Tis the season

Photo by Kit Flynn.

HOW DOES YOUR GARDEN GROW

By Kit Flynn
Columnist

Tis the season to be thinking of gifts; this frequently creates a dilemma as to what to gift a gardener if you have no interest in tilling the soil. Every year, I try to come up with several suggestions.

Most gardeners enjoy having roses in their gardens – and there are several gifts that can satisfy the rose gardener. A membership in the American Rose Society is often appreciated. Not only does their website offer much pertinent information about this complicated subject, but their magazine, “American Rose,” is one I read from cover to cover, especially their “American Rose Annual” which arrives in December. This issue covers the “latest in rose research, growing techniques, tips and more.” I always learn something about this species from each issue.

Most general gardening magazines fail to excite me as ours is a large, diverse country. The conditions facing California gardeners are far different from those we have to deal with here in the Triangle. The inevitable lists, such as “The Best Plants to Grow,” often leave me in a state in frustration as they frequently feature plants unsuitable for our climate. With its deplorable soil, what grows well in Florida can fade away to nothingness here – and vice versa.

However, for years I have subscribed to “The American Gardener,” published by the American Horticultural Society as it contains articles that instruct me well. For example, the latest issue has a great article on buds, explaining the differences in different bud types and those that originate on new wood versus old wood. This might not turn you on, but it is pertinent information for the gardener. This is a magazine devoted to more than just pretty, manicured pictures.

Many specific plants have a huge following, and a magazine is devoted to them. There are, for example, magazines devoted to daylilies, camellias, and various native plants. Among the best and most informative of these is the “Hosta Journal,” published by the American Hosta Society. I realize that many readers cannot grow hostas because hostas are the ultimate deer candy. However, I urge you not to overlook this magazine as its in-depth articles contain a lot of information that can be transferred to other plants.

The latest issue deals with mixing hostas with evergreens. Now planting among evergreens can present problems but the photos provide a lot of good information about incorporating plants other than hostas into the conifer landscape. Should you want to dip your toes into the wide world of hostas, this magazine also lists the most popular hostas, an indication that these varieties grow well, an important consideration

Gift certificates (something I usually avoid in other circumstances) offered by various nurseries are always appreciated. If the gardener likes roses, a gift certificate to Roses Unlimited is always appreciated. Now, there are many great online nurseries specializing in roses, but this particular one in my go-to when it comes to roses. In the first place, it’s situated in South Carolina so the roses make their journey overnight, limiting their amount of stress. In the second place, all the roses are grown on their own roots, a feature that is a must for me. In the third place, the quality and selection are excellent. One caveat: There is not much information on this website so the buyer must do their homework diligently beforehand.

We have one of the best hosta hybridizers in the state. Bob Solberg’s Green Hill Hostas has an excellent assortment and quality in addition to his own popular hybrids, such as ‘Guacamole’. Bob’s knowledge of hostas is awesome and his periodic newsletter, “The Green Hill Gossip” is one of the best in the business. A trip to his nursery in Franklinton is always a treat, although he will happily ship his plants.

The last nursery I’ll suggest is Raleigh’s own Plant Delights, whose wide variety of plants can be described in two words: totally awesome. This is the January catalog I eagerly await, and their plants are shipped with incredible care and perfection.

A long time ago, an experienced gardener recommended Japanese gardening tools to me as I was complaining that gardening shears had a short lifetime in my hands. Consequently, four years ago I found some Japanese shears – and they are still going strong. Alas, unable to read the Japanese symbols on the shears, I am unable to recommend the brand. They are not beautiful, they are dark colored – but they are still as sharp as the day I inaugurated them. A brief Google search for “Japanese garden tools” will send you some suggested sites, including Amazon. I can only add that these shears have served me well.

Hopefully, these suggestions for armchair shopping are of help. Remember, spring is right around the corner!


After being an active member of the Durham County Extension Master Gardeners for 13 years, Kit Flynn now holds emeritus status. For five years she was the gardening correspondent for “Senior Correspondent” and shared “The Absentee Gardener” column with fellow Master Gardener Lise Jenkins. She has given numerous presentations on various gardening topics to Triangle organizations and can be reached at howyourgardengrows@icloud.com.
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