Times staff and wires
Surely, there's a gardener on your holiday shopping list. Someone who would rather be outdoors than indoors — feeding the birds, cutting fresh flowers or pruning to give a gorgeous tree a special shape. If you're not sure what to get that gardener, here are some favorite picks for holiday gifts.
Help the environment: Birds Choice makes bird feeders from recycled plastic and milk jugs, meaning they don't have to be repainted and last forever. Some models come with attached suet feeders. Each feeder easily mounts on a 4- by 4-inch post or on a metal pole; install a baffle to deter nuisance wildlife. Bluebird houses, suet feeders and bat houses are also available in recycled material. birdschoice.com or toll-free 1-800-817-8833.
Grow backyard bouquets: All you need is a sunny 3- by 10-foot flower bed and you will have fresh-cut flowers from your own back yard all summer long — a perfect project for beginner and seasoned gardeners. The Easy Cut-Flower Garden Book and No-Fail Seed Collection Set helps you achieve success with minimum effort. $37.90 (regularly $42.90) and free shipping; the Gardener's Workshop in Newport News, Va. shoptgw.com or toll-free 1-888-977-7159.
Meet happy birds: There's the angry birds app, there's the happy birds app called My Bird World, courtesy of Birdcage Press and the Cornell Lab of Ornithology for use on the iPad. The app is a collection of four interactive bird games that teach kids about 24 species of North American birds, including their songs, food choices and habitats. The game is filled with fascinating facts, real bird calls and great photos. Players "earn" birds to place in virtual woodland, marsh, forest and other habitats by playing "match facts" or "infestation predation." Winning points help "feed" birds; the games test memory, reading, sound and visual pattern recognition and, of course, bird identification. $2.99-$3.99 through iTunes at apple.com.
Grow what you eat: Create a vegetable-herb garden in a convenient 4- by 4-foot dovetail cedar raised garden kit. To assemble, simply slide the boards by hand into the corner joints and secure the garden frame. Set the frame on any level outdoor space (think patio, too), add soil/compost mix and plants or seeds and grow your good health. $39.97 at Home Depot and homedepot.com.
Prune like an artist: Inventive ideas for training and shaping trees and shrubs are the focus of the book, The Art of Creative Pruning. Author Jake Hobson approaches the subject like an artist, depicting photos of how shrubs can be shaped like arches, tunnels, flowing lines, letters that spell words or art-inspired designs that catch the eye and bear no real meaning. It's a book that needs to stay out, on a coffee table if you have one, because it's as entertaining as it is helpful. $35 at bookstores, garden centers, barnesandnoble.com, amazon.com and timberpress.com.
Great Gazebo: Birds of all kinds will flock to this Earth-friendly gazebo bird feeder, constructed of recycled postconsumer plastic and wood. It's easy to fill and simple to clean with soapy water so birds dine in a safe environment. $9.97 at Lowe's stores and lowes.com.
Pop-up Presto Bucket: It stores flat, opens into a 2.9-gallon bucket and comes with its own carrying case. The lightweight, watertight bucket can be used for many purposes — weeding, washing car, picking fruit, collecting shells and toting small toys. $16.95-$23 in yellow, blue, red or orange at truebluegloves.com and amazon. com.
Rolling with it: Gardeners get a break from constantly stooping over with the Vertex Easy Up ATV Lawn Card and Garden Seat. The oversized seat lifts up for storage space for tools and supplies. The 10-inch tires will never go flat, and a sturdy handle helps you get up and down from the seated position. $65 at Home Depot, homedepot.com.
Adding whimsical interest: Perfect for a dog-lover, the Dog Balancer Stake adds a little fun in the garden as it twirls gently in the breeze. This handcrafted windsurfing pooch is made of welde sheet metal painted in autumn colors, and will oxidize over time to develop a rusty patina. A feline version is also available for cat-lovers. $48 at Uncommon Goods. uncommongoods.com or toll-free 1-888-365-0056.