In the Garden:
Upper South
November, 2012
Regional Report

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Ask Santa for gifts that will make your garden better than ever.

What's On Your Gardening Wish List?

As you've cleaned, pruned, weeded, and raked the garden in the last couple of weeks, you've had lots of time to notice and think about what's working, as well as what aspects could be improved. If you've managed to also go shopping, no doubt you've noticed the stores are already in holiday mode. All of which makes it the perfect time to polish that gardening wish list.

Of course, garden centers and catalogs have an abundance of items with which to tempt us year-round, from an ever-expanding array of plants to the most darling of garden decorations and an astounding assortment of equipment and gadgets. That said, any gardener should have no problem coming up with items he or she would love to receive on Christmas. At the risk of being terribly practical, before you get carried away on that list, let's look at what would make your day-to-day gardening life run more smoothly and easily.

Hand Tools
Much of gardening involves digging, weeding, and pruning, so it makes sense to have the tools that most easily accomplish those tasks. For me, that includes a soil knife and hand pruners, both kept in leather sheaths that are easily clipped to a pocket on each side of my work pants. I never go out into the garden without these, plus a pair of gardening gloves. Hands down, the soil knife is the one tool I would never want to be without. The one I use has a bright orange handle, the better to find it when it gets set down on the ground. In choosing pruning shears, try to choose the best that can be afforded, preferably in a by-pass model. Again, look for a pair with brightly colored handles, for both literally and figuratively the obvious reason.

Beyond those two tools, the others that are consistently with me in the garden include round-nose and square-nose shovels with D-handles. I prefer ones of all-steel construction and a broad foot pad at the top of the blade. Next on the list, a good leaf rake and a steel bow rake, plus a folding pruning saw and loppers.

Watering Supplies
If you weren't aware before this summer with the importance of the right equipment for watering, then, no doubt, you are now. With some equipment, it's possible to cut corners, but the difference between a high-quality garden hose and a cheap one is immeasurable. Fortunately, for such a mundane item, there are now wonderfully colored ones to coordinate with your garden. For the end of that hose, it's just as important to have a nozzle that gently emits water.

There's a wide assortment of watering cans available, and price does not always equate to what will work best for you. Mainly, you want to choose one with at least one gallon capacity as well as one that is well-balanced. If possible, ask Santa for multiple ones so that they'll be readily available wherever you have an outdoor faucet.

Although it may not look very exciting when opened on Christmas morning, one or more soaker hoses could mean the difference between a garden area that survives a summer dry spell and one that does not. Quality varies, so look for one that is as flexible as possible, kink and crush resistant, and that is not harmed by freezing temperatures.

Just as practical and potentially a lot more fun to choose is a rain barrel. Certainly a recycled plastic drum is the cheapest option, but manufacturers are now offering a wide range of styles, sizes, and colors.

I know one gardener who was thrilled to be gifted with a load of manure. In other words, ask for what will most please you and make the gardening year ahead one of the most beautiful ever.

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