Garden gifts: There's plenty to keep your plant-loving friends happy
This is the time of the year when panic starts setting in as the deadline looms to fulfill holiday gift lists. Luckily, gardeners are one of the easiest groups to buy for, a quick trip to the local nursery for 10 packs of seeds makes a great stocking stuffer for starters.
When trying to figure out what to buy for my gardening friends I usually start a thinly veiled conversation about the season, searching for things they are passionate about while pretending not to listen, and somehow it usually works.
Amaryllis bulbs are a foolproof way provide relief of garden cravings. They can be found locally, but some of the most interesting varieties come from White Flower Farm (whiteflowerfarm.com). ‘Rebecca' ($21) is an unusual fragrant variety with pretty pink flowers and white stripes. Stick the big bulb in a pot and enjoy the flowers in just a few weeks.
Seeds, and more seeds
One of the easiest items to check off the list is a gift certificate from a seed supplier, which allows the gardener to choose exactly what they want. High Mowing Seeds (highmowingseeds.com) offers a wide variety of certified organic seeds. Baker Creek Heirloom Seeds (rareseeds.com) will let your favorite gardener stretch by planting fascinating heritage cultivars, some of which have been grown for generations.
Help for pollinators
Pollinator gardening is important and finding a larger audience every year. There are many different ways to help the good bugs. Mason bees are native pollinators that nest in wood. The Mason Bee House from Gardener's Supply Company ($14.99, gardeners.com) can be hung in the garden and eventually will be filled with insects that are extremely proficient at moving pollen.
Winter offers respite from hard work in the garden which is fine for about a month until the yearning to grow something overwhelms gardeners. The Italian Herb Jar Kit from Wayside Gardens ($54, waysidegardens.com) is an easy way to create a windowsill herb garden. It includes three reusable self-watering jars, just add water and it won't be long until basil, parsley and oregano will be ready to harvest. Best of all, don't worry about monitoring moisture, as the jars are set up to provide exactly what the plants need.
Every year I recommend a pair of good pruners as a gift. That's because they often disappear in the heat of battle, forgotten next to the compost pile or under a layer of mulch. My favorites are Dramm ColorPoint pruners ($19.99, everybodygardens.com), both the Compact Shear for detail work and Compact Pruner for general pruning. The blades stay sharp for a long time, the colorful handles are ergonomic and easy to find when accidentally left in the garden. One of the tool's greatest attributes though is the locking mechanism which stays put in either open or closed position when cutting.
To keep pruners, shovels, hoes, trowels, loppers and other tools sharp, the AccuSharp tool ($13.98, everybodygardens.com) has been in my arsenal for over 30 years. It's great for kitchen knives, too. Putting a sharp edge on tools will make them easier, safer to use and help them last a lifetime.
The Power Planter Bulb Auger ($22.99, everybodygardens.com) is an indispensable planting tool, especially for spring and fall bulbs. Measuring 3 inches wide by 7 inches long, it's basically a giant drill bit used on any power drill that's perfect for working close to the ground. I've used augers for decades, but this one, with its hand-welded rugged steel shaft and non-slip hex drive is by far my favorite.
The sound of moving water is always something that's good in the garden. That could mean a little indoor fountain next to some houseplants or something bigger outdoors. Local nurseries offer both solar and electric versions.
Tips on container gardening
Fellow Trib columnist and my radio partner Jessica Walliser has just released “Container Gardening Complete: Creative Projects for Growing Vegetables and Flowers in Small Spaces” ($19.49, jessicawalliser.com) It's the most comprehensive book on the topic I've every seen. It's filled with unique ways to plant and create containers in the garden. Best of all it's a fun read that's also filled with great photos.
She also recently mentioned the Roo Apron ($32.95 rooapron.com) on the air (after a thinly veiled question). It has a pouch modeled after a kangaroo to hold harvested fruits, vegetables or debris when cleaning up the garden. Hopefully it will arrive at her house before this article is published.
And one more idea ...
I'll always remember the look on my son's kindergarten teacher when he announced excitedly, “we're going to get a truckload of manure,” when picking him up after his morning session. Now, that's a gift that will keep on giving. Getting a truckload of well-aged animal manure or compost delivered might have the neighbors scratching their heads, but your favorite gardener will jump for joy. Just remember to add a card explaining you'll help spread it on the garden.
Along those lines it might seem corny, but a homemade coupon book filled with helpful garden chores would be a welcome and fun gift too.
Doug Oster is editor of Everybody Gardens, a website operated by 535Media, LLC. Reach him at 412-965-3278 or email@example.com. See other stories, videos, blogs, tips and more at everybodygardens.com.