For those looking for a gift for a gardener friend or family member, the following suggestions should help you make a wise decision. Be aware that a good gift doesn't need to cost much and each gardener's personal tastes and gardening methods should be taken into consideration when choosing. There are some snobby gardeners out there, but most of us aren't.
At the top of my list is a good hat. Granted, we can be vain and picky about our wardrobe and selecting the perfect headgear is important, but if your gardener doesn't wear a hat they should. The sun can be very damaging and my own skin cancer attests to the worst-case scenario. A wide-brim hat needs to be on every gardener's head. A gifted hat can change the way they garden and could save their life.
|My favorite gardening hat|
On a lighter note, the gift I always look for in my Christmas stocking is a nice pair of leather gloves. While I enjoy the feel of warm soil on my fingers, I wear gloves for most of my gardening tasks. Digging, weeding, constructing, and clearing brush are all tasks that are made easier while wearing gloves. I will buy a three-pack of cheap cloth or cloth-leather gloves for a few bucks, but laying down a couple sawbucks for a nice leather pair doesn't happen often. When I have a good set I'll use them until they're worn out. That's why I hope for a new pair at Christmas each year.
|These gloves have seen better days|
My shed and garage are filled with garden tools, but most of them are still the ones I bought when I first began gardening years ago. And back then I didn't really know what I was doing so cheap tools seemed a good choice. I still make do with hand tools that have broken handles, bent spines, or dull edges. It makes sense to buy new ones, but that's too much effort. A gift isn't any effort at all.
Pruners are a good example of a tool that many gardeners need upgraded. There are many wonderful hand pruners that are ergonomically designed with cushioned handles. Deadheading and small pruning chores are easier when the tool is comfortable. A little information about a gardener's personal preference can help when choosing hand pruners. There are basically two kinds: bypass and anvil. While each type has its purpose and usefulness, some gardeners have a clear preference. For pruning live plants, I prefer bypass pruners because I think anvil pruners can damage plant stalks and stems. Luckily many stores sell hand pruners with both types packaged together.
|Bypass pruners with uncomfortable handles|
Trowels are another common gardening tool that may need an upgrade. A good quality hand trowel can last a lifetime, but few of us have one. I have different trowels and they all have problems. My favorite, with a nice, wide, padded handle, was discovered by Lily the Lab when she was a puppy; the handle is now chewed up. On another, the wood handle has separated from the metal blade and I spend as much time sticking the two pieces together as I do digging in the soil. A sturdy, ergonomic trowel would be nice to have. There are skinny trowels and wide trowels and they all have a use.
|Trowels are a must have|
I discovered a wonderful weeder years ago and remarkably I'm the only gardener I know who owns one. It's a stirrup hoe, also called a Hula Hoe. It's amazingly easy to use and removes small weeds below the soil surface. Every year I use it when weeds begin to sprout. It eliminates most of them before they become a problem. It's a tool I think every gardener should own.
|A stirrup hoe is great|
Another nice tool is a dandelion weeder. It has a forked tongue on a long, narrow spine designed to dig along the root of dandelions and pull out the entire plant. It works. You can find them with handles long enough to use while standing, but I prefer the hand-size ones. They are great for dandelions and many other long-rooted weeds. Every gardener should have one.
|Dandelion weeders work well|
Many other garden items are nice to have, but seldom purchased by the gardener. I'm always in need of plant markers. Galvanized metal ones with zinc or copper nameplates are very attractive, but I haven't purchased many because they're a bit extravagant. I own a few, but find myself using cheap aluminum or plastic ones. If I had more of the fancy ones I'd use them.
|Cheap plant tags don't always look good|
Plant ties are similar. A twist of twine is all that's needed to hold a plant to a stake, but I recently saw Velcro plant ties. They're reusable, strong, and a great idea. For a gardener who wants a fancier plant tie than twine, Velcro could be the answer.
The simplest items can be the most useful. I never seem to have enough staples in my garden. I'm talking about the galvanized metal staples that are six or eight inches long. I use them to hold bird netting, soaker hoses, and plastic row covers in place. By the end of the season many of them "just disappear." Very inexpensive, they're a wonderful stocking stuffer.
|Good staples are hard to find|
I tend to think that a gardener can't have too many bird feeders. While some gardeners don't want birds in their garden, I do. I have hummingbird feeders, and suet feeders, and seed feeders. Especially in winter, birds can use the thoughtfulness of a gardener who supplies free food. Bird feeders can be simple or fancy and in all cases can be a nice gift.
|Decorative bird feeders look nice|
I love garden art, and I do think that is one thing there can be too much of in a garden. But a few tasteful pieces can be fun and add character to a garden. Last year my wife got me a nice, welded iron, tricycle plant stand. It blends nicely with the other scattered pieces of art in my landscape and I think of her every time I see it.
|A welcome gift|
There are many catalogs and stores brimming over with wonderful gift ideas for gardeners, but it’s often hard to choose the right gift. The suggestions above are just some of the useful garden items that make my gardening experience better and can make your holiday shopping easier. Gardeners aren't hard to buy for and we'll accept anything useful in the garden.