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Gifts For Gardeners Who Have EverythingGifts For Gardeners Who Have Everything
Another holiday shopping season is upon us, bringing the age-old dilemma of deciding what to buy that special someone who loves gardening.
What do you get the gardener who has everything?
The easiest thing that comes to mind is a nice gift card to the local garden center. Every gardener will be buying seeds and fertilizer for the spring crop, so a gift card might come in handy. There are tools that need replacing, too, and maybe a few other necessities and gadgets.
It might behoove you to check out the tool shed to see if a hoe, rake or spade is in disrepair. This is the perfect time to give a new garden tool to replace the one with the handle held together by tape or nails or broken off so short that only your 3-year-old grandson could use it.
There are all types of weeding gadgets on the market, too. And various three-piece hand tool sets normally include a trowel, garden fork, and cultivator. And what about personal protection gear, such as a new pair of gloves or a pair of coveralls? What about a wide-brimmed hat or one with a covering attached to protect the ears and neck? This keeps your special gardener from being exposed to too much sunshine.
What about something to make gardening more ergonomic?
A nice set of kneepads, a kneeling pad or a gardening stool all are useful for any of that close-to-the-ground work. In fact, one gardening tool is made to wear. It attaches to the gardener with a harness and allows hands-free movement around the garden. Coil spring on the bottom cushions the seat and allows the gardener to plop down just about anywhere.
Inevitably, dry weather will return, so how about a new garden hose or sprinkler? Kits are available for less than $100 to set up drip irrigation in the garden. Drip irrigation is more efficient. It helps reduce diseases by keeping the foliage dry while providing moisture right at the soil surface.
Does your gardener use compost?
A plethora of composting aids is available, from simple wire mesh bins to polyurethane compost tumblers made from recycled plastic. There are collapsible bins, food composting containers, biodegradable composting bags, compost thermometers, choppers, turners and even books on how to do it. Finally, consider a rain barrel to collect natural irrigation water, a garden cart for transport or maybe some hand lotion for the end of the day. Don’t forget the post-harvest gifts, such as salad choppers, pressure canners, and freezer containers.
Gifts That Feed A Grower’s Love
Sure, you could get your friends with green thumbs more plants, but they might not be the most meaningful gifts. Instead, try putting together a little package deal, perhaps a book and a plant. Or you can go for the gusto. Just about any plant that a gardener falls in love with probably has an organization of those similarly obsessed. Membership to such a group makes a great gift.
If frilly ferns spark her ardor, buy a membership to the American Fern Society. If roses float his boat, there’s the American Rose Society. Are orchids the source of their ardor? Join the American Orchid Society. Does she have a compulsion for cactus and succulents? You guessed it – the Cactus and Succulent Society of America. What if your gardener loves all plants? The American Horticultural Society should cover it. All of these societies offer regular publications along with membership. Some are a little esoteric, but others might be just what a jaded gardener wishes for.
Almost all of these plant societies walk the line between the hobby-grower and the scientist. This is because many of them also publish journals that offer a place where new botanical discoveries can be published, a necessary step in the naming of new species.
For example, the most recent issue of the Cactus and Succulent Journal, the cactus society’s quarterly, has an article on new Christmas cactus hybrids. You have to already be obsessed with these plants to enjoy that journal, which also comes with a newsletter called To the Point, which has information on buying seed and articles on growing different kinds of these plants. Some of these societies also have spectacular gardens that can be toured. The American Orchid Society maintains a public garden in Florida, and the American Rose Society has one in Louisiana.
The finest cactus and succulent collection in the country can be found at the Huntington Botanical Garden near Los Angeles. For palm enthusiasts, there is the Fairchild Botanical Garden in Coral Gables, Fla. Combine a membership with a gift plant or gift certificate from a mail-order nursery or a trip to a garden, and you’ll have only yourself to blame when your mate begins to toss out the furniture to make room for more plants.
Another thoughtful gift would be a membership to a local public garden, a gift certificate to the garden’s store or a nursery. North Carolina is rich in public gardens, and many of them have special activities and plant-sale previews that are open only to members. Members also generally get advance notice of trips, tours, and classes. There are local plant societies as well. The Winston Salem Rose Society has an active membership. Bundling a gift certificate to a rose nursery and a membership to the society would make a nice gift. There’s also N.C. Bonsai Society, which meets at Miller Park.
Plenty of great holiday gifts available for gardeners
The most useful gardening gifts that I received last Christmas were a kneeling pad and “Gloves in a Bottle.” Like many gardeners, I begin digging, planting and pruning wearing a sturdy pair of garden gloves. But before 10 minutes have passed, the gloves are off. Most gardeners like the feel of the soil on their bare hands — a fact that might be good for the soul, but hard on the hands and nails.
Liquid “Gloves in a Bottle” forms on the outer layer of skin cells to protect against irritants and to prevent stains and odors from penetrating past the surface of the skin. It’s non-toxic and odor-free. I apply it like hand lotion and wash it off when I’ve finished gardening. It’s available locally.
When I plant, I kneel. That’s why my husband, Larry, scored big time with a super-soft knee cushion that is molded to fit and support the knees. It’s lightweight, is washable and made of polyurethane. Larry found it in the Gardener’s Supply catalog. I’ve checked off a few more items in their holiday catalog that I’m wishing for this year. The garden rest stop for butterflies and dragonflies is a beautiful glass flower on a 360-inch spike that holds water. I placed it in the gardening gift near butterfly weed. I’d like more of their classy copper markers too. These come with a ballpoint pen that will engrave your plants pedigree permanently.
Gardeners Edge has the most unusual birdhouses I’ve ever seen. They are replicas of authentic hats, crafted of durable cold-cast porcelain and hand painted. There are two styles, the “Lady Gardner” looks like a real straw hat, and the “Nostalgic Fisherman” hat is complete with flies. They are 14 inches in diameter, with a cleanout hole in the back, a drain hole, and hanger.
Gardeners Edge has a collection of insect repellent apparel that includes a “Butterfly Bandana,” a “Sun Bucket Hat” and a “Khaki Buzz Off” hat. All have insect repellent finish that repels flies, ticks, mosquitoes, chiggers, and midges. They’re odorless and the repellent lasts through 25 items of washing. Many greenhouse gardeners depend on Charley’s Greenhouse and gardening gift for supplies. They have a large selection of plant lights for those dark, gloomy days; exhaust fans, thermostats and all manner of pots and trays.
And what does the greenhouse gardener do in the greenhouse in winter? We propagate. My holiday gift for myself is more Dip-n-Grow, an easy-rooting solution, and Snip n’ Dip, a professional rooting powder that comes in three strengths: easy to propagate, woody and semi-woody, and difficult. Also available is an organic seed starter that is guaranteed highest germination and no damp-off — the killer disease that destroys young seedlings.
You don’t have to be a gardener to appreciate a gift of a flowering plant. There are many traditional holiday plants available locally or you can order them to be delivered. White Flower Farm has spring-flowering bulb collections in baskets that need only light, water and warm temperatures to fill your room with the color and scent of narcissus, tulips, and hyacinths.
Sophisticated gardeners love unusual houseplants, especially to give as gifts. Look for odd-shaped cactus or succulents that will surprise the recipient with sudden summer flowering, or a clivia that will bloom in late winter. A friend who lives in an apartment or an assisted living home might appreciate a tabletop tree. There are rosemary plants shaped as trees at local gardening gift centers. You can decorate with lightweight decorations of tiny balls and a ribbon garland. Write a card with simple directions on how to care for the rosemary tree: “Make sure not to give the rosemary tree too much water. Allow to dry out between waterings. Do not feed your plant in winter.”
Gardening gift books are to gardeners as cookbooks are to cooks — you can’t have too many. Two that I’ve enjoyed this year are “Wild Orchids of South Carolina” by James Alexander Fowler (University of South Carolina Press), a truly beautiful book for orchid growers and nature lovers of all ages, and “Garden Perennials for the Coastal South” by Barbara J. Sullivan (University of North Carolina Press), with great photos and this section: “The Best and Worst Plants for Coastal Gardens.”