I don’t know about you, but the actual getting-gifts-for-people part of Christmas kind of crept up on me, and I’m scurrying to find or make just the right thing for everyone I love.
Gardeners can be hard to shop for, because so many people give us gifts that look pretty, but aren’t really that useful or inspiring to real, down-in-the-dirt gardeners. Trust me on this, most gardeners have their own set of inexpensive hand tools and general-interest gardening books. So what to get for that beloved gardener on your list?
I was delighted to get this classy, gorgeous calendar a few days ago. Photographer and Radiologist Stephen Meyers uses x-ray photography to capture these translucent images of flowers, which are then hand-colored.
Usually garden calendars have pictures of actual gardens, so if the photos are cottage gardens and we’re more the wild-foliage-combos type, it can be easy to get a really pretty gift that we won’t actually like. But I can’t imagine the gardener that wouldn’t love this. There are also ghostly, uncolored notecards.
The Speedy Sharp is one of those rare gardening tools that nobody knows about, but everyone who sees mine in action wants one. If you’ve used a hand file to sharpen your pruning tools, you know it’s kind of a pain and takes forever to get a good blade edge going. The Speedy Sharp is only $10, fits in your pocket easily, and is great for keeping the shears sharp through the pruning season. Check out my review and video tutorial on how to sharpen your pruners using a Speedy Sharp.
Kneeling pads are a bit like gloves; we know we should be using them to protect ourselves, but it’s hard to find a pair that are unobtrusive enough to keep gardening fun. Enter the Knee Benz. These things are made with awesome foam padding – it’s like kneeling on a pillow! – and the neoprene straps are stretchy enough that you can strap them on tight. They stay on with minimal shifting, and don’t cut off circulation. And they’re machine-washable. These aren’t the longest-lasting knee pads ever (try Kneelons for that!), but they’ll get your gardening friends started protecting their knees, and later they can seek out heftier options if they use them a lot.
By now everyone’s heard about the Hori-Hori, or “diggy-diggy” in Japanese. It’s basically a sturdy knife meant for digging in soil, and if your favorite gardener’s been using a trowel, this will be a happy education for them. The blade is straight and flat, not cupped like the trowel, and has a sharply bladed side for slicing through soil, and a serrated side for cutting landscape fabric or bound roots while planting.
My preferred Hori-Hori? The shiny Green Top Stainless Steel one shown above. It’s sharper, lighter-weight, prettier, and slightly longer than the standard version. I’ve had mine for three years and it’s still serving me well.
Most nurseries are still selling the standard Carbon Steel version (shown at right), which has a black blade and is rather heavy. I don’t like this one as well because my wrists get tired using it, and mud clings to the porous metal and wood surfaces more than with the sleek stainless version. It’s worth ordering online to get the good one.
Books are a great choice, if they are meaty enough for a real enthusiast. I try to get books that have just come out to be sure that my gift-ee doesn’t own them yet! My two recommendations?
Planthropology: The Myths, Mysteries, and Miracles of My Garden Favorites by Ken Druse – all of Ken’s books are dog-eared and sorry after only a few months with me – I just love his writing style. In this latest (November ‘08), he tells us our plants’ secrets – from stories of the explorers who collected them, to unraveling the mysteries of our plants’ interactions with bees and other pollinators. Fantastic rainy-day reading.
Timber Press Guide To Gardening in the Pacific Northwest by Carol and Norman Hall – after the Sunset Western Garden book, which everyone already has, this is the best reference for gardening in our climate. It came out in September, so it’s a fair bet that few people own it, and it’s exhaustive enough that even a snoot-in-the-air know-it-all like me shut up and read it for many days straight. Garden writer Amy Stewart wrote an excellent review here.
I hope this gives you some last-minute gift ideas for the gardeners you love (or some idea on how to spend those gift certificates you get in your own stocking!).
What are you all hoping to receive this year?