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5 Gift Suggestions from California Master Gardeners

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You've probably got a greenthumb on your Christmas list: someone who's always digging around in the dirt, whether it's acreage or just a couple of windowsill pots. These folks would appreciate something relevant to their interests when it comes time to open gifts. And who better to give advice on presents for gardeners, than certified Master Gardeners? We asked some graduates of the California Master Gardener program for their tips on excellent garden gifts.

1) Denise Friese, a class of 2003 Master Gardener, and current Irrigation instructor, thinks rain barrels would be ideal gifts for the green-thumbed.

"The collected water can be used to give your plants good water after the rainy season or during our warm periods between rain storms. You are also helping to preserve a precious resource, reduce the ecological impact and power use to import our water, reduce pollution in our bay, and recharge our depleted ground water supply. PLUS, there is a new rebate for rain barrels from the Metropolitan Water District," she says. You can buy a standard-looking one, or go for a bit of style -- they're all functional!

2) Moisture meters don't look like much, but they are incredibly helpful! MG Elizabeth Ostrom says, "I recommend everyone get a moisture meter or two for any home or school garden. It's an excellent tool that lets you know if you are under/over watering. And over time, it acts as a teaching tool: how much water is just enough. No more guessing!"

They're easy to use: just stick them in the ground and read the numbers. You'll know if you need to water your plants more!

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3) A membership to a garden club like Huntington Botanical Garden, Descanso, Rancho Santa Ana, L.A. County Arboretum, a local garden club, the Southern California Horticultural Society, the California Rare Fruit Growers, California Native Plant Society ... the list goes on. This suggestion comes courtesy of Jane Auerbach, Certified Master Gardener, Class of 2005. It's a great idea, as these gardens all offer abundant inspiration, and free classes often come with membership.

4) Auerbach also recommends Felco pruners for any gardener. It's a good call: these are widely considered to be the gold standard in gardening equipment.

5) Yvonne Savio, the Master Garden Volunteer Training Program Coordinator, recommends you purchase the California Master Gardener Handbook.

It really is a handy little tome for California gardeners, since it was written specifically for the climates found in our state. There are 700 pages of information on plant propagation, growing berries and nuts, landscape design, and ever more sophisticated garden concepts. "Handbook" is probably understating it: the book's a great encyclopedia.

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