Grab the kids and celebrate Father’s Day at your local garden center this weekend. You’ll certainly find a treasure worthy of adding to your landscape, and picking it out together will make it even more special. (Getty Images)

Grab the kids and celebrate Father’s Day at your local garden center this weekend. You’ll certainly find a treasure worthy of adding to your landscape, and picking it out together will make it even more special. (Getty Images)

Dads dig plants, too. This Father’s Day, find a gift to grow his garden

From maples and conifers to fountains, statuaries and tools, garden centers offer a diversity of gifts both fun and useful.

By Trevor Cameron / The Golfing Gardener

One of best things about being a dad is spending time with your kids, especially when sharing a personal passion with them. In my case, that means gardening. Just like moms on Mother’s Day, we dads also enjoy plants, flowers and gardening.

Helping your kids find love and respect for everything in nature is essential, and enjoying time together outdoors is a great way to do that. Pulling the modern child away from a screen can be challenging, but after some gentle coaxing, and sometimes simple bribery, you can get your kids outside and into the garden.

All father figures are a bit different, of course, but in my 30-plus years running garden centers, I’ve learned what dads tend to gravitate toward in the garden center. Here’s a look at a few of those things:

Japanese maples: These trees can be found in all shapes, sizes and styles — kind of like father figures, right? From weeping laceleafs to tall, stately specimens, there is one or more guaranteed to catch his fancy. Out of space, like me? Get him a sturdy, frost-proof pot to plant his new treasure in. The more pots the merrier, says this gardener, as there is always room for just one more somewhere.

Dwarf conifers: Slow-growing and colorful, dwarf conifers of varying textures make wonderful additions to any garden setting that has some sun and good drainage. There are many worthy candidates to explore, offering different shades of green, bright yellows, blues, and even some that will turn bright colors in colder winter months.

Statuary: A unique piece of garden art is an excellent way for any father figure to advertise their own style in the landscape. You can find beautiful garden art at many garden centers, especially long-lasting metal or cast stone pieces. Fun and even whimsical pieces can be found to match any dad’s taste. Maybe a bench with a trophy fish design for the fisherman? A pagoda for a Japanese themed garden? Perhaps a fun face that makes him smile whenever he sees it? A cool bird bath or bird house to enjoy? A huge golf ball for a golfing dad (yes, I have three of these)?

Fountains: Simply put, nothing is more peaceful than the sound of water in your outdoor spaces. By adding a stunning water feature like a fountain, you are sure to please any dad, and the entire family for that matter. Fountains are easy and durable, and many these days have modern LED lighting built right in, as well as power-efficient, magnet-driven pumps. Shop around with dad for one he likes and help him set it up on the patio, deck, porch or in the landscape. The sound and action of the water will mesmerize all who see it and attract desirable wildlife, like hummingbirds.

Tools: We always need a good tool to help make projects easier in the garden. It’s a gift made even better when the children offer to help dad, right? Check out his stash and see what’s missing, or which ones have been “well loved” and need to be replaced. Quality pruners, a pocket saw, a Hori Hori garden knife or a good sharpener are all things a gardening dad would love. Perhaps even a super useful shovel like the Root Slayer from Radius — a must have for any digging project. There is always a digging fork as well, an easy tool I wish all gardeners used.

Trees and shrubs: There are some great trees and shrubs that are blooming around Father’s Day. It might be fun to head to the local garden center and pick out a plant with dad, something that will grow and mature, like kids do, and remind everyone with its flowers, year after year, that Father’s Day is here. Korean dogwoods, Japanese snowbells, hydrangeas, roses and many other June-bloomers could be planted in honor of Father’s Day.

As a dad of two great young boys, I hope my non-stop chattering about plants, insects and soils sinks in, leaving them with green thumbs they can pass on to their children someday, just as my dad did for me many moons ago.

Free class

Sunnyside Nursery in Marysville will host “Pruning in Summer” at 10 a.m. on Saturday, June 15. For more information or to sign up, go to

Trevor Cameron is a certified professional horticulturist (CPH) and serves as general manager for Sunnyside Nursery in Marysville. He can be reached at

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