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Thu, Dec. 05

Column: Romantic ideas for Valentine's from the Garden Center

Courtesy<br>
A lot of women enjoy receiving flowers on Valentine’s Day.

Courtesy<br> A lot of women enjoy receiving flowers on Valentine’s Day.

Valentine's Day gifts can be a challenge for us guys, but most Valentines enjoy flowers, gardening and all things natural. I've found that this category encompasses about 90 percent of all women. Also, for the ladies reading this column, I've included a few gift ideas for the men in your lives.

1) The most obvious suggestion, of course, is instead of giving her the usual bouquet of cut flowers, choose a living plant that will produce a lifetime of bouquets. The blossoms of indoor blooming plants are as varied as the Valentines that will receive them. Orchids, azaleas, African violets, peace lilies and anthuriums present choices in varying shapes and colors. If you've used these plants for previous Valentine's Day gifts, there's a new one that even the most experienced gardener hasn't seen yet: Cineraria. All of these blooming plants are at the garden center now.

2) Gardens are looking rough after our cold winter, but many of the perennials at the garden center have begun to bloom and are ready to spruce up those drab spots. To the plant of your choice, just attach a fancy hand trowel to the pot and offer to plant it for her. She'll be reminded of you every time it blooms for years to come.

3) Find out if he or she needs a new pair of pruners. Insert a homemade coupon into your Valentine card that reads, "Don Juan's pruning service. Good for one day's romantic gardening." Use your imagination.

4) For a fruit tree gardener, a bottle of a good dormant oil or fruit tree spray will be appreciated because it's time to spray all the trees in the yard. If this doesn't seem romantic enough for the occasion, enclose a gift certificate inside your Valentine card so your honey can shop and choose from pansies, kale, primroses and heather. All of these easy to grow pretties are in full bloom and available now at garden centers.

5) Make a special dinner. I'm not much of a cook, but that's why Costco and the gourmet section of Safeway are in business. A fancy table setting and lots and lots of flowers can put you over the top into the "I really love you" category. Remember not to skimp on the dessert. Coco's makes a really good pie.

6) Attend a garden class together. You would be surprised at the number of romantic couples taking my Yavapai College garden classes. I'm teaching two classes this spring. The first, "Gardening for Newcomers," class # 081847, begins Feb. 16. For more in-depth gardening, take "Mile High Gardening Made Easy," class #081849, starting Feb. 11. You'll have a great time together and I guarantee you'll end up better gardeners.

7) Consider buying him a new shovel. Tie a big red bow to the handle and present it with a basket of his favorite beverages. Put together a basket of beers from around the world, a variety of root beers or some Frappuccinos. Trust me; he'll work harder at digging those holes for his Valentine if he knows she'll enjoy a cold one with him at the end of the day.

8) Accessorize the garden. Garden centers are filled with the latest 2008 garden accents that are fun for any gardener. From a wide selection of wind chimes, garden statues, fun umbrellas and outdoor table art it will be easy to pick the right one for your Valentine. You might like to incorporate a cute garden accent with a flowering plant.

9) Offer to create a blooming meadow buy spreading a wildflower mix in the landscape for her. This is going to be a showy year for wildflowers, and February is the ideal month to plant wildflower seed. If you hate to shop and have the nerve to pull it off, you might get several years' mileage out of this gift. Here's how: Because wildflowers are nature's true perennials they reemerge year after year ... and each year you can lovingly point to her latest Valentine's Day gift!

If you visit your favorite garden center with these suggestions in mind, you're sure to find just the right gift for that special someone. Have a happy Valentine's Day,

everyone.

I would like to know your thoughts or concerns about this garden column and your suggestions for future topics. Submit them to me at Watters Garden Center, 1815 Irons Springs Road, Prescott, AZ 86305, or by logging onto my web site at www.wattersonline.com and clicking the 'ask a question link' on the left.

Until next week, I'll see you in the garden center.

Ken Lain, the owner of Watters Garden Center in Prescott, is a certified nursery professional and master gardener who has gardened extensively throughout Yavapai County.

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