The Christmas shopping season is in full swing. Stores and online sites are bulging with every kind of extravagant item; the shopping channels are working 24/7 to help us part with our money; the “perfect gift” for every relative and friend is on display. I spent some time thumbing through my stack of gardening catalogs (my own version of “The Sears Wish Book”) seeking inspiration (as if I really needed any inspiration) for the gardeners among us.
Although givers may tend to restrict their garden-oriented gifts to the experienced gardener, it is a good thing to include children, newbie gardeners and those we would like to encourage to take up this satisfying activity.
Child-sized tools are easily found; I would, however, enjoy seeing children gifted with books to instill an understanding of our relationship with the earth, protecting the pollinators essential to our food chain and our flowers. A plant, potting soil and simple instructions can provide a splendid way to introduce a child to the world of horticulture and a love of watching things grow.
A recent speaker at a Calhoun County Master Gardener meeting suggested giving a non-gardener a container. (Include some potting soil for good measure.) The program demonstrated a variety of clever and unusual containers — including a toilet full of flowers. I am not suggesting we give toilets as holiday surprises, but it was truly creative. Gardening in a container is easy, relaxing and requires less space and less work. Add a book with lots of beautiful illustrations such as “Easy Gardens for the South.”
For the newbie gardener, there are many terrific choices. A Gorilla-brand garden cart makes moving tools or dumping debris fun. It puts me back to a time when I pulled a wagon loaded with toys around the yard.
A Felco pruner, my best friend in the garden, lasts forever. Many first-time gardeners might hesitate to purchase an expensive tool; good tools ease the gardeners work.
A gardener can never have too many hand trowels. Oxo makes great ones, complete with soft handles and engraved measurements to determine correct planting depth and spacing.
As I am always misplacing my spade and hate to spend valuable digging time looking for it, I have several. They invariably turn up, but an extra one never hurts.
Since we are talking about spacing plants, a measuring tape in is a useful gift. A good shovel, a lightweight rake, or a heavy-duty hose nozzle are also thoughtful gifts.
A general reference book such as “The Southern Living Gardening Book” is almost an essential for new gardeners. With good tools and good resources, a newbie gardener will soon be an experienced one.
A longtime gardener requires a bit more thought. Many in this group have been gardeners for so long we have accumulated more gardening “toys” than we can use. But there are still many gifts that can enrich the gardening experience.
A vest with a multitude of terrific pockets designed for gardening could certainly be handy.
A pair of rose gloves is a wonderful gift for anyone who prunes a bed of ‘Knockout’ roses every year. They protect hands and forearms so well there is nary a stick for this prickly task.
Many of my gardening friends have mentioned they have all the books they need or want to dust and are now donating them. Instead, a gardening app for their phones is a neat gift. If you are not sure which to choose, a gift certificate from iTunes works. These apps can help someone identify a plant, get planting information or just enjoy learning in a new form. The Alabama Extension Office has an app for our area.
Most gardeners never seem to have enough gloves. There is a different glove for every chore. For winter gardening, a pair that is water-resistant as well as warm would be a treat.
Even the wisest gardeners might benefit from “Manual of Woody Landscape Plants” by Michael Dirr. It is a heavy book with no pretty pictures, but it is used as textbook in college level horticulture classes and contains a wealth of knowledge.
Sunscreen, insect repellant, a floppy hat with sun protection, insect-repellent socks or a holder to carry a water bottle are all useful gifts for a gardener of any age or experience.
Please do not purchase an actual landscape plant as a present for someone else. It is essential to know which ones will thrive in their growing conditions and fit in with their available space. A gift certificate to an online or brick-and-mortar garden shop is a better solution.
If you are at a complete loss as to what to get the gardener on your list, a donation of a brick paver at Longleaf Botanical Gardens is a forever and meaningful remembrance.
Whether we are encouraging a child or a senior citizen to be involved with the wonderful world of plants, we all benefit from their efforts.
Sherry Blanton writes about gardening for The Anniston Star. Contact her at firstname.lastname@example.org.