While winter is traditionally downtime for gardeners, it is also prime gift-giving season. That turns out to be a blessing actually. Shopping now means there will be plentiful choices and plenty in stock. And, perhaps best of all, when you give someone a garden-themed gift, you’re literally planting a seed of anticipation for springtime’s return.
Most gardeners have the basics of a trowel, shovel, clippers and rake but will happily welcome a practical, high-quality addition or an inspired upgrade. Here are my favorite gifts for gardeners…
The perfect gloves ($10 to $36). Every gardener dreams of a set of gardening gloves that fit and grip well…don and doff easily…don’t tear or leak…and don’t make hands sweat. I recommend the outstanding products at gardening-glove specialists. WestCountyGardener.com.
The best clippers are the ergonomically engineered, red-handled Felco pruners (about $50 to $80). They even have left-handed models. Order directly from the manufacturer for the widest selection and most complete information. Or you can find some models in catalogs and retail outlets. Felco.com
Japanese gardening scissors from Chikamasa (about $25) are sap-resistant, ergonomic and precision-trimming—harvesting and trimming will not damage or mash plant stems. Dazeys.com
A well-designed shovel spares the back and arms and makes digging in the garden a productive pleasure. The HERShovel ($69.49) is a revelation! Although the blade is ultra-durable tempered steel and the handle is strong ash, it’s lighter-weight and beautifully balanced compared to similar-size shovels. It comes in three sizes to match the user’s height and has an enlarged, nonslip step. The company’s tag line is “Garden and Farm Tools for Women,” although I’m sure a male recipient would also welcome one. GreenHeronTools.com
The “gardener’s kneeler” has been substantially improved in recent years. Truly sturdy sides are critical when you are raising and lowering yourself from the pad, which should be thick, durable and securely attached. The finest example is Gardener’s Supply Company’s Deep-Seat Garden Kneeler ($54.95), which is wide enough and strong enough to function as a seat when flipped over. Gardeners.com
Long-handled loppers are the tool you need for trimming and pruning shrubs and trees that require a long reach. A poorly designed tool can be a strain on the gardener as well as simply doing a bad job. A well-designed pair should have handles made out of steel (wood can snap) with nonslip grips and cutting blades of high-carbon steel. A.M. Leonard has Bahco professional heavy-duty loppers (about $150).
Starting seeds indoors truly is not complicated. Most seed companies offer a selection of simple “starter kits.” Park Seed’s Original Bio-Dome Seed Starting System ($34.95) is an especially worry-free choice because the individual planting plugs are formed from a compact sterile medium that sprouts the seeds and later transplants directly into the garden without intervening steps. ParkSeed.com
A gardening reference book. There are many to choose from, and a fresh crop every season, but I always return to Barbara Damrosch’s superb The Garden Primer ($24.95). She deftly navigates complex or confusing topics, anticipates common questions and always gives solid, sensible and 100%-organic advice.
A garden sanctuary. More gardeners are trying to landscape in a way that creates a haven for wildlife such as songbirds, butterflies and various pollinators—creatures that are increasingly endangered or impacted by habitat loss. A few suitable items would be a good sturdy birdbath…a hummingbird feeder (both widely available)…a house for insects (shown at right, BestNest.com, $39.99)…a bee house (KinsmanGarden.com, $59.95)…or a bat house (TeamWhiteHorse.com, $69.95 or $199.95). For any of these, confirm that the manufacturer has satisfactorily explained the features as well as proper placement and care.
A stand-alone trellis will always be welcomed. It doesn’t take up so much space that the already brimming yard of an experienced gardener couldn’t fit it in. And for the novice gardener, it’s a gratifying project for making a show out of easy flowering climbers such as morning glories or nasturtiums. Some fine choices may be found in the holiday-gift offerings from Kinsman Company, Gardener’s Supply Company and Plow & Hearth, but you also might peruse the creative ones found on etsy.com. Make sure whatever model you choose is made out of powder-coated steel, which is strong and resists corrosion. Expect to spend $80 to $100.
A cookbook that shows ways to prepare the harvest—vegetables, fruit, herbs and even edible flowers. Reality-TV stars The Beekman Boys have several cookbooks, such as A Seat at the Table: Recipes to Nourish Your Family, Friends and Community ($30). Recipes are clearly explained, the results are delicious, and each title is full of gorgeous photographs of both garden and table.
How about a sign? A garden sign, made of weather-tough materials, makes a fine gift. A classic is “Teri’s Garden” or “Welcome to Teri’s Garden.” I suggest ordering via etsy.com, where you will find many creative styles. Or get a more general sign, such as “Grandma’s Garden” or “The Secret Garden.” My favorite: “Ring Bell. If no answer, pull weeds!”