Larry Sagers Horticultural Specialist Utah State University Extension Service Thanksgiving Point Office © All Rights Reserved
This article is a reprint from my column in the Deseret Morning News.
If gardening, not shopping, is your favorite pastime, you might want to share this information with someone who will acquire your favorite gardening gifts for you. If you like gardening and a bit of shopping, your local nursery is an ideal place to get gifts for a garden junkie. Gardening is America's No. 1 outdoor hobby, so whether you're a gardener or are buying for a gardener, finding the perfect gift is a great pastime. For last-minute garden gift recommendations, I stopped in at the new Western Garden Center in West Valley City. The manager, Darren Hall, has worked for the company for 23 years selling garden supplies and plants. Hall grew up in the Granger area and is familiar with the local soil, water and microclimates. Christmas trees replace the plants in the store this time of year, and many of the garden supplies are overshadowed by Christmas decor. But there are many great gardening gifts, too. Hall's first piece of advice is for women. "I tell them look for anything that their husband has to borrow repeatedly and then buy him that as a gift." His own solution is to have two of all the common tools. "One set is for lending and the other is to get my work done."
Here are some of Hall's gift suggestions:
Pruners: "Most gardeners prefer scissor-type pruners to the anvil type," said Hall. "Anvil pruners (those with a blade on one side and a flat surface on the other) are faster to use but they do a little more damage to the plant as they tend to crush the stem instead of cutting it cleanly like scissor-type pruners."
Western Garden Centers sell quality brands that include Felco and Corona. Quality tools are made to last a lifetime. Don't let them get rusty. Don't cut down into the soil with them and never cut wire or abuse the tool, and they will be a part of your work for a lifetime. A good set of hand pruners is a little more expensive, but the price is well worth it.
Tools: Smaller homes and smaller gardens might not have the space for all the tools a gardener might want. For these, Hall recommends the "Wolf Garden" interchangeable garden tool set. It has handles that fit many different tool heads.
The longer handles accommodate rakes, hoes and even pole pruners, while the shorter handles have many other tool heads. All are guaranteed for life and are interchangeable with the Burpee and Scotts tools, two companies that formerly marketed this system.
Terra is another line of small, lighter-weight tools. They hold up well and are easy to use. Hall likes them because even though they are not as fancy as some other brands, they are perfect to work in and among small gardens. Garden knife or planting knife: These oriental tools are perfect for digging, planting, dividing perennials and many other garden tasks. Look for one that is a solid piece of steel so it will last well without breaking, suggests Hall.
Garden caddies (carts with a seat and a place to store tools): They let you sit down to plant and weed and help you keep track of all of the tools. The best ones have comfortable seats and nice, wide tires that roll easily.
House plants: Many different interior plants are available this time of year, but the amaryllis is among the most popular. The bulbs are easy to grow in almost any warm room in the home, and they come in a wide variety of colors, including red, white, pink and salmon. Bigger bulbs mean bigger flowers, so examine the size of the bulb. Fragrant paperwhites are another good gift suggestion.
Books: The three major publishers of popular-priced garden books are Ortho, Sunset and Taylor. They offer a wide variety of titles covering most garden subjects. Hall recommends them as gifts because they provide great reading during January and February.
"The three most popular subjects for us are vegetables, roses and herbs. We also carry many other books on specialty subjects." His own favorite is "Taylor's Guide to Fruits and Berries." He also likes the new Ortho "All About" series. They have all been rewritten and are much more readable than they once were, he said.
The popular "Sunset Western Garden Book" also has companion volumes of the "Sunset Western Landscape Book" and the "Sunset Garden Problem Solver."
For the birds: Other popular gifts are bird feeders, birdseed and birdbaths. Bird feeding is a popular hobby, and there are many Christmas gifts for those who want to indulge these feathery friends.
"Not everyone likes these gifts. Some gardeners have a hard time forgiving the birds that were stealing their produce just a few months ago," said Hall.
For those who are looking for something festive and easy, Hall suggested garden gift baskets. "These have an assortment of items. Some are filled with herbs, some are filled with smaller garden tools, some are filled with bird-feeding supplies or you can buy different garden gifts and make up your own."
If you cannot decide what your favorite gardener might want, buy them a gift certificate. "The closer it gets to Christmas, the more we sell," said Hall. "I work here, and I still like gift certificates because it helps indulge my garden passions."
Last-minute shopping is easy for that gardener on your list. The nurseries are easy to find, easy to shop at and have an abundance of good advice. Slide a few gifts under the tree that are going to make the world a better place by growing more beautiful plants.