In the Garden:
Upper South
December, 2009
Regional Report

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What will you or your favorite gardener find under the Christmas tree this year?

The Gardener's Wish List

From my perspective, gift shopping for gardeners is so very, very easy. Be there a gardener anywhere who could not use extra tools? So even if you've put off buying for the gardeners in your life, or maybe still working on your own wish list, here are some ideas for gardening gifts that are easily found at home improvement stores and garden centers.

Tools Without a Engine
Know someone with arthritis? There are several lines of hand tools, including Natural Radius Grip, that make trowels, weeders, and cultivators specially designed for people with arthritis in their hands. These are ergonomically designed to ease the stress on joints. And while we're on the subject of arthritis, also consider one of the kneeler/sitter benches for help getting up and down from the ground. My own favorite trowel-like tool is a variation on the Japanese hori-hori weeding knife. Mine comes with a holster that I clip on a pocket. I use it to weed, plant, and cut roots and consider it indispensable.

Garden spading forks and shovels come in all shapes, sizes, and price ranges. For my money, nothing compares with the Fiskar line of tools. I have several each of the spading forks as well as the round- and square-nosed shovels. They are powder-coated, all-steel construction for heavy-duty durability and rust prevention with the blade or fork welded to the shaft for additional strength, plus they have an oversized step that provides a secure and comfortable platform for your foot allowing you to use your stronger leg muscles, a pre-sharpened blade, and an oversized D-shaped handle to fit both hands for added comfort and control.

Pruners, loppers, and pruning saws are another category where there are lots of different models for various uses. The gardeners on your list probably don't have them all yet. The Felco brand is the Mercedes of the pruning world, but Corona and Fiskars both make very good ones. And when they get lost or left out in the rain, the gardener won't feel quite so guilty. In addition to the many styles of hand pruners, consider a ratchet-style lopper. These really help with larger pruning jobs. The multi-purpose pruners/tool kit are not perfect but handy and make a great gift, too.

Watering equipment may seem a bit mundane as a Christmas present, but the colorful line of watering cans, hoses, watering wands, and sprinklers from Dramm make them seem more festive and allow you to color coordinate your garden. To keep with the color theme, bundle everything in one of the colorful plastic garden trugs available. While on the watering theme, another possibility is a rain barrel.

Tools With an Engine
No offense intended, but this is a category somewhat like getting a vacuum cleaner or iron for Christmas. Not a good idea, unless it's really, really needed. That said, a mini-tiller may be just the item that a special gardener on your list would be thrilled to get. There are both 2-cycle and 4-cycle engine types available. Although they're not intended for breaking new ground, I find them incredibly useful for working up the soil just before planting an area.

Other Possibilities
Here are some other gift ideas, some standard-issue, others a bit more unusual. For those of you who happen to know someone who is continually going, "Now what was that plant?" Get them a label maker. Office supply stores have these. Just make sure it is the type that uses printing tape suitable for outdoors. The most permanent way to use these labels is to put them on special metal garden markers. These come in a variety of sizes and shapes. If you can't find them locally, promise your gardener you'll order some after the holidays.

In the rural area where I live, a mail box is never anything but standard issue since there's a high probability that it will get smashed. But I don't have to look with envy at those pretty ones. Instead, they make great places around the garden to stash some hand tools, gloves, and note paper and pencils for tackling jobs on a moment's notice. Of course, plain mail boxes work fine for this, too. Follow your budget and creativity. Remember, plain ones can be painted with beautiful designs. Attach gardening mail boxes to a post sunk into the ground, just as you would for a "mail" one.

For the eco-conscious gardeners on your list, a composter or worm bin is the perfect choice. For those who like to garden outdoors year-round, consider a pair of insulated garden gloves. The readers on the list always appreciate garden books, of course, while most gardeners also like anything having to do with bird feeding and watching. The video camera specially designed for filming birds at your feeder is a tempting item, while a good pair of binoculars may be more practical.

Then there's the whole category of "garden decor," one which offers endless possibilities. Know your gardener when shopping for these items. What's "darling" to you may be over-the-top twee to someone else. The holidays are an opportunity to give something special to someone. One of the things I gifted myself last year was a really good wind chime. My rationale was that it was half price at a store going out of business, but writing the check still made me blanche. For years, I had made do with inexpensive "tinklers." If I had known how much pleasure could be derived from the marvelous sounds that this new one produced, I wouldn't have waited so long. Although these are not exactly the times to be over-indulgent, something special may be worth it.

For the more pragmatic gardener, never underestimate the joy found in a load of compost or horse manure. Although I've never had the opportunity to use horse manure in my own garden, the gardens that I've seen where it's been used are spectacular. Joy is found in many different ways. May you and the gardeners on your list find yours this season.


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