As December begins and the days become shorter, we begin to ponder weighty life questions, such as: What gifts to buy for friends, relatives and significant others during the holiday season?
For those lucky shoppers who have a wildlife gardener on their buy-for list, I have gathered a few options I think are worth considering this year.
My personal favorite – and something I’ve asked for myself – is a membership to Bee Better, a nonprofit educational foundation created by Raleigh professional gardener and garden writer Helen Yoest.
The Bee Better website (beebetter.info) is dedicated to spreading information about gardening in concert with nature, including plants, so that the right plants are in the right environment not only to thrive but to support the surrounding ecosystem. While anyone can visit the website, a $25 membership also includes quarterly talks on gardening with nature along with chances to mix and mingle with like-minded gardeners and occasional garden tours.
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“At our quarterly meetings, I may give a talk or invite someone else known in the gardening arena, but it’s not strictly a lecture,” says Yoest. “It’s also a chance to let people share what they know and build a real community.”
Check out the “Shop and Membership” tab on the beebetter.info website for information on joining or giving a membership to someone who loves sustainable gardening.
Other possibilities one might find on a wildlife gardener’s wish list include camera traps. These specially designed cameras are stationed outdoors to provide clear and sometimes surprising photos of animals that visit your property, both day and night.
Science-minded gardeners can also use the camera to participate in the N.C. Museum of Science Citizen Science project called eMammal, that is building a database of animal activity in the region.
Well-reviewed cameras, which typically are mounted on trees or other stationary objects, include the Bushnell Aggressor Red Glow, priced just below $200, or for that very special special-someone, a Reconyx model, particularly the Hyperfire HC500 in the $450 range.
One of my favorite websites for garden products is UncommonGoods.com. Yes, I know it is better to shop locally, but I can’t resist the selection when it comes to creative gardening-oriented gifts. Recently, I have been lusting for the Bokashi kitchen composter that makes quick work of kitchen scraps (and is priced between $15 and $50, depending on size), as well as the cute butterfly puddler ($40).
We are lucky to have so many lovely garden centers in our area and most, if not all, have enticing potential gift options. Gift certificates are always fun, not only because gardeners love to add new plants, but having plant-shopping to look forward to makes the cold days of winter a little brighter.
I always enjoy a trip to Logan’s Garden Shop at Seaboard Station in Raleigh because of its large selection of gardening accessories. Top-quality birdseed and bird feeders are always welcome gifts, and they have a nice selection of tools. Personally, if I had to choose one item from the shop it would be a chiminea or fire pit ($100 and up) for an excuse to continue enjoying backyard wildlife even as the weather turns cool.
Garden Supply Co. in Cary is another highly regarded shopping spot for gardeners of all stripes. Owner Keith Ramsay has a special passion for pollinators and it shows in the selection of plants and accessories.
A delicious and healthy jar of local honey (approximately $15) would be pretty sweet gift for just about anyone on your list, and buying honey helps support beekeepers. Garden Supply Co. makes and sells its own brand, as well as that made just down the road at Campbell Road Nursery.
And if you are not so much into giving things as you are experiences, consider a workshop from one of several great resources in our area: the N.C. Botanical Garden (ncbg.unc.edu/calendar), Sarah P. Duke Gardens (gardens.duke.edu/programs) or J.C. Raulston Arboretum (jcra.ncsu.edu/events/calendar).
The Town of Cary also offers a series of workshops for sustainable wildlife gardening geared to all ages, from toddlers to seniors. Most of these programs are free to Cary residents, but also available to those outside the city limits for a nominal fee. You can check out December’s schedule at nando.com/carygardenevents.
Combining the gift of your time while learning something new together could be just the right organic experience to make this holiday season a little more meaningful.
Reach Elder at firstname.lastname@example.org.