Spotlight Columns

Grow for it! Ode to dads

Sarah Preiss-Farzanegan, M.D.
Master Gardener of El Dorado County

As Father’s Day 2014 approaches, I feel a sliver of anxiety at the thought of picking out yet another gift for my dad. What is the best way to show my love and appreciation for the man who taught me how to drive, how to get back up and “brush it off,” how to make pancakes and how to give the best hugs ever? This is my daunting annual task and I am certain I am not alone. So I did what I always do when I am in need of inspiration: research!

The concept of Father’s Day was created, and first observed, in the early 20th century to complement Mother’s Day. I was not surprised to learn that industries like tie-making and tobacco companies were early and steadfast supporters of this holiday, seeing as they would benefit the most from its inception. These industries fought long and hard until President Lyndon B. Johnson’s presidential proclamation in 1966 declared the third Sunday in June as Father’s Day; it was made an official holiday by President Richard Nixon in 1972.

Since then, every June Americans have been showering fathers and father figures with all sorts of stereotypical gifts: neckties, mugs, pencil holders, golf balls, bar accessories, tools, grills, pens and so on. I, for one, am ready for some fresh Father’s Day gift ideas! As a Master Gardener, I freely admit to my bias toward all things vegetative, so naturally my investigation began with querying how to create a thoughtful plant-based gesture for Father’s Day.

Indoor plants brighten up any home or office space, add oxygen to the air and remove toxins from it. In general, most gentlemen are drawn to clean, sharp lines and bold, bright colors. Plants like aloe vera, bromeliad, jade and Peace lilies (Spathiphyllum) fit this description — and are fairly easy to care for (bonus!). When considering an indoor plant, take into account the lighting of the space (natural vs. fluorescent), the level of care needed to keep the plant healthy, the purpose of the plant in that space (to brighten, add color, etc.), the budget and the space available for the plant. The following plants are dependable choices for an indoor environment: ivy, philodendron, peace lilies, spider plants, aroid palm, dragon trees and wave petunias. It is beyond the scope of this article to detail the characteristics of each plant, so here is an opportunity for you to do some research of your own!

A citrus tree (lemon or lime perhaps) would make a great gift if your honored guy is fairly adept with outdoor plants. Be sure to protect these varieties from overly cold weather in winter or on cold nights by covering them or by planting them in a container that can be brought indoors when necessary. Another creative outdoor option is a container herb garden. Just pick a suitable container, fill it with his favorite herbs and place it in a convenient location for adequate (not excessive) sun exposure, accessibility for watering and proximity to the kitchen, grill or table.

While these are all great ideas, I encourage you to maintain perspective. When I asked my dad to tell me about his favorite Father’s Day ever, he told me, “Every year is special because having two amazing daughters is the best gift ever.” On the third Sunday this June feel free to celebrate the amazing fathers in your life in a personal and creative fashion. Make something, do something, buy something if you must and just spend time making them feel special. I hope you find inspiration in one of these ideas or at least the inspiration to go out and create something incredible of your own! We would love to hear about and see your ideas on our UCCE Master Gardeners of El Dorado County Facebook page this month! (

Master Gardeners are available to answer home gardening questions at local farmers markets, and Tuesday through Friday, 9 a.m. to noon, by calling (530) 621-5512. Walk-ins are welcome at our office, located at 311 Fair Lane in Placerville. For more information about our public education classes and activities, go to our Master Gardener website at Sign up to receive our online notices and e-newsletter at

Special to Village Life


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