Tuesday, December 28, 2010

Coloured Houses and Landscapes

It's official.  I'm obsessed.  I've had a few days away from work this week and decided with that extra time I would finally download the Personal Colour Viewer from Benjamin Moore.  I've been playing with it non-stop ever since.  What's the Personal Colour Viewer?  It's a program where you can take a photo like this

And then you can turn it into this

or this

Computers are truly amazing.

As you can see, we are discussing painting the house.  We knew when we purchased the old girl there would be some work to do and that includes plenty of exterior maintenance.  The first step will take place this coming summer.  The roof needs replacement.  We looked into this work last summer and discovered there were a lot of factors to consider.  What style of roof was the first issue.  Metal, cedar shake and asphalt shingles are all options.  Then there was colour.  We realized we couldn't really decide on the colour of the roof if we didn't know what colour the house would be.  The paint is peeling off the shingles so painting the house cannot be avoided.  But that's not such a bad thing.  It gives us a chance to really make this house our own and it's really quite exciting.

So what has this got to do with landscaping?  I intend to add foundation plantings around the house once the work is complete.  Well, I'm going to try and wait until ALL the work is complete.  It'll be pretty tempting to get in there and dig though so someone may need to hold me down.  I know that if I plant too soon everything is likely to get trampled by men with sanders and paintbrushes so I must resist.  But I am already considering what sorts of plants would go around the house and I think the colour of the house takes on a whole new dimension when you consider plants.  

For instance the red paint is very dark and I think it would need to be balanced with something bright.  Too many dark evergreens could really make the house seem oppressive.  On the other hand the cream colours are just asking for lots of greenery in my opinion.

All this playing around with colour has me wondering what sort of house are we.  What's our personality?  Are we bright and cheery?  Strong colours with lots of personality?  And coming at it from another perspective - what kinds of plants do I want to see around the house?  Grasses and ferns, or bright daylilies and roses?

No answer to those questions yet.  We've got some time to decide and I'm busy just having lots of fun trying on new 'personalities'.  

If you could paint your house what colour would it be?

Have you painted your house?  Did you go light or dark?

Sunday, December 26, 2010

Winter Storms

The weather these past weeks really has me baffled.  When we moved to Atlantic Canada I thought we would never see a green Christmas again.  Prince Edward Island is known to have lots of snow in the winters and below freezing temperatures.  We are a solid zone 5 garden here.  There was snow last year, although not very much.  This year there is not a drop.  Instead my yard has become a mud pit.

The little snow we had in November melted as the temperatures soared up to plus 12 degrees celcius.  Rains have poured down and winds have whipped up everything in their path.  Three weeks in a row we have been hit by a major storm.  I came home from work one day last week to an odd sight.

Honey, says I, did you move the picnic table?

Nope.  That's some wind eh?

This table used to reside ON the porch, not beside it.

Even stranger was the bird I found.  I'm going to warn you all right now, if you don't like gross photos then scroll far down the page.  He isn't dismembered or anything so it's not really bad but he is dead.  I was just so dumbfounded when I found him lying underneath the birch tree.  The thing that struck me immediately was that he doesn't belong here.

WARNING:  I'm going to show the photo now so last chance to avert your eyes.


Can you see what bothered me so much?  Look at his legs and feet.  His legs are seated far back on his body and his feet are webbed.  I don't know what this bird is (and if you know please tell me!) but his legs and feet are indicators that he is a sea bird.  He should not be in my yard.  Google Earth tells me I live just over 1km from the ocean as the crow flies.  Not a terribly long distance but far enough.  I'm guessing but considering the winds we've had, gusts up to 120 km/hr, it's possible this little guy got caught in the wind and was blown to our yard where he was slammed into the birch tree.  The power of these storms is tremendous and it's scary how they keep coming.

We are fortunate to have escaped any real damage thus far but others have not been so lucky.  The north shore of the island has been hit particularly hard.  We walked down the beach today in North Rustico and the damage was obvious.

The siding on this lighthouse has been ripped right off.  To read more about the storm damage here on the island click here.  More photos can also be viewed here.

With temperatures continually jumping around the thermometer the ground is not as it should be.  There should be an insulating coat of snow and frost to protect plants and keep the ground from washing away but that hasn't been the case.  Luckily I had the forethought to put a good layer of mulch on almost everything so the damages at this point appears to be minimized.  The birches are all standing tall and have lots of buds waiting to open for next year.

But the evergreens are showing some wear and tear.  The needles of this white pine are tipped with yellow.  So many factors could be contributing to this.  The ground is sopping and the tree could be drowning in poorly draining soil.  Or conversely, these high winds could be continually stripping the moisture from his needles.

Other trees simply couldn't handle the wind and tipped right over.  We have two spruces that were dug out of the ditch and transplanted in our yard.  They never seemed to have a good root structure so I'm not surprised but it's always disappointing to see this.

Frankly I think this tree should be removed.  If it's roots are unstable after 6 months in the ground I don't think there's a good chance it will improve.  I don't want him to grow up into a big unstable tree as that's a danger and a liability.  But hubby has a soft spot for this tree and has stood him back up.  So we'll leave it for now and see how it fairs in the next storm, which is forecast for tomorrow.

Wednesday, December 22, 2010

Wildflower Wednesday - Staghorn Sumac

Our house is located just a short walk from the beach and at all times of year you can find us wandering down to look at the water and stretch our legs.  On the side of the dirt road as you come to the water there is a stand of Staghorn sumac or Rhus typhina that always captures my attention.

This shrub is native to eastern North America and stands anywhere from 3 - 10 metres tall.  They like full sun and well drained soil.  In fact poor soil conditions will suit these plants just fine.  They're most important requirement is no standing water.  The plants spread aggressively via rhizomes and form large colonies.  The spreading open form makes it easily identifiable at any time of year but during the cold days of winter the red fruiting cones are what makes me take notice.

The cones are what botanists call a drupe.  That means there's a fleshy outer coating around a seed.  Essentially the cones are comprised of many many berries containing a seed in each one.  So not only do sumacs spread by their rhizomes, the birds that feast upon the berries are also spreading the seeds.  Planting one of these shrubs would mean attracting all sorts of feathered attention including ruffed grouse, ring necked pheasant, crows, gray catbird, hermit thrush, robins, eastern phoebe, eastern bluebird and starlings among others.  The berries weren't terribly damaged when we walked past these shrubs a few weeks ago but I'm sure as winter drags on there will be little left. 

The birds have begun to peck away at this cone
As I was photographing these plants my husband asked me their name.  I told him Staghorn sumac and he responded 'how in the world will I be able to remember that?'.  That brings me to the other notable feature of these plants.  Take a close look at the branches.

I got hubby to reach out and touch them.  The new growth each year is covered in a soft fuzz.  Like the velvet on the new horns of a deer in spring.  The branches are extremely soft to the touch.  Their texture and the open shape of the branches is an instant reminder of the name - staghorn.  We'll see if he remembers it the next time we walk down this road.

Many of the details about this native shrub were learned from the wonderful information presented by our local institution, the MacPhail Woods Foresty Project.  Being new to eastern Canada and the province of Prince Edward Island I have so much to learn about the native plants around me and MacPhail has been a wonderful resource in this regard.  I was very pleased to learn this shrub likes poor dry soil as I had rather expected it required lots of water.  Now I'm thinking I might make a spot for it in my garden, possibly adding it to the hedgerow where it can expand as much as it likes.

Wildflower Wednesday is brought to you by Gail at Clay and Limestone.  On the fourth Wednesday of each month garden bloggers come together to share their favourite wildflowers and native plants.

Monday, December 20, 2010

December Bouqet of the Month

My bouquet this month is a little larger than it usually is.  And it only consists of one plant.  The vase isn't as pretty as some of my other vases but it's sturdy as they come and I love it.

Yes, that's my Christmas tree.  I'm a little slower at these things than a lot of other people and it was bought and decorated just this weekend.  No time to look in the garden when there's decorating to do in the house!  and it did indeed take some time to decorate.  You see how that picture doesn't even capture the whole tree.  It was too big to fit.  No kidding.  I spent most of Saturday pulling furniture out of the living room to make way. 

I can't tell you what kind of tree it is.  I'm not too particular when it comes to my Christmas trees.  As long as it's green and smells oh so lovely.  I am particularly impressed though by it's health and bushiness.  This is the second year I've purchased a tree from a local guy in the grocery store parking lot.  Not as romantic as going out to cut my own but they have lovely trees and they're grown on island which is good enough for me.  I can tell by the pruning that was done that this tree was well looked after during it's life time. 

The real story behind a tree is the decorating I think.  The bits and bobs that make up my life are all present for anyone to see.

The winged fairies my mother gave to each of her kids some 8 years or so ago.  This one is named "Gift of Lily of the Valley".

I do so like Lily of the Valley and this fairy is quite charming.

This squirrel is the first in a long line of ornaments given to me by my best girlfriend.  There's a story behind this guy but it's not really suitable for a garden blog. 

Come over and partake of some spiked egg nog and maybe I'll be inclined to share.

This delicate green glass ball is one of several dozen passed on to me from my mother.  I used to beg to decorate the tree with these when I was a child.  However, due to their dainty constitution I had to wait until I was old enough to handle them without breaking them.

Oh the injustices of childhood.

You'll notice there's no tinsel or streamers.  The cats are to blame for that.  Tinsel has this terrible habit of shedding.  Anything that finds its way onto the floor is fair game for a cat and I don't want a piece of tinsel to inadvertantly become a play toy and subsequently be ingested.  Tinsel can so easily become trapped in a cat's intestines and cause damage.  I am fortunate though that my dear boy Gino has never really been too fussed with Christmas ornaments.  In his opinion the hooked rug that hides the stand is by far the best part of the tree.

If you'd like to see some beautiful bouquets please visit Noelle at Ramblings from a Desert Garden where each month she hosts the Bouquet of the Month.

Thursday, December 16, 2010

Perusing the Seed Catalogues

Somebody must have known I was looking at seed catalogues.  Tallying up my purchases.  Wondering if I should just buy seeds that I can plant straight into the ground or should I attempt starting seeds indoors this year.  If I want basil I either have to start my own indoors or purchase the plants.  It's easier to purchase plants at the nursery and just pop them in the soil but it's extremely rewarding to start them indoors and watch them grow inch by inch.  I questioned whether I will have the energy to start seeds knowing there will be so many other chores to do like expanding the vegetable and flower beds, and planting more trees.  Buying basil from a nursery would lessen my workload but does the nursery carry claytonia?  what?  Exactly.  No it doesn't.  Amidst this debate I received a Christmas card yesterday.  Beautifully hand painted.  Addressed from Sechelt, British Columbia.

Inside this card was a packet of seeds.  Heirloom tomato seeds, labelled Clear Pink.  The debate is over, I'll be starting tomato plants indoors this spring.

What seeds will you be planting this coming year?

Monday, December 13, 2010

Contemplating a Vegetable Garden

Some people dream of sugarplums but me, I dream about my garden.  All the time.  Day and night I'm thinking about it.  If I can't be outside, I'm planning on what I will do when I'm able to get outside.

Which has lead to this

Before the snow fell and it got too cold I took some measurements and made up a drawing of my vegetable garden as it is now.  Since then I've been sitting in front of the tv at night and drawing in new beds, erasing them, and drawing some more.  I've been asking myself questions like, do I want more space to walk between beds or is it more important to cram in as many beds as possible?  Another question that has popped up is what do I want to plant in these beds?  It helps to know how much I want to plant and then I'll have an idea of how many beds I need.

So I did an inventory.  This is what I pulled out of my fridge.

What?  You mean to say you don't have a fridge drawer dedicated just to seeds!
I pulled out every packet of seeds I own to see just how much space would be required.  And also to determine what else I would like to purchase for the spring.

I discovered I have a lot more seeds than I realized!  Among the extras I had forgotten about were black currant (Ribes nigrum), red flowering currant (Ribes sanguineum) and beauty berry (Callicarpa bodinieri).  I think I'm going to try growing these and if they germinate they'll likely stay in pots for a year so I don't need to worry too much about where they will eventually be placed.

I also discovered a boon of perennial flower seeds.  I would rather put annuals in my vegetable garden so I will need to find a place to put these.  I'm considering renting a sod remover and rototiller next spring and creating several flower beds in one push.  It's possible those beds could be seeded with these packets.

The perennial seeds include:

Aster divaricatus
Hollyhock (actually a self seeding biennial)
Hidcote Blue Lavender

Shasta daisy; and
Mountain Meadows Wildflowers (this mix includes annuals and perennials such as blue flax, gaillardia, corn poppy and plains coreopsis)

Finally the annual flower seeds!  There's a good mix here including:

Cactus zinnias; and

And I can't forget my dahlia tubers as well.  Looks like I'll need at least one full bed just for flowers!

Vegetable seeds are aplenty as well.  Looks like I don't need to order as much as I had thought.  Good thing I decided to do this inventory as I found the following:

Plato Romaine Lettuce
Rossa di Milano onions
Chantenay Red Cored carrots
First Crop Beets
Zesta mesclun mix
Rebel Radishes
Tortoiseshell spinach
Simpson Elite lettuce
Progress No. 9 peas

All of these seeds, with the exception of the peas, were planted in my 5 beds this past summer but I did find that it was too crowded.  Some of the cilantro and onions didn't have enough space and light and the lettuce did not grow as well as it should have.  So realistically I should create another bed or two and space my plants out more to properly accommodate all these seeds.  Add to that the half bed of garlic I planted this fall, the 25 strawberry plants I intend to order as well as peas and flowers and I think the answer to my question is I need A LOT more beds in my garden.

The key I think will be to use the space efficiently.  I need as many beds as possible but also room for wide rows.  I placed a couple of the boxes too close this year and I'm not happy with the result which is a slight nuisance.  I also need to be careful about ordering too many seeds.  I'm glad I took an inventory because I really didn't realize how many flowers I had and I thought I was short of lettuce seed which isn't the case at all.  It's tempting to go through the catalogues and order up all sorts of new vegetables and flowers but I'm trying to increase the size of this garden just a bit at a time so I won't be overwhelmed by all the work to do.  I'm looking forward to getting on my bike and visiting the beach next summer, as well as eating fresh vegetables, so I need to ensure I've got time for both.

Sunday, December 12, 2010

Triumphs and Tragedies

It's been awhile since I've posted about the ups and downs of my gardening life.  There's less gardening going on these days but it's not entirely absent.  The weather outside today was gorgeous.  Sunny and 2 degrees (celcius).  So we took advantage and spent a good amount of time with the basement windows open throwing firewood inside.  Okay, so for most people that's not really an ideal way to spend the day.  Me neither, my arm hurts now but at least we'll be warm tonight when the temperature drops.

We did manage to relax some afterwards and took a nice walk.

We've had snow off and on in the last few weeks but the temperature has been constantly shifting so it doesn't stay long.  As you see there's no ice on the water and it's running freely.

We happened upon a group of yellow birches that caught my eye.  That bark is just so striking to me.  I'm really glad I planted 2 of these trees in our yard.

Back inside the house I decided to finish what I began the other day and tidy up my house plants.  That dracaena did indeed perk up with some water so I decided to pull the plant out completely and check it's roots.

I was surprised to find it actually has a pretty decent root structure.  This plant does not want to go in the bin at all.  I'm reminded of something I read a while ago regarding children.  A doctor commented that children will thrive in spite of what we do to them, rather than because of what we do.  I found this idea quite profound.  Life, in all its forms, has a natural will to survive and this little dracaena, despite my neglect, and my good intentions, is going to live it's life with or without my help.

Talk about will to survive, that spider plant wants to create a bajillion little spider plants.

Can you see all the babes hanging and trying to find a spot to nest?  Well they got some pots today.

Several shoots got a pot full of dirt to rest their roots in and some water.  I'll attempt to remember to keep them well watered over the coming weeks and we'll see if they take hold.

Friday, December 10, 2010

Do You Have Fruit?

Spending days and evenings indoors as of late I've had some time to think.  About gardening, what else!

I've been planning and scheming what my garden will look like next year, what projects I will take on, what are the priorities and where oh where to begin.  Throughout all this it's crossed my mind that we sure do spend a lot of money on fruit in this house.  This past summer I was paying $4 for a pint of local blueberries. While I'm happy to buy these berries locally it also tells me that I should be able to grow them myself.  I've got space, and acidic soil so why not plant some bushes?  Most blueberry plants that are available are the highbush sort which average about 4 feet high.  Some sources state more than one type is necessary for cross pollination so I would need to make room for a number of shrubs.  And of course you need enough space around the shrubs to allow for picking too.  I'm still trying to work out where I might plant these bushes and I've got a lot of other projects going on next summer so I think the blueberries will need to wait a year or two before I'm ready to commit to this.  But if you grow blueberries, any thoughts you might have on this would be appreciated.

Another fruit I'm thinking about is strawberries.

I think this indicates strawberries grow well here!
 In June and July we buy pint after pint after pint of local fresh strawberries.  Again, if they grow so well here why aren't they in my garden?  This is one project I'm determined to take on next spring when I expand my vegetable plot.  Fruiting plants generally take a few years to start producing so I would like to start some of these projects sooner than later.  I've done a bit of researching on what varieties are available and their qualities and I think I'm going to purchase Veestar which is a June bearing strawberry that does well in our eastern climate.  I'm specifically buying a June bearing strawberry as I took a class some time back with a horticulturist specializing in fruit.  Of course I can't find my notes on this anymore but as I recall he stated that everbearing strawberries were a bit like purchasing a variegated plant. Essentially a plant always wants to revert back to its natural state.  So often with variegated plants you will find new leaves and branches returning to their plain green form.  Everbearing strawberries are the same in that they will always want to revert back to being June bearing.  So you might as well just get June bearing to start with.  My only issue at this point is that the suppliers I've identified only sell strawberry plants in what I consider to be large quantities.  25 plants minimum.  Considering they need to be planted a foot apart I could only fit 4 plants in one of my raised beds which measures 4 feet by 4 feet.  At that rate I'll need over 6 boxes for all those plants!  I might need to find someone to share these plants with.

The third fruit we are considering are pears.  We made a really delightful salad the other day that included pear and hubby proclaimed, we need a pear tree, I love pears!  I couldn't agree more.  I know we have an overabundance of apple trees, but the truth is, apples are not my favourite fruit.  I cannot eat fresh apples by the dozen but pears are a different story.

I need a break from all these apples!
I've done some very preliminary research and it seems pears are finicky trees though. They bloom early, earlier than apples, and are therefore subject to frost.  They also require cross pollination so 2+ trees are required.  They can cross pollinate with apples but again, they tend to bloom before apples so you're better off with two pear trees.  There are a number of U-Picks listed throughout the maritimes that have pears so I'm sure they grow here but I have a lot to learn.  Is there anyone out there growing pears that has a favourite variety or tips on where best to grow them?  Avoiding frost pockets sounds like good advice considering they are susceptible to late frosts but are there any other tips I should know of?  Also, does anyone know of a Canadian supplier of fruit trees that will ship?

How about you dear readers, will you be planting fruit in your garden next season?

Wednesday, December 8, 2010

On the Inside

Lately I've been spending a lot of time indoors and my attention has turned to my house plants.  Oh these poor poor plants.  I neglect them so.  I watered them this week for the first time in months.  Amazing really that they're even alive.  Even more amazing that the aloe is absolutely thriving.

The soil is hard as a rock but those stems are arching out and away growing ever taller.  I should probably add more succulents to my shopping list.

The dracaena has not faired as well.

I gave it some water and we'll see if it perks up.  If not I think I'll pull the whole thing out of the pot and take a look at the roots to see if anything is surviving down there.  If there's a good root ball it'll be worth trying to save but my recollection is that when I bought this plant there was next to no roots on it to start with.  So it may not be worth it.

My african violets are alive and well though their flowers have dried and withered. 

A trim was in order and a new fancy purple pot for my kitchen violet.  I even purchased a bag of fancy african violet potting soil.  My guilt has me pulling out all the stops.

Trimmed and at home in a nice new pot!
The spider plant is alive but looking a little dehydrated and limp. Little wonder. But guess what I discovered when I took a closer look. I knew my spider plant had blossoms in the summer but as usual I ignored it and didn't realize that not only did it blossom, it also produced seeds! Has anyone out there ever grown a spider plant from seed? I'm a bit curious to try. Not that it's necessary because my plant has produced a half dozen or so 'babies'.

Baby plants have grown at the ends of the stalks and seeds have dropped all over the counter.
I'm considering placing the babies in some small pots and rooting them.  Since spider plants are so obviously easy to grow (I haven't killed one yet!) I'm thinking it might be useful to have a few more of them in the house.  That would make up for killing the dracaena wouldn't it?

Saturday, December 4, 2010

Food Bank Challenge

I'm discussing a different kind of gift giving today.  I think we can all agree it's very nice to receive gifts.  And also very nice to give gifts to loved ones.  But there something very special about giving gifts to those you don't know at all.  There's a different kind of satisfaction in completing an act without expecting any recognition or results.

Recently, fellow blogger, It's Me, Sam posted The Food Bank Challenge. (via The Witch).

Sam notes:
Many of us are so fortunate in being able to buy what we like at the grocery store and never having to choose between putting food in the fridge or paying for rent.
Throughout the month of December we're being invited by Sam to post our contributions.  Perhaps together we can inspire others.

My contribution is a little different.  As some of you may have noticed, I love my cats. I have a soft spot where animals are concerned.  I visit the local Humane Society and their website occasionally and it consistently distresses me when I see statistics like 46 animals taken in last week and only 20 adopted out.   Cats and dogs have been bred by humans for hundreds of years to be domesticated animals and by virtue of this domestication they have become dependant on humans.  While they may retain some instincts, they are for all intents and purposes helpless without a human to provide food and shelter.  While I wish I could adopt every cat in the shelter I'm financially unable to do so.  That doesn't mean I can't donate though.  Even one can of food will make a difference.

So I started this week with a box.

And then I looked through our cupboards.  Cats can be fussy eaters so there's usually some cans of food that have fallen out of favour with our cats that I'm able to contribute.

Chicken again!
From there I checked the store flyers.  At least one store each week typically has some pet products on sale and I can generally locate a sale priced bag of cat litter.  And then I did my weekly run to the pet store and added a few extra cans and goodies.  In no time at all the box started to fill.

Each shelter has different needs and will likely have a list of things they could use.  The PEI Humane Society has a wishlist which includes items from laundry detergent to pet food.  Check the lists at your local society and you will find that there are many items besides pet accessories they could use such as your old towels, used patio set or garden hose.

Just the Facts

  • The PEI Humane Society uses approximately 16 - 20 cans of cat food per day
  • Cat litter is one of the Society's highest expenses
  • Wet canned food is necessary to help administer medications, and provide nourishment to cats who will not or can not eat dry food.

Wednesday, December 1, 2010

Gifts for Gardeners

It's December 1 today so that means, in my books at least, that it's officially the Christmas season.  Trees, wreaths, lights and snow are all in evidence right now.  And inevitably shopping must follow.  I can't tell you what to buy for your husband, wife, cousin, or great aunt twice removed but I can share with you a few ideas about what the gardener on your list might be wishing for.  Or, if you're a gardener, gifts you might want to request this holiday season.

1.  The first item on my list is a gift I received in the past.  My Gardening Bag was an amazing present when I received it and it's a gift that I still appreciate and use years later.  This bag comes with me whenever I leave the house and venture out into the garden.  It contains all my essential garden tools so I'm able to do any small pieces of work I encounter as I walk about the yard and saves my feet from running back and forth between house, garage and shed. 

I found an example of a garden bag for sale at Amazon (just click on the link at left to take you to the Amazone website).  This pink number comes with a set of hand tools and a portion of the proceeds go to support the National Breast Cancer Foundation which is a nice gesture.  One thing I like about buying a garden bag is that it can become part of a larger present or a replacement for a Christmas stocking.  Like the handtools pictured in the pink bag you can fill your bag with any amount of items to personalize the gift you are giving.  When I received my garden bag it contained tools for gardening but also small personal gifts like dominos.

2.  Found a bag but it's empty?  Wondering where to find some hand tools?  Look no farther than one my favourite stores - Lee Valley.  If you've read this blog in the last month you'll know I'm a Lee Valley fan girl.  They're Canadian and they have all the latest and greatest gardening gadgets.  One of my favourite past gifts was a stocking stuffer from my husband - the Lee Valley small tools set.

This set is actually meant for children but their sturdiness and lightweight character makes them usable and easy to cart around in my bag without putting my shoulder out.  Plus their bright and cheery colours are always good for a smile.

3.  Looking for small filler items that won't cost a great deal?  Every summer I go through countless bottles of sunscreen, aloe, lip balm and mosquito repellant.  All items that are nice to have on hand when I'm out in the garden.  A visit to your local drug store will likely turn up all these items.  Burt's Bees products can be found in most drug stores and offer a line of outdoor products including sun care, lip balms and repellants.

4.  While it's great to buy items that will be useful throughout the gardening season why not include something to be enjoyed in the winter months while your gardening friend is waiting for spring to come.  A subscription to a gardening magazine will delight them each month and help to ease their green thumb during the cold months of winter.  Magazines vary depending on your location but for those of us in Canada some options include Gardens West (or East, Central, and Prairies), Harrowsmith Country Life or Canadian Gardening.

5.  Many gardeners are also nature lovers.  Our gardens provide us with a connection to the natural world around us and many times offer us a way to view nature up close.  One of the most common critters we see and hope to attract are birds.  If you or your gardener has a soft spot for these winged creatures a copy of this amazing series, The Life of Birds, will be sure to capture their attention.  

This 10 part series is hosted by Sir David Attenborough and describes some of the most beautiful and varied birds around the planet.  Like the popular series, Planet Earth, the images will amaze you and the in depth look at bird behaviour will keep you entertained and intrigued.

What about you fellow readers - What past gardening gift was your favourite?  What would you like to receive this Christmas?