Eugene Weekly : Gift Guide : 11.25.2009


Eugene Weekly‘s Gift Guide 2009:

Tak a Cup o’ Kindness Tippling under the tree 

The Art of Holiday Shopping Campus museums make the season bright

Beyond Water Pipes Alterna gifts from the “pipe & tobacco” shops

Won’t You Light My Bike Tonight? Seasonal cycling gifts

Purl It Together The joys of fuzzy yarn shops

Plantin’ in the Rain Winter supplies to brighten a gardener’s heart

First Time’s A Charm Two artists take on the Holiday Market

Annex of Art DIVA delights in new holiday space


Plantin’ in the Rain
Winter supplies to brighten a gardener’s heart
by Suzi Steffen

Gardening rocks! Uh, in the non-rainy months, at least. But keeping gardeners occupied and happy in the dreary gray rain requires more than a simple, “Cheer up! The sun will return in six months!”

The Hummer House at Down to Earth
Paula Grief’s work at Gray’s

At the downtown Gray’s Garden Center in Eugene, sales floor manager Jeff Iak says, “Color. Brighten up their lives with color!” He suggests that the volcano plant, both beautiful and easy to care for, would be a great holiday gift. In addition, of course, the new Reed & Cross Floral shop inside Gray’s can make all kinds of arrangements. Iak himself creates living gardens of all sorts that combine various colors of green inside nice, heavy pots to provide that splash of brightness for the office or the house. For plants and people, Gray’s sells full-spectrum grow lights.

Fussing with indoor plants probably won’t occupy gardeners forever, so Jane Martin-Cervanak of Down to Earth suggests books, seed catalogs and other items that help gardeners think about next year. “In the winter, gardeners plan,” she says. “We try to remember not to plant those experiments that didn’t quite make it last year!” 

To help with the planning (and to provide support for OSU’s wonderful extension program at the same time), she suggests Garden Rhythm. But, especially in the mid-winter doldrums, she knows that some people will want to get the jump on spring with seed starts. To that end, and using full-spectrum grow lights from places like Jerry’s (or, obviously, Gray’s), Martin-Cervenak says that seed-starts will be pleased with heat mats. They insulate starts, keeping them about 20 degrees warmer than the surrounding air. Starts can be created in old yogurt containers, if you’re the reuse type, or Earth Plug containers (the Earth Plugs themselves are also available at Down to Earth and have a proprietary blend of bark and root-encouraging materials). Need seeds for starting? Both stores sell seeds through the winter, though of course not in as much diversity as in the spring and summer, and you might ask friends if they saved seeds. Seed-savers love to share and trade!

When you go on vacation, who waters your plants? Down to Earth has inexpensive plant-watering gifts — some even serve as good stocking stuffers: the little Plant Nanny items. Some come with their own pretty glass bulbs; others use wine bottles (that you supply) or are threaded for any water or soda bottle. They keep track of the moisture levels in the soil and water the plants as needed. 

If you’re going to work outside, mulching, trimming, marking out beds, you’re going to need gloves. The Atlas ThermaFit line keeps the hands pretty warm, Martin-Cervenak says, and cutting back roses gone mad is a lot easier when gardeners have good tools like Felco pruners and pruning shears. 

Each store has tchotchkes galore, some of which serve both visually pleasing and bird-hosting functions. At Gray’s, snag local artist Paula Greif’s succulent birdhouse gardens along with reused rebar stands, and you’ll give little birds a place to fluff out while you get an extra few square inches of garden. Feed the curious and hungry squirrels with a squirrel log from Gray’s. At Down to Earth, you can snag a Hummer House  and provide those hummingbirds who winter over a useful home in a piece of locally harvested art by a local (Florence) artist. Finally, Iak recommends hanging baskets of perennials for color spots all winter long. 

Plan, color, feed the animals and stay as happy as a gardener can be with these local gardening supplies. (And if you’re interested in seed trading, contact me; I’d be happy to set up a seed trade day at the Weekly offices!)