Stuck for what to give for the holidays? Consider this exhaustive list of possibilities

COURTESY OF CYNTHIA ORLANDO  - Nothing says "spring is coming" like seed starter kits or wildflower packets.With holidays approaching, now's a good time to take pen in hand and draft up your gift list for friends and loved ones. We offer up these earth-friendly ideas for the nature lovers and gardeners in your life.


Whether for planting outdoors or forcing indoors, bulbs are an easy way to brighten the mood of your favorite gardener. You can find ready-to-grow potted bulbs at your local nursery, market or home improvement store, or get creative with your own imaginative gift bags or baskets.

Native plant nursery gift certificate

Native plants, shrubs and trees in our gardens are the simplest way to provide the seed and fruit-bearing plants needed by local birds and wildlife. Another benefit: our lovely native plants are also fairly low-maintenance and require less watering.

Find and visit a good native plant nursery in your area, then watch your favorite gardener's eyes light up with a gift card.

Flower seeds

Nothing says "spring is just around the corner" like a packet of seeds. Good choices include zinnia, aster, lupine and sunflower seeds, because in the landscape these plants attract and benefit butterflies and other pollinators.

Wildflowers, too, enhance the local ecosystem by attracting pollinators and providing seeds for local birds and wildlife. Visit a gardening center and have fun picking out a variety of colorful flower and wildflower seeds your friends can sow in the spring. Add seed packets to a gift box or slip them inside holiday cards.

Garden supplies

Garden supplies are an obvious choice. A new watering can, planter box, rain boots or pair of garden gloves are always appreciated by gardening enthusiasts. Other ideas: a new trowel, garden snips, small pots or a seed tray to sprout seeds in the spring.


New books to inform and inspire your favorite nature lover are sure to please during the cold months of winter.

Cass Turnbull's "Guide to Pruning" is cleverly written and fully illustrated. The founder of PlantAmnesty, Turnbull's book includes trees as well as some 160 other plants.

With its beautiful photos, "Essential Perennials" by Clausen and Christopher is lovely enough to be a coffee table book, but also extremely practical. It's a complete reference to 2,700 perennials — need we say more?

"Month-by-Month Gardening/Pacific Northwest" (Pfeiffer and Rubison) is another excellent pick. Chronologically organized, it's color photo-illustrated and includes a wealth of year-long gardening expertise for our area.

COURTESY OF CYNTHIA ORLANDO  - A new bird house under the tree is sure to please. For the birds

If you have a birding enthusiast on your list, consider a new feeder for seed-eating birds or a nectar feeder for hummingbirds.

Another idea? A new bird bath or bubbler, as birds also love fresh water sources. Your gift recipient will think of you every time the birds gather outside.

Speaking of birds, making suet available this time of year is a capital idea — it provides a high-energy food source when insect eaters switch to seeds and fruits. You can even make your own "bird cakes" for friends by mixing crunchy peanut butter, crumbs, raisins and melted suet — just avoid peanut butter, as it's high in sugar and salt.

On a budget?

One of the best gifts I ever received was a labor trade from two friends who were, like me, gardening hobbyists. One spring, we traded work parties. I provided brunch, they dug up my lawn, and a beautiful perennial bed was born that persists to this day.

Still stuck?

Consider new wind chimes, a rain gauge, indoor plants, a lovely potted orchid or a handsome potted succulent.

Here's hoping some of these earth-friendly gift ideas have inspired you. Have fun and happy holidays!

Cynthia Orlando recently retired from the Oregon Department of Forestry. A former forester, she is a certified arborist and native plant enthusiast.

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