Q: I want to give garden-related gifts this season. Any suggestions?
Mary M., Cambria
A: There are lots of opportunities for giving creative garden-related gifts during the holidays.
▪ Look around for unique pots and containers for succulent cuttings. Use potting mix for cactus and succulents to ensure good drainage. If you have yet to root your own cuttings, attend local plant sales or specialty nurseries to find interesting plants. Consider a native plant that attracts butterflies and other beneficials. Watch for local plant sales with gift-giving in mind. The UC Master Gardeners of San Luis Obispo County holds two plant sales annually and features mostly plants propagated on site.
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▪ Herbs make good gifts whether they are growing in little pots for windowsills or dried and put in decorative bottles or sachets. A quick method of drying fresh herbs from your garden or the farmers market is to use the microwave.
▪ Bulbs make a special gift. Most people love forced bulbs in a pretty container blooming indoors during the winter months. Paper white narcissus and tulips bring color and fragrance indoors. Place bulbs on top of pebbles in a shallow bowl and keep moist.
▪ Consider a gardener’s guide to attracting wildlife or beneficial insects to the garden, a calendar, or garden journal. How about information on how to use native plants in the garden? Or a favorite tool or bird feeder, which will provide joy throughout the year.
Think beyond the iconic scarf or whimsical socks this season and treat special friends, neighbors and co-workers to a dose of nature. It’s good for them and the environment.
Lee Oliphant is a UCCE Master Gardener.
Got a gardening question?
In San Luis Obispo call 781-5939, Arroyo Grande, 473-7190 and Templeton, 434-4105. Visit us at http://ucanr.org/sites/mgslo/ or email us at firstname.lastname@example.org. Follow us on Instagram at slo_mgs and like us on Facebook. Informative garden workshops are held the third Saturday of every month, 10 a.m. to noon at 2156 Sierra Way, San Luis Obispo. Garden docents are available after the workshop until 1 p.m. To request a tour of the garden, call 781-5939.
How to quick-dry herbs
▪ Wash them and let them air dry on a paper towel.
▪ Exposure times vary for different herbs. Experiment by taking 1 or 2 sprigs of herbs like tarragon, parsley, mint or cilantro. Microwave them on a plate for 20 seconds, then take them out. Wait a moment to see if they are completely dry. If the herb is dry, run your finger along the stem to remove the dried leaves. Crumble and put in airtight containers.