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Mother’s Day is tomorrow, and I’m sure most of us already have gifts for the mothers in our lives but showing appreciation for all they do is more than a one-day event — it’s something we should recognize throughout the year. It’s early in the growing season, especially this year, but here are a few gift ideas that moms might enjoy:
Today, more and more people, particularly younger adults, are very much connected to nature and our natural surroundings. Growing and nurturing plants, both indoors and out, adds value to their lives, relieves stress and promotes an overall feeling of well-being. It’s also one way to help out pollinators and hummingbirds.
With most of us living closer together, gifting a little privacy can be far more appreciated than we realize. An attractive trellis for a patio or balcony provides a nice screen and, perhaps, a little shade on a hot, sunny deck. Training a beautiful vine on it can add summer colour and with a vine like fragrant honeysuckle, a little perfume as well.
Small trees, like Japanese maples, can introduce a new dimension to patios and balconies. By using lightweight containers and soil blends, fair-sized trees can be grown for privacy, shading and attracting birds. Feeding hummingbirds is becoming more and more popular today. Bird feeders, quality bird food and outdoor containers, filled with plants that attract hummingbirds and other pollinators, make welcome gifts. Some garden stores are creating hummingbird-attracting containers, but it’s easy to assemble one using plants with long, tubular, red or orange flowers — the No. 1 attractors of hummingbirds.
Cupheas have long, narrow flowers that look like tiny orange, red or pink cigars. Perhaps the most well-known variety is Proven Winners’ Vermillionaire that produces flowers continuously from May through October. There are other excellent cuphea varieties, like Blackberry Sparkler and Hummingbird’s Lunch. The old, upright Gartenmeister fuchsia, with its bronze foliage and red tubular flowers, is also a must-have in any hummingbird garden, container or 12- to 14-inch hanging basket.
Pollinator containers or baskets are also very mainstream today. Created well, they can be a source of beauty, fragrance and a continuous supply of pollen and nectar. For the best results, use a combination of small flowering shrubs, perennials and annuals. I like to use some of the new, smaller, non-invasive buddleia varieties, like the Proven Winners’ Lo and Behold series, as well as the short, plump varieties, of my favourite Pugster series. These compact plants blend nicely with perennials, like agastache, monarda, scabiosa and penstemon. Many of the newer varieties bloom far longer for a more continuous show of flowers. Fragrant heliotrope is a pollinator magnet but do a smell test first because not all varieties are fragrant. Small, upright fuchsias are a treat too, as are salvias, verbenas and lantanas. This eclectic mix of plants will attract butterflies, a wide range of bees, including bumblebees, and many other pollinators.
Food garden containers have also become far more popular, but they should be created wisely with a good sense of scale. The very best results are achieved with larger, rectangular containers that measure at least four feet long, 18 inches wide and two feet deep. The secret is to securely fasten a six-foot by three-foot trellis to the back of the container to provide far more growing area for all climbing vegetables, like the new and better varieties of cucumbers, snap peas, beans and vining tomatoes. It’s surprising how vastly improved the production will be in a creative container that includes trellising.
Herbs, too, have become very popular because of the added value they bring to all cooking. Being a little more innovative by using focal points, like shrub bay laurels, you’ll not only have a beautiful eye-catcher but also a never-ending supply of leaves for flavouring foods. I love adding tiny-flowered violas to an herb garden for a ready supply of edible flowers.
Tomatoes are certainly the most-in-demand vegetable, and there are a few standouts. In good-sized hanging baskets or pots, the spillover Tumbler, Tumbling Tom and Tumbling Tom Yellow are among the best choices for an early, continuous supply of small, delicious fruits. There is also a wide selection of tomatoes with bite-sized fruits, such as Proven Winners Tempting Tomatoes Goodhearted and old favourites, like Tiny Tim and Patio Improved. I think the best flavoured tomatoes are the tall, vine-grown varieties, such as Sun Sugar and Sun Gold, and they grow well when staked in larger containers.
Small fruits, growing on mom’s patio, would be a real delight. Everbearing strawberries, trailing over a hanging basket or a tall patio pot, are the No. 1 choice in this category. There are so many varieties available today, both from plant divisions and seed. The new Berries Hill Montana has become the No. 1 go-to variety. Proven Winners has a unique series of strawberries, called Berried Treasure, with either pink, red or white flowers, as well as delicious fruit.
If mom has a passion for gardening, she would greatly appreciate a gift card to her favourite garden store. Subscriptions to garden magazines will be treasured year-round, as will a season pass to our many public gardens. Unique garden art is becoming a huge trend too.
In whatever way you decide to celebrate your mom, or someone special to you, this Mother’s Day, make it a thoughtful and meaningful expression of your appreciation.