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Holiday gifts ideas for the constant gardener

It's that time of year again, Thanksgiving is over, I've got Christmas music on the stereo, and snow is in the forecast.

Oh the joys of living in Minnesota in December! But all is not desolate and cold in the mind of your gardener loved ones. This is the time of year to dream and plan of next year's garden.

If you have a gardener on your holiday shopping list, and don't have a clue what to get them, here are a few suggestions that will tickle their fancies and warm their hearts.

Good quality gardening tools: Trowels, clippers, hoes and shovels are gardening essentials, and bargain gardening tools can make the work harder. Purchase your loved one good quality tools that will last and can be easily sharpened. Package them in a collapsible bucket so they have a place to put the discards when weeding. Or, if your prefer something homemade; think about cleaning and sharpening their existing tools.

Gift certificates to their favorite gardening catalog: Gardeners love to try out new plants, and may be more apt to get something they've always wished for if it comes in the form of a gift.

Reading material: Gardeners love to read during the off season. Get them a membership to the Minnesota State Horticultural Society (www.northerngardener.org). This membership comes with a subscription to Northern Gardener magazine. The membership also includes discounts to over 100 garden centers and specialty shops.

Classes and workshops: There are many gardening classes and day long workshops that occur during the winter months. Surprise your gardener with registration to one of these. For an extensive list of the many workshops occurring around the state, visit: www.northerngardener.org/events/

Feeders: Bird feeders are a great gift for the gardener longing for outdoor activities in the winter. Make a wooden shelf feeder, or purchase a new feeder at your local store. If the gardener in your life already has enough bird feeders, look for squirrel baffles or consider a pair of binoculars and a good bird book. "Birds of Minnesota" by Stan Tekela is one of my favorites.

Houseplants: A new houseplant might be just the thing a frustrated gardener needs in the winter. You can try something easy like the ever popular Tradescantia pallida (Also known as Wandering Jew) or introduce something wild and amazing like Lemon trees or some of the crazy succulents that are in the local garden centers.

Seed-starting materials: Seed starting supplies and sterile soil are a treat to gardeners who start their own seeds. (Really, I have gotten dirt as a present a few times in the past, and it was wonderful!) Don't forget to include a gift certificate to a favorite seed catalog!

Other backyard hobbies: Bee keeping has become a very popular hobby. So has raising backyard chickens. If your gardener is interested in including livestock next year, look into resources at www.beelab.umn.edu/bee-squad or www.extension.umn.edu/food/small-farms/livestock/poultry/backyard-chicke... . There are also many workshops and books available on these subjects. My favorite bee book is "A Book of Bees" by Sue Hubbell and one of my favorite chicken books is "Locally Laid" by Lucie Amundsen. Get them reading and surprise them with some chicks or bees in the spring.

A raised bed kit: Raised beds require less work, can be placed in areas with less than ideal soil conditions, and are a good choice for small lots and gardeners with back issues.

Whimsical garden art: Does your gardener have a particular hobby or a collection that you can extend to the garden? Visit your local garden center and check out the signs, tin cut outs, whirligigs and other beautiful garden sculpture that will add a sense of whimsy to the garden.

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