Christmas Gifts for the Gardener

Phillip Peters
Adams County Master Gardener

If you have a gardener on your shopping list, finding an exciting holiday gift couldnít be easier. An endless array of presents in all price categories is available at garden centers and on line. Think outside of the box. Gardeners are always in need of things that the rest of us may not consider great gift choices. Letís take a look.

Start with tools. Especially if your someone is new to gardening, the most important possession is high quality equipment. Spades, shovels, hoes, etc. are essential and they can last a lifetime or more if you spend the money to purchase quality. The working edge and socket should be forged of one piece of carbon steel. I think wood, ash or beech, still provides the most comfortable handle. I gave my niece and her husband a stainless steel spade, shovel and fork as a wedding present! (I checked with her mom before ordering.) And, yes, they thanked me profusely.

Pruning shears, a nice trowel, a gardening knife, kneeling pads or a rolling seat are always appreciated. Tools with ergonomic shapes are especially helpful for the older gardener or someone who needs the extra leverage they provide. Every gardener appreciates a high quality watering can. Get one with a removable rosette (the screened nozzle end) that can be easily cleaned. And flower pots - the gardener can never have too many.

Put together a goody Ďbasketí. Start with a nice rubber garden trug (like a basket, but sturdier) and fill it with useful odds and ends: a nice pair of gloves, a big ball of twine, plant markers and a permanent magic marker, brushes to clean pots, a gardenerís apron or tool belt, etc. A bright pot could be substituted for the trug.

Membership in a gardening society is a personal gift that offers many rewards. A gift membership in the American Horticultural Society opens up a world of advantages available only to members. Membership in more specific plant societies puts the gardener in contact with others who share similar interests. There are societies for almost every interest: cactus, roses, peonies, bromeliads, you name it. These groups are always happy to have interested members. The best way to find one is to go online and enter the appropriate interest in the search line. Contact information will be forthcoming. Membership allows one to attend annual conferences and often includes excellent publications.

Magazine subscriptions are valuable. Horticulture is a quality magazine that will appeal to every gardener. Garden Gate is a particularly helpful guide, especially for the new gardener. It gives beautiful, detailed garden designs with accompanying plant lists appropriate for specific areas of the country or certain garden conditions, and instructions for creating the garden. Garden Design may appeal to the gardener who takes design seriously. Most of the societies mentioned above produce highly commendable magazines, so membership is a "two-fer".

You canít go wrong with a book. Look in the discount stores or on the bookstoreís discount shelves; youíll find an incredible number of beautiful selections.

How about a nice plant? Many garden centers offer a selection of bulbs that can be forced indoors to brighten the winter doldrums. An amaryllis is easy to grow and rewards the gardener with gorgeous blooms. And the bulb can be set out in the summer to regain its strength and then, allowed to dry out in September and repotted in January to bloom again. You can even find Plant-of-the-Month selections where the gardener will receive a new plant every month for as long as you wish the subscription to last, i.e., a quarter, six months, etc.

You can also offer to purchase a prized plant for the garden. Buying it from a reputable plant supplier will ensure a plant that has gotten a solid start in life and that will be delivered to the gardener at the proper time for planting accompanied with all the necessary instructions for guaranteed success. Check with the gardener first, though, as this is an investment.

And if you really want to be remembered long after the holidays are over, get your gardener something that will be a centerpiece in the garden. I am talking about a big item, a trellis, or birdbath, a statue, or a nice garden bench or some garden furniture. Make sure your gift complements the garden. You donít want to contribute an eyesore your gardener will not appreciate, or might even detest. Be aware that not all gardeners want to receive this type of gift, so you would be wise to make sure the receiver wants what you are going to purchase. When my daughter-in-law said she wanted a concrete bench for their garden, we made sure to find out exactly which bench she wanted and then purchased that one.

So get something useful and original for your gardener. Who knows? You might even get hooked on gardening. Now, where can I leave this where my wife will see it?

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