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Garden Gate
By Judy Brinkerhoff

« Wine Banter

Christmas Can Be for the Birds... or a Gardener

Every gardener needs one or more of the following:

Seen at Harmony Farm Supply in Sebastopol: a "Garden Hod" in two sizes, $29-$35. It's a well crafted and constructed oakwood carrier with a vinyl-coated wire mesh body. It carries tools, vegetables, holds magazines, or acts as a planter box; a pretty widget of many uses. See a photo at:

"West County Work Gloves", $15, bright colors, with a brow wipe on the thumb!

"Sloggers", heavy-duty rubber clogs, 2-3 types available, $15 and up.

Bird feeders and bird seed, more and better selections.

Decorative pots for deck plantings: Include a small native plant and a bag of organically rich soil.

Kneeling pads are an inexpensive gift. has one that folds double.

A more expensive gift: Redback workboots, $139-$159.

Farmer's Almanac booklets or calendars.

Amaryllis bulb kit, $13.

Felco pruning shears

Sebastopol Hardware has a wonderful garden shop. Garrett's Ace Hardware in Healdsburg/Windsor stocks garden supplies, as does Ideal Hardware in Forestville. It's good to patronize local businesses.

A quick-release bulb planter, made by Oxo. Only $13, especially useful in heavy clay. A brilliant idea; this bulb planter has a lever that releases the soil that gets caked in the shaft. It's made of carbon steel with measurements marked on the side and a cushy rubbery handle. The handle accommodates BOTH your hands for added force. or call 800-545-4411. Add some daffodil bulbs... it's bulb-planting time!

Check out a hori-hori knife/planter (I have one and I love it) and Gloves in a Bottle. or 800-456-3359. Also at Harmony Farm Supply.

Give a gift membership to the California Native Plant Society. Our local Milo Baker Chapter can be joined by contacting Wendy Born at 829-7519 or Memberships start at only $25 and include a monthly newsletter and the quarterly magazine, "Fremontodendron". Free monthly meetings are held in Santa Rosa and include speakers, slides and sales of great books.

One of my fantasies has been for Santa to show up with a truckload of rich compost, mulch or topsoil from Sonoma Compost or any of our local suppliers. Do you know someone as silly as I? Most gardeners would say, YES!....

Several fascinating books have been published lately. One is titled "Hardy Californians: A Woman's Life with Native Plants". It's a brand new version of a very old book, written in 1936, by Lester Rowntree. If you don't know who she is, the introduction to the book will intrigue you. I imagine you will want to do further research on Lester after reading about her. She lived for 100 years (1879-1979) and was congratulated on her birthday by Queen Elizabeth in 1979. At the age of 52, she divorced and set out on the life of a gypsy, becoming the female counterpart to John Muir. She traveled alone all over California by car, foot and burro to identify, propagate, study and live with our native plants. She wrote and studied, suffering incredible hardships, living in deserts, mountains and coastal areas in all seasons. The book is introduced by Lester's granddaughter, Lester B. Rowntree, of Berkeley.

The remainder of the book is comprised of Lester's travels, plant descriptions, and experiences. It's full of photos, including those taken by Lester herself as she lugged a heavy camera everywhere she went. A perfect $19.95 gift for anyone interested in botany, biography, travel, history, California....

There are three books out on working with native CA plants. "Native Treasures" by Nevin Smith, "Designing CA Native Gardens", by Glenn Keator & Alrie Middlebrook, and Cachuma Press', "CA Native Plants for the Garden" by Bornstein and two others. All of them give clarity and insight into many of our native plants and will help in choosing which will work best for a particular yard.

For wildflower seed planters: look at Judith Larner's wonderful Web site: She has a little catalog to mail; her seeds are from her own Bolinas yard and her new book, "The Landscaping Ideas of Jays" is just fabulous. It's not too late to plant wildflowers and hers are top quality.


If it rains, blows, gets really cold, the birds do need some help with supplemental feeding. Black oil sunflower seeds are loved by many birds, as is cracked corn by the quail (if feral and domestic cats haven't diminished their populations). A gift of a sturdy seed feeder with a bag of seeds is a great gift to a child to develop their interest in bird watching. How about the National Geographic's, "Birds of North America" to go along with the feeder, and depending on the child, a pair of decent binoculars? Thistle seeds in a special feeder are great for the lesser and American goldfinches, which present a flash of cheery yellow in the winter. For family fun: Melt some crunchy peanut butter with raisins, cranberries, or nut pieces, cool it and put it out where it won't drip or run on furniture or sidewalks. Of course, there is always stringing popcorn, raisins or cranberries with your kids or grandkids. (As I've just had my very first grandchild, I can't wait to be able to do that!)

Want to make a wreath? Come to our local native plant society's wreath-making workshop, bring your giftee, and meet Liz Parsons, our local plant guru, and other gardening aficionados, have some cider and cookies, and end up with a Christmas wreath. The meeting is on Tuesday, Dec. 18 at 7:00 P.M. at the Luther Burbank Art & Garden Ctr, 2050 Yulupa in Santa Rosa. Contact Betsy Livingston at 887-8873 for more information.

Please contact me at for questions or comments. I'd love to hear from you. Stay safe and warm!

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