&‘If you want to attract the western bluebird to your garden," said Nina Gerety, of the Potter Green & Co. shop in Sonoma, "you must have a house with an entry hole that is exactly 1&#8313;&#8260;&#8321;&#8326; -inches in diameter."
"It is best to hang the house in January, so that birds have time to investigate it before nesting begins," she continued, "and that makes it a perfect holiday gift." The houses, which Gerety commissions, are made in the United States of recycled cedar.
Is the gardener on your holiday shopping list a special friend? Add "The Bluebird Book: The Complete Guide to Attracting Bluebirds" by Donald and Lillian Stokes (Stokes Backyard Nature Books, 1991) to one of the birdhouses.
Potter Green is a trove of gifts for gardeners, with both practical items that make work more pleasant and large and small fripperies that adorn both the gardener and the outdoor environment.
"These are the best gardening gloves in the world," Gerety said, holding up a pair in periwinkle blue, "and the only gloves ever to make the cover of the New York Times Magazine."
The gloves, made by Foxglove Inc., fit like well-aged kid leather, come in a range of vibrant colors with and without grips. and are washable. No longer does your favorite gardener have to choose between clumsy gloves and scarred hands.
Other practical treasures you'll find here are collapsible canvas buckets that don't leak; kneepads that are actually comfortable; broad, sturdy soil scoops; beautiful sun hats from the San Francisco Hat Company that are made of ribbon and offer UV protection; and something called the Gardener's Hollow Leg, a canvas sack developed by a gardener in Berkeley that attaches to a belt loop, thus freeing both hands to prune and pick. There are two sizes of the "leg," a large one that will hold about 33 pounds of clippings and up to 60 oranges, and a small one, ideal for picking cherry tomatoes, holding small garden tools and cellphones and coaxing a child to join you in the garden. A leg also can serve as a gift bag; simply fill a small one with a selection of heirloom seeds, gloves, hand tools and such.
When it comes to more ephemeral gifts, adornments instead of tools, Gerety suggested wind chimes, fire pits, fountains and bird baths, especially for the passionate gardener who spends a lot of time outside, and hummingbird feeders that resemble giant crystals.
"Hummingbird feeders do not need to be red," she added.
Potter Green also offers metal flower sculptures, unusually shaped cement planters, decorative tiles and iron hangings to delight any gardener's eye, along with hundreds of other items.
At The Gardener in Healdsburg, ceramic ollas — round, porous jugs made by Red Hot Ceramics, a Sonoma County company — have been flying out the door. These jugs are beautiful, practical and, at just $26 each, inexpensive. They can be set here and there in the garden to please the eye or they can be filled with water or compost tea and buried up to their short necks. The liquid will seep slowly into the ground, providing nourishment to nearby plants.