December 2012
Home Grown Tomatoes

Holiday Shopping For Your Gardening Friends

The biggest part of fall, so far this year, has been spent reviewing books and researching items to recommend to you. I field test tools on sunny warm days and on those not so pretty days, I read books.

During the whole year, I test tools of all kinds. I don’t only test gardening tools, either. Nor do I only review gardening books. But since this is a gardening column, I’ll stick to the subject at hand. Also, since my space allotment is limited, I won’t waste any words here on anything that is sub par.

The holiday shopping season is upon us and you have probably already made your list of gifts to give to your family and friends. Right? No? Okay, then. Here is my short list compiled from the many hours of laboring for you.

Books are always at the top of my list for holiday gifts for gardeners. What better time to plan a garden and collect ideas for the spring than during the wintertime? It is the prime seed catalog season.


Clockwise from top left, everything you need to know about gardening in Florida. This book is a must for all avid gardeners, no matter where they live! Barbara Pleasant is an accomplished gardener and writer. She was a guest on HGT back in 2005. Gardening in Kentucky and Tennessee made easy.

Calhoun County Extension Specialist Hayes Jackson incorporates tropical beauties into his garden landscapes in Anniston. I have often wondered how to select which plants will work in our climate.

Nellie Neal’s "Gardener’s Guide to Tropical Plants" is a great reference for tropical plant selection offering suggestions on how to select and place tropicals in your garden to achieve the maximum punch of color, texture and intrigue.

"Lots of plants arrive as gifts …," Neal wrote.
She suggests ways to stretch the zonal tolerance of tropicals while searching out microclimates in your landscape and overwintering plants, inside and out.

Gift suggestion: Give this book with a potted tropical plant and a pair of funky gardening gloves.

Some tropical and desert plants are not always adaptable in our outdoor gardens and end up becoming part of our indoor décor.

One of the most complete books on how to get the most out of your houseplants is "The Complete Houseplant Survival Manual.

Author Barbara Pleasant shows you how to enjoy your houseplants even more by teaching you how to not only make them survive but thrive with a complete A-to-Z reference on care, propagation and troubleshooting.

Gift suggestion: Give this book with an unusual houseplant, like a Rex begonia. A funky pair of gardening gloves would round out the gift nicely.

Are you or do you have gardening friends who live in regions of the United States other than Alabama? Well, then, I have a book for you!

For my friends to the immediate north in Tennessee and Kentucky (should be KENN-tucky), there’s the "Tennessee and Kentucky Garden Guide" by Judy Lowe.

Lowe’s book lists the best plants for those regions and covers everything from trees and shrubs to annuals, perennials, groundcovers and even turfgrasses.

For my friends Down South of me, "The Florida Gardener’s Handbook" has all you need to know about planning, planting and maintaining a Florida garden.

No yard? No time? No Problem! National garden television host William Moss tells you how to make the most of your edible gardens.

Cool Springs Press has several great titles in the Gardener’s Handbook series covering most regions in the country. Each book is printed on top-quality paper and made to be used as a handbook as well as a coffee table book. All of these titles are written by well-known garden experts and cover everything from edibles to ornamentals, with lots of color photographs and easy to read descriptions.

Gift suggestion: Give one of these books by itself or with the other titles in the series for the garden book collector like me.

William Moss’s "Any Size, Anywhere Edible Gardening" is an excellent guide on edibles. Moss gives direction on all possibilities on utilizing virtually any space, large or small, for planting food.

Gift suggestion: Give this book with your favorite seed catalog and a couple of packs of seeds or with my favorite gardening tool, the CobraHead® weeder/cultivator. Oh and don’t forget the funky garden gloves.

All of the books are available wherever quality garden books are sold. The CobraHead® weeder/cultivator is available from your local independent garden center or online through most reputable seed dealers. Tropicals and houseplants should be purchased through knowledgeable independent retailers for the best quality and advice.


The whole series of handbooks makes great cross-references for selecting plants. Every garden library needs more than one of this series!

As for funky garden gloves … your local garden shop will have a great selection for the holidays.

Sorry, folks. I ran out of room, so we will have to feature spring bulbs next time.

We’ll be back in 2013 with a new year full of happy gardening excitement!

Happy Holidays, everybody!

If you have any questions or comments regarding things discussed in this column, email me at This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.">This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it..

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