Holiday Gifts for the Gardener

Mary Ann Ryan
Adams County Master Gardener

It’s that time of year again! What do I get for gifts? Here is a wealth of ideas from a few of our Penn State Extension gardeners. And, if, by chance, you know any Master Gardener and wandering what to do, this may just be the list you were looking for this holiday season!

Seed starting kits: This is a great gift for gardeners who like to start their own plants. There are also kits where you can grow herbs from seed to harvest. Heat mats are great as well since this makes seed starting so much easier.

The obvious – Plants! A fruit tree that is the favorite variety of that friend or family member may be just the thing they are looking for. Does the person like wine? Consider giving a couple of wine grape vines. Is the gardener a baker? Brambles, like raspberries or blackberries, or ground covers like strawberries may be just the perfect gift. Who knows, the recipient may even share a pie or bottle of wine with you some day.

Pollinator friendly plants, like Clethra alnifolia, also make a great gift. The plant can be purchased now and delivered in the spring to the recipient directly from the nursery. Plants are a gift that the person will enjoy for many years to come. Is he/she a butterfly gardener? How about coneflowers or butterflyweed to add to their garden in the spring?

Houseplants: Many gardeners not only enjoy plants on the outside, but like plants on the inside as well. If you know the environment that plants will be growing, stop at a garden center and see what’s available. This time of year you can always pick up a Norfolk Island Pine or peace lily; both are very easy to grow, and a great gift idea for the gardener. How about bulbs like amaryllis or paperwhites? These can be enjoyed through the winter months – or – there are programs where you can have blooming plants delivered right to their home each month for the gardener to enjoy indoors!

Other blooming plants like cyclamen, Christmas cactus and poinsettias are always a sure thing to give at the holidays. Looking online for care of these plants and attaching the directions to the plant is a great idea if the gardener is a beginner to the indoor plant world.

What about herbs? Growing herbs indoors can be quite a challenge, but gardeners are often looking for that challenge. If the gardener is a cook, this may be just the thing for them!

Tools: Does the person you are shopping for have by-pass clippers? They are preferred over the type that clamp together, sometimes bruising the stem you are cutting. Any kind of tool is always appreciated. I have a dandelion digger - a long skinny forked metal blade on a handle. It gets lots of use. Another great tool is a lawn rake where the tines collapse to make a very narrow rake; you can get in between your plants with one of these.

Garden Art: How about a sun-dial or other garden ornament? If you are thinking bigger, maybe the gardener would like a trellis, bird-house, bird bath, some comfortable lawn furniture, or even a water garden or water garden accessories.

Cozy Necessities: Does the gardener own some good garden gloves? If they do any rough work like pruning roses, they may want some with a heavy cuff that goes almost to the elbow. Even if they already have a pair, more than one is always appreciated. Personally I have an ambition to have some of those garden shoes that slip on easily and you can just hose them off. Many of us like those foam kneeling pads or knee pads; they make the gardening hours much more comfortable.

A Truck: Not a real truck, (although I’m pretty sure that wouldn’t be turned down) but one of those light weight 2-wheel jobs, that are so much easier to pull or push than a wheel-barrow. Our wheel-barrow is so heavy and hard to push that I can hardly move it when it is empty, but the garden truck that my husband fixed up for me is very easy to use. It has a bar handle and you can push or pull, depending on your needs.

Tool Caddy: The one I have fits over a five-gallon bucket. There are pockets on the inside and outside. I think it was designed for a carpenter's tools, but works great for gardening. No more wondering where I might have left my favorite trowel.

Containers: Those of us who have very little space really appreciate growing plants in containers. Although I may not be able to put an arrangement in a lovely container on my deck until next spring, I would be delighted to receive a nice pot or other container for Christmas. Hanging baskets, window boxes or seedling trays are some other container ideas.

Garden Calendar: I have sat at my desk and enjoyed a beautiful calendar that I received last year. Each month the flower pictures seem more attractive. Many of these garden calendars also have suggestions for what needs to be done in the garden each month of the year.

Hand Lens: For the gardeners out there who really get into the botany of gardening, a hand lens might be just the thing to examine the fine respects of a plant.

Subscriptions: One way to give a gift so the receiver will think of you with each issue, is to give a subscription to a magazine. Most gardeners enjoy magazines about gardening or attracting birds, butterflies, or other wildlife to our gardens. Your local extension offices also have publications like Growing Vegetables, Fruit Production for the Home Gardener or Herbs for the Home Gardener for a nominal fee.

Gift Certificates: You can obtain gift certificates at any nursery or store that sells gardening supplies. Then the recipient can go and pick out whatever he or she needs. It's such fun to into a store and know that you have the equivalent of money that just must be spent.

Another type of gift certificate is a "promise" type. Can you take your gardener friend to Longwood Gardens or some other lovely public garden? That would be something us garden lovers would look forward to with excitement! Or how about a "promise" to help with spring planting or some other garden chore throughout the season, or a truck full of compost or mulch? Every gardener needs a little compost in their life, any time of year.

And here’s an "out of the box" idea – if you are one of those people that exchange gifts prior to Christmas, what about gifting a Christmas tree? A live tree would be great for the gardener in your life as they can plant it outdoors after the season, so not only are you thought of during the decorating of the tree and throughout the season, but you will be thought of every day as the tree grows after planting! Or take the gardener on a "cut your own" trip and enjoy together what the season has in store.

So take these ideas and run with them! Hopefully this is a good start to opening up the door to some great gardening gifts. Any gardener would envy the person that receives something from this list!

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