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Go Till it on the Mountain

By: Annie Spiegelman
Pacific Sun

Wondering what to get for the garden enthusiast on your holiday gift list? I took a stroll to Sloat Garden Center to find some gift ideas for that would thrill my fellow garden geeks.

We use and abuse our garden gloves, so new gloves are always welcome. Womanswork, a company that has been selling women's functional and stylish garden gear for over 20 years has an assortment of durable garden gloves. Last year I sported the paisley style and this year I have the high performance ones which are tougher, thicker and handle well wet or dry. The company tagline alone should make you run out and get a pair for all your girlfriends and your mom. "Strong women building a gentle world." Vive la femme! (www.womanswork.com)

Also at Sloat, whimsical, colorful and stunning greetings cards by artist Gaelle Boissonnard caught my eye. They're beautifully drawn with themes of nature, cooking and gardening.

Online, take a visit to locally owned Organicstyle.com. Consider the classy yet practical Dutch Trowel. It's engraved, wrapped in a lovely sack and it is simply gorgeous! The trowel's pointed edge works much better than any trowel I've used. You can easily dig deep with it and you can even divide small plants with its sharp edge. The Organic Style Dutch trowel is the crown jewel in our garden. When we're gardening together, my husband and I fight over it and when his back is turned, I usually swipe it and run. A marriage made in heaven.

How about garden books by local authors? Last year when I ripped my front lawn out, I found this ever–so–helpful book called Designing California Native Gardens. Written by California plant specialist Glenn Keator and garden designer Alrie Middlebrook, this book is a mandatory resource to have when you're itching to get rid of whaaa–whaa plants and go native. Filled with colored photos and wonderful descriptions of each plant, you will devour this book.

Another book I cherish is Gardening at the Dragon's Gate by Wendy Johnson, one of the founders of the organic farm at Green Gulch Zen Center. Part garden book and part Zen meditation, this profound book will take you places inside yourself to become not only a more creative organic gardener but a better person. Don't be afraid to go deep. It's fun, I swear. Turn off the TV. Now that the election is done and there's no more pundit–filled–circus interviewing Joe the Plumber on foreign affairs, there's nothing to see. The fender–bender is over. Sit in your garden and be silent. Breathe and be grateful.

A sweet paperback that I refer to often for information on plants that attract butterflies, bees and beneficial insects is Nancy Bauer's The Habitat Garden Book. Bauer explains the intricate inter–relationships of plants, birds, beneficial insects and other wildlife and gives practical tools on ways to get your yard inviting these fascinating creatures to come visit.

If you're shopping online for a Master Gardener or a hortiholic, like yours truly, a membership to the American Horticultural Society (AHS.org) is a thoughtful gift. A single membership costs $35 a year. This will get the member a subscription to the bi–monthly American Gardener magazine and discounted admission to flower shows and botanical gardens. Best of all, AHS members are able to participate in the annual January seed swap. Free, rare seeds are traded (with a small donation for shipping) amongst members around the country. OK, keep your shirt on. Free, heirloom seeds! I know. That is AWESOME. Just writing about it is making me sweat.

Also online, tree–huggers Jon and Steen at Jonsteen Tree Company here in Northern California like to say, "We're fighting against nature–deficit disorder." We need to be outdoors. Gently shove those annoying, oops, I mean, really nice nieces and nephews into the backyard. Confiscate all electronic gadgets and tell them to go plant a tree. Buy them each a Christmas tree seed kit for $6.95 or a party pack of a dozen evergreen species for $59.95. Visit www.jonsteen.com or call 888–387–3379.

Petaluma's Lisa Ludwigsen began the School Garden Company a few years ago. Her skincare products are locally and organically grown. "My whole idea is to get people to be connected to plants they can grow in their backyard," says Ludwigsen. For about $20 you can purchase a beautiful gift box filled with lavender and rosemary handhelp, a wild citrus lipchap, lavender bathsalts, and yarrow and comfrey superhealer for scrapes and cuts. Profits are shared with Petaluma public schools to create school gardens. Visit www.schoolgardenco.com or call 707–762–5772.

Lastly, my pals at Sunnyside Nursery in San Anselmo have a terrific offer for the rose junkie (that would me, again) on your gift list. You can prepay now for bareroot roses and receive a 20 percent discount. These new roses will be available in January. Sunnyside always has a large assortment of bareroot roses and many English ones for us rose snobs. To make us vulnerable and weak rose lovers fall head–over–heels–in–love, each bareroot rose is tagged with a stunning color photo of the rosebush in full bloom. We in the horticultural business refer to this as "rose porn." See, botany is hotany after all.



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