Season 2 • Episode 23 - November 11, 2023

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For the non-gardener, buying a gift for the person with a green thumb may seem daunting! To get a few ideas we stopped by Portland Nursery on Division and talked to Jimmy about some things he has brought into the store to fill your holiday shopping list. Jimmy is the buyer for both Portland Nursery locations and he pointed out a few of the traditional and non-traditional gifts he recommends for gardeners and others on your list.

Jimmy’s focus for a lot of his gifts were made or sourced from local vendors. For a traditional gift idea Jimmy always has tools at the top of his list. Red Pig Tools is one of those local, Portland area, companies and they make the best tools! Jimmy pointed out their cultivators and trowels as great tools to start with. These tools are hand-forged and are built to last. Buy one of these and you may never need to buy another one! Another great tool for the gardener is the hori-hori knife. This tool is great for digging, cultivating and cutting. This tool is made in the local area by Bridgetown Garden Tools. It is also built to last. The blade is serrated on one edge for cutting through plant roots and for dividing plants, and it has large measurement numbers in the center of the blade so you can accurately get the right depth for planting your bulbs.

If your garden loving friend has all their tools, maybe consider seeds. Planting wildflowers to benefit local pollinators has become a passion for some gardeners. Portland Nursery carries seeds from Willamette Wildings. Their seed mixes can bring you a bunch of different flowers to your garden next spring. The key here is that they have mixes of seeds that are meant for our area. Mixes from national seed companies may contain flowers that are not native to our area and may be invasive, which doesn’t benefit the pollinators or our environment. A perfect gift for the gardener and the pollinator is bee houses. Crown Bees out of Washington state is a producer of quite a few bee-friendly homes. We looked at a few mason bee houses that will help those early season pollinators to feel welcome in your garden. Portland Nursery will also sell you the mason bees in spring when it warms up.

Some gifts to tickle the taste buds were next. Teas from Steven Smith Teamaker were next with some great flavors. One of their blends was named ‘Portland Breakfast’. With a name like that, how can you go wrong?! Maybe your gardener needs a caffeine boost from coffee in the mornings. How about a blend of fresh beans from Blind Coffee Roasters? The blend we saw was called ‘Unicorns and Rainbows’. What a way to start your day! They also carry mushroom kits. With these kits you can grow your own mushrooms in your home. Jimmy said that one of their employees tried it and within two weeks they had mushrooms. Yummy!

We then moved to some fun and decorative items to consider. Jimmy had some great calendars on display. Some featured beautiful scenic photos and others were more whimsical like ‘Nuns Having Fun’ and ‘Death Takes a Holiday’. Kids love gifts and gardening gifts can get them excited about growing plants and hanging out in the garden, too. We saw a birdhouse and paints that allow your kids to be creative and a ‘Grow-A-Maze’. This last gift lets your kids plant a seed and then they can watch as the seed grows through a maze to reach the top and stretch for the sun.

Jimmy and Portland Nursery also support non-profits and fair-trade organizations. This includes fair-trade basketry and decorative lamps. These look fantastic, look like art, and are a real conversation starter in your home. Another fair-trade group out of Nepal makes felt animals that can be used as ornaments in your home and on your Christmas tree. Another couple of local Portland companies are Pomegranate Puzzle Company and The Portland Puzzle Company. These puzzles feature local scenes and artwork and are a great gift for someone in your family or a former Oregon resident who has moved away and longs for a taste of home.

If you are looking for cool ornaments to decorate your tree, you can find some from Old World Christmas in Washington which come in great shapes and characters like Yukon Cornelius and Rudolph from the beloved TV special. They're both collectable and beautiful!

Next we were joined by Shelley to talk about gift cards for your family and friends and benefiting a great cause, too. Gift cards are great for your ‘hard to please’ garden friend because they allow them to pick the gift they want and need for fulfilling their garden passion. Shelley brought up a great idea about gift cards. She is the community outreach director at Portland Nursery. They support dozens and dozens of non-profit organizations in the community. She mentioned the idea of getting two gift cards. One as a gift for your friend or family member, and one that can be donated in their name to a local non-profit or charitable organization. They get a double gift! Portland Nursery has a page on their website with a bunch of charities that could benefit from your gift. Grow Portland, Growing Gardens and Zenger Farm are just a few of the organizations that are listed. You can find a larger list on their website.

Other gifts to consider include: A new feeder in the garden during the winter helps the birds survive the cold conditions and when summer returns they are already patterned to return to your garden, so you will have a full year of little feathered friends to enjoy. Hummingbird feeders are always a great choice too and you can get the nectar already mixed if you don’t want the mess in the kitchen when preparing your own. If your gardener loves plants, consider one that will give them a long period of color and durability like an orchid or a tough indoor plant! If your garden-loving friend can’t get out into their garden, why not give them a pass to one of our great public gardens? The Lan Su Chinese Garden, the Japanese Garden and the Oregon Garden are all great places to visit and enjoy even when the weather isn’t so nice. You can also just pick up a bag of soil for the people with container gardens or a large load of mulch from Grimm’s Fuel (503-636-3623) for those with larger gardens. Grimm’s will even blow it in if they want.

Finally, why not give the gift of a lifetime? Garden Time is offering a tour to Spain and Portugal next September. This trip is a ‘bucket list’ type of trip with visits to world-renown gardens and some of the most famous locations in the world. Go to the Garden Time Tours page for more information and a link to register. This tour is a great way to travel safely with a group of friends and fellow gardeners. We have had many of these tours and they fill up quickly with friends and previous tour travelers, so don’t wait to register.

Whatever gifts you give to your loved ones they will know that they are given with love and the promise of a new gardening year ahead.

We wish you all the best this holiday season and a bountiful New Year.

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