December is a great time to dress in three or four layers of clothing and take a winter walk around your garden and shake off any snow or ice on bushes and plants before limbs are damaged.
It’s a perfect time to look at your landscape and see where you might want to make some changes. Remember how you wanted to fill up the garden space immediately and planted plants close together to get the effect? Now everything is crowded together and the plants are not getting the proper amount of sun or nutrients..
Are there holes you didn’t notice in the frenzy of the growing season? Has something gotten way too large for the balance of the garden? Start making notes on what you would like to change next year.
Garden catalogs will be arriving in your mailbox soon — use them to help you make decisions about what to add, change or remove in your landscape. Mark the plants and seeds you want to purchase for your garden, note how long it takes to germinate the seeds you are thinking of buying and whether the plant likes shade, sun or a bit of both. Decide where each plant is going to fit in your yard or in containers on your patio, deck or at the back door.
A calendar with writing space will help you remember when to start your various garden tasks.
The Yakima County WSU Master Gardeners have been compiling their wish lists for the coming year. Family and friends might find it helpful to have your wish list of gardening tools, containers or decorative items, gardening supplies, books or gift certificate suggestions to make their shopping easier. It takes the guesswork out of gifting and you’ll be happy to receive something you’ll really appreciate and use.
If you are looking for gift ideas for gardening friends or family members, here are some ideas that any gardener would appreciate finding under the tree or in their Christmas stocking this holiday:
• Look through the gardening magazines at the store and pick one or two to wrap up and put under the tree. Depending on your budget, you could add a year’s subscription to a magazine of the gardener’s choice.
• Make a scrapbook into a gardening journal for a customized gift. There are many interesting and helpful books available on a variety of gardening topics. Children can give “gift certificates” for a time commitment to help plant seeds in the spring, spend two hours weeding the garden or help with other gardening chores.
• Since most gardeners like whimsy in their gardens, think about giving some garden art. The Yakima Area Arboretum, most garden centers and other stores have various items of garden art, such as colorful wind chimes, stepping stones, garden signs, gazing balls, small statuary, bird houses, etc. Think color — like some bright blue hiding around the corner.
• Hands are the hard worker of the gardener so you might consider a wardrobe of gloves: soft Fox gloves for transplanting, nitrile gloves for plain ol’ weed pulling, sturdy leather gloves with long cuffs for rose pruning and other prickly work. Daily gardening gloves wear out quickly so we need new pairs every year. Buy the rubber-coated cloth gloves by the three-pack, add a good hand cream and become your gardener friend’s favorite gift-giver!
• Tools are always a welcomed gift and the most popular is a quality pair of pruners. Other ideas are a water meter to accurately water indoor and outdoor plants or a small indoor plant tool set in a nice tote. Some gardeners like an outdoor apron with pockets in which to put a favorite tool, gloves or cellphone.
• Trying to manage the garden hose can be tedious so you might consider giving a hose holder like Gecko’s Toes. A handy tool that can take the work out of cultivating hard soil up to 8 inches deep is the Dirt Ripper. A scuffle hoe (also called an oscillating hoe) that moves backward and forward and cuts weed roots off just below the surface is another hardy gardening tool.A claw or hand fork for weeding, planting and working small areas, a spading fork, a hard-toothed metal rake, shrub clippers, loppers, a wheelbarrow, plastic bucket and a small tarp are other items that might be much-appreciated gifts for your gardening family member or friends.
• Lastly, consider a gift of a ticket to the February Northwest Flower and Garden Show in Seattle, registration for one or more of the Yakima County Master Gardener Spring Workshops being planned for March or a gift certificate to a local nursery.
• WSU Extension Master Gardener Program is an organization of trained volunteers dedicated to horticulture and community service. Questions about gardening, landscaping or this program can be directed to the Master Gardener Clinic at 509-574-1600 or visit us at the WSU Extension office, (new location) at 2403 S. 18th St., Suite 100 in Union Gap. New volunteers welcome.