Langley gardening: Don’t forget the little things for gardeners at Christmas

When gardeners seek out gifts for other gardeners in stores or online, it’s not hard to discover things that would be useful in your own garden – sometimes replacing sentimental hand-me-downs that never did work well anyway.

For instance, rural gardeners with trees shedding acorns or black walnuts usually get into a sequence of rake-bend-rake which can last for hours each fall and is hard on backs. But it is possible to acquire a fruit and nut gatherer, a hollow ball of flexible wires on a long stick, said to pick up quantities fast.

Rural and city lot gardeners find wheelbarrows essential. But storing them takes space best used for other things. Landscapers’ canvas bags have very large, wide-open mouths and are easy to drag from one spot to another. Later, they can be scrunched up into next to no space.

Spades and forks can start to feel heavy as one gets older. That’s where smallish floral shovels and forks start becoming useful for vegetable gardens as well as flower beds. For people gardening in large containers, mini shovels are hugely valuable.

For windowsill gardeners there are mini spades just a few inches long. Both ends can be used. The spade end has a point while at the other end, the handle is fluted.

More of those gardeners are now starting plants on windowsills. It’s still possible to find full-size flats with transparent tops. More useful are narrow flats topped with durable domes.

In most gardens, plants sometimes need staking. But the days of cutting pantyhose or string finished a long time ago. Velcro plant ties can be cut to size and fit snugly through rain, gales, and blistering heat. Better yet, they can be used over and over.

By themselves, Velcro ties are definitely non-Christmassy. But in a decorative basket together with scrubbing type soap, hand cream, copper slug tape and perhaps an LED flashlight for night slug walks, they could get a big welcome. A gel-filled cooling scarf for gardening on sweltering days would be another useful addition.

One spring task for most homeowners is the wasp nest tour, knocking down the beginnings of nests. Personally, I find the paper wasps (with the long legs) mild and friendly. But the yellow jackets get more aggressive, the bigger the nest gets. Those nests must be removed from above doors and unscreened windows.

One way of dealing with this task is the fake wasp nest, which is said to deter wasps from establishing nests within 20 feet of where the fabricated nest is hung. They are quite beautiful, and wasp-plagued gardeners might like to try them out.

In winter, many gardeners like bird feeders in the garden, and some make their own seed mixes. But seed-covered bells or balls can also be bought. Seed-covered decorative little houses are also available. But they are not recommended for bear country.

Bears find bird feeders a great source of food.

Some of the most festive flowering plants (orchids, Christmas cactus, and tender azaleas) need high humidity. Giving a plant mister along with the plant is a helpful reminder of the care they need.

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