves are never out of style.
Consider a gift certificate for a yearly membership to a CSA (Community Supported Agriculture) for seasonal home-grown produce for friends and family who don’t garden or are living in condos.
Food pantries and shelters can use additional dollars and food donations at this time of year; help out with a personal donation on behalf of a friend. Nonprofit groups including botanical gardens, plant societies and charities always appreciate year-end support, too.
Spending time with a friend or relative over a cup of tea or hot chocolate may be the simplest and best gift ever. Or send a pretty floral notecard with a promise to help in their garden next spring.
Twenty-five to 30 million trees will be sold this year in the United States. They are grown in all 50 states. The average tree is seven years old when harvested. Up to three new seedlings are planted for every tree harvested, making them sustainable, and many municipalities (including Denver) pick up spent trees after the holidays for recycling into mulch. Buy local at one of the many lots around town or check out areas for cutting your own tree.
When choosing your tree, check for freshness. Feel a full branch; the needles should be pliable. Brittle needles mean the tree is dry. Lift the tree and gently and carefully shake: heavy needle drop means the tree isn’t fresh, so try a different one on the lot. Look for a straight trunk so it is easier to place upright in the stand.
Cut an inch off the butt of the tree before bringing it inside. This will help the tree absorb water better.
A tree can use up to two gallons of water per day. It’s easy to overfill the reservoir, but you can’t over-water a tree, so check it often.
Keep pets away from Christmas tree water and needles, which aren’t easy to digest and may cause stomach irritation. Also keep them from chewing the lights, hooks and ornaments. Use a spare baby gate to keep them away from the tree, or place it in a room that can be closed off while you’re away.
LED lighting uses less energy and is much cooler for the tree than the older incandescent lights.
After the holidays, use cut-up tree boughs to cover mulched beds for extra protection.
Check with your local municipality for Christmas Treecycling. Denver starts their pick up program on January 5, 2018. They do not accept flocked or artificial trees. More info on tree recycling at denvergov.org.
Artificial trees can be used from year to year; the average life span is 8-10 years. Keep both artificial and real trees away from heat sources including fireplaces, radiators and heat registers....Read more