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More Gifts for Gardeners
by Daryl Pulis

In my last column, I discussed the three books that Georgia gardeners and homeowners shouldn't be without. The three are "A Southern Gardener's Book of Lists", "The Southern Living Garden Book", and either "Gardening 'Round Atlanta" or the "Georgia Gardeners' Guide" depending on the gardener's experience level. This week, I'll share others that are on our Master Gardener's Favorite Reference Books list plus a few just for fun.

"Herbaceous Perennial Plants" by Allan M. Armitage is a favorite of our flower growers. The revised edition's 1141 pages detail thousands of perennials, ferns and ornamental grasses. Because Dr. Armitage is based at the University of Georgia, his comments on which cultivars do best in our climate make it worth every penny of its cost. Another favorite reference is also by a UGA professor, Dr. Michael Dirr. His "Manual of Woody Landscape Plants" is massive and definitely for the serious gardener.

Easier for the homeowner to use is Gordon Halfacre's "Landscape Plants of the Southeast." It has color pictures and the plants are all keyed by size. If you have a spot in your garden for a 6-foot tall evergreen shrub, it's easy to open the book and find a plant that will meet your needs.

For wildflower lovers, or those who just want to know what that pretty plant is by the side of the road, there's "Nature's Melody" by Betty L. Benson. It's a funny name for a great book. All of the plants are keyed by flower color for easy identification.

For the bugs that lurk in your garden, "Rodale's Color Handbook of Garden Insects" by Anna Carr is tops and worth the hunt for this out-of-print book. Barbara Pleasant's "Gardener's Bug Book" is also worthwhile, especially for her environmentally safe methods of dealing with the little beasts.

"The Wildlife Garden" by Charlotte Seidenberg is a must for anyone serious about creating a safe haven for our wild friends. She discusses the pros and cons of wildlife gardening in a frank manner, and can help you avoid some of the pitfalls. I wish she'd written this before I created my own wildlife habitat!

"Perennial Combinations" by C. Colston Burrell is a wonderful book for those who want color in their garden but don't know where to start. Over 120 plant combinations and 22 garden designs make it easy to have a great garden. Besides being a designer, Burrell is a fine horticulturist who has gardened in many parts of the United States. He offers great tips for caring for the plants and offers substitute plants for our hard to manage Southern gardens.

Also for the perennial gardener is Tracy DiSabato-Aust's "The Well-Tended Perennial Garden". She offers planting and pruning techniques to keep your garden in tip-top shape year 'round. The book includes an encyclopedic section with details about each plant, plus a maintenance calendar and lists of plants with high and low maintenance needs, deer resistant plants, clay busters, lists of plants which respond to dead-heading, and other useful items.

In the just-for-fun department, "Passalong Plants" by Felder Rushing and Steve Bender is a must. This book will keep you laughing as you learn about old garden favorites or reminisce about the plants in grandmother's garden.

For the computer lover, or the gardener who wants to explore the World Wide Web with a roadmap, "The Gardener's Computer Companion" is a great start. Subtitled " Hundreds of Easy Ways to Use Your Computer for Gardening" Bob Boufford's book will take you from purchasing a computer, to tracking your garden purchases, to monitoring your garden with a camera, to exploring some favorite web sites. A companion CD includes the full text of the book with links to the websites plus dozens of shareware garden programs and databases.

In the non-book department, for the computer lover, how about a gift of a floppy disk containing your favorite garden websites? Most word processing programs allow you to do this easily.

Other gift ideas for gardeners include membership in the Atlanta Botanical Garden, American Horticultural Society, Seed Savers Exchange, Audubon Society or other group. Membership in most plant societies includes a year's subscription to their magazine. There are dozens of other gardening magazines and if you're not sure what your gardening friend would like, a gift bundle of current issues will allow the receiver to choose.

For a young couple with their first home, a gift of a Landscape Design is invaluable. A good designer can save endless amounts of money and time and thousands of dollars wasted on inappropriate plants planted in the wrong place. Remember that a good landscape costs money- so does a bad one.

A pair of ratchet-cut hand pruners makes a fine gift for a gardener with small or weak hands. The pruners multiply your hand strength dramatically, and along with a reversible kneeling/seating bench, can allow the older gardener to garden more easily.

Perhaps the most asked for and least received gardener's gift is a truckload of aged manure. If your gardening spouse asks for this, remember that beauty is in the eye of the beholder, and compost is finer than diamonds to the true gardener.

Whatever you give or get this holiday season, I wish you peace and joy.

Note- Several people have asked where to purchase gardening books. Humpus Bumpus Bookstore in Cumming, Georgia has a fine selection, and owner Paul Cossman generally keeps the Forsyth County Master Gardener's Favorites in stock. If you're not close to Cumming, Amazon lets you shop online -- just click the button below.

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