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"A Gardener’s List of Things to be Thankful for," by the Whistling Gardener

The Whistling Gardener shares a few of his thoughts on things to be thankful for this Thanksgiving.
Katsura with fall color. Photo courtesy of Sunnyside Nursery.

This column is being reproduced with the permission of Steve Smith, The Whistling Gardener, and owner of Sunnyside Nursery in Marysville.

Here are a few of my thoughts on things to be thankful for this Thanksgiving...

Battery powered tools - Many of you may know that I love my leaf blower for all the work it can do in places where it is difficult to rake without removing all the gravel or mulch. Over the years I have probably owned just about every incarnation of a gasoline powered yard care tool ever manufactured. While they were fast and efficient, they also came with noise and air pollution challenges. This year I have upgraded most of these tools to battery powered units that are clean and quiet and I am extremely thankful for this new technology. I highly recommend that you try some of them out.

Fall Color and Seasons - Growing up in southern California didn’t afford me much exposure to fall color, or seasonal changes for that matter. Living in the northwest seems to be just the right combination of fall foliage color and seasonal variations. I am thankful for our seasons that bring change but also order to my gardening world. They give me something to look forward to every month of the year.

Winter blooming plants - I am thankful for the many plants that will bloom in our mild winters and carry us into the spring season. No matter what time of year it is, there is always something coming into bloom in this part of the country. As I have said often, “It’s so easy to have year ‘round interest that there is just no excuse for a boring yard.

Colorful foliage - I am thankful for all of the colorful conifers and broadleaved evergreens that brighten up the gloomy gray skies of winter. Glittering golden yews, cedars, cypress and Cryptomeria. Golden yuccas and box-leaved honeysuckle, variegated hollies and Pieris. Blues, bronzes, reds and oranges, every color of the rainbow is represented in the plants we can grow in this mild climate zone. The variety is astounding!

Spring bulbs - You can’t grow tulips, daffodils and other similar bulbs in tropical climates unless you refrigerate them for three months first. We have just enough winter chill that all we have to do is plant them in the fall and up they come in the spring, all on their own. Bulbs are truly a miracle of spring, for which I am very thankful for.

Pansies - I am thankful for pansies - those little troopers, that just like the energizer bunny keep going and going and going. Regardless of what Mother Nature dishes out, they hang in there and keep smiling all the time. Their smaller cousins the violas are just as playful and a delight to have in the garden. When it comes to durability in the garden, nothing beats a pansy.

Gardening tools - I am thankful for two-wheeled wheelbarrows, kneepads, back supports, SPF 50 clothing, mosquito repellents, Tilley hats, Hula Hoes, Cape Cod weeders and Hori-Hori knives, and all of the little gadgets that I use to make my gardening experience more enjoyable and productive.

Bulk compost - I am thankful for the companies that manufacture bulk (or bagged for that matter) compost from our food and yard wastes. They are providing us with an invaluable ingredient for successful gardening, along with helping the environment which benefits us all.

Finally, I am thankful for all of you fellow gardeners that are such good stewards of this planet we inhabit. Keep up the good work of nurturing your little plot of paradise and producing such beauty and nourishment for all of us to share and enjoy. Stay safe and keep on gardening!

Steve Smith is the owner of Sunnyside Nursery in Marysville, WA, and can be reached at

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