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Give practical gifts to gardeners

If you are stumped over what gift to give the gardener on your Christmas list, make this the year of the practical gift that is given with genuine concern.

Most of us don't really need more "stuff," so the gifts I'm going to suggest show concern and caring not only for the recipient, but also for our community by encouraging local, small businesses.

For example, gift certificates from a local (not big-box) garden store or for lawn service by a locally owned business would be welcome by most gardeners.

A CSA (Community Supported Agriculture) membership would also be appreciated by many families.

With a CSA subscription, one of our local growers of vegetables and flowers will provide fresh produce for the recipient for an agreed-upon number of weeks.

Sometimes professional services make a great gift because a loved one lacks the equipment or skill to do the job — I'm thinking of gift certificates for things such as tree pruning, lawn aeration or shrub or tree planting. Tuning up the lawn mower might also fall into this category, as would installing a water feature, paving stones, or birdbath.

If you have the time and energy, consider offering your own skills at lawn mowing, leaf raking, moving or removing a shrub, preparing a garden for planting or painting a fence. These services often make a good gift from older kids, too.

If you have the skill, you might build a raised bed for someone. If not, a few large patio pots in which to raise plants would make many folks happy. Decorative garden pottery is available from local artisans. And maybe you could add a pickup load, or several sacks, of planting compost, which has been produced locally, to fill them.

Many gardeners like to take classes. The Jackson County Master Gardeners Association offers evening classes for $5 each, and several Saturday hands-on workshops on pruning, rose care, grape pruning and other topics are available for $10 each. On the first Saturday of each November, an all-day gardening symposium called Winter Dreams, Summer Gardens is offered for approximately $40. Information about all of these options can be found by calling 541-776-7371.

If your gardening gift recipient has periods when they are especially busy, such as during apple-picking or tomato-canning time, a day of service from a local cleaning person, a car wash or detailing or a few home-cooked dinners delivered to the door will guarantee big smiles of appreciation.

While a new rose bush, tree or a piece of garden sculpture might seem like a good idea for a gift, be sure to check with the recipient before purchase to verify that the variety and color will fit into the landscape plans.

I'm sure you get the idea. Let's take a step back and give thoughtful, helpful, gifts that come from the heart. It's often easier on the pocketbook, too.

Coming up: Master Gardener Rita Spencer will teach a class on the basics of houseplant selection, culture and maintenance from 7 to 9 p.m. Thursday, Dec. 8, at the Southern Oregon Research and Extension Center, 569 Hanley Road in Central Point. The cost is $5. Call 541-776-7371 for information.

Carol Oneal is a past president of the OSU Jackson County Master Gardeners Association. Email her at diggit1225@gmail.com.