Sometimes the most stressful part of Christmas shopping is deciding what to get someone as a gift. Remember that gardening is the No. 1 hobby in the United States. If that friend or loved one enjoys gardening, the following suggestions might help.
Consider a subscription to a garden magazine such as Georgia Gardening, Carolina Gardener, or Southern Living. Magazines are very affordable gifts that will continue each month.
Gardeners never get enough books. Try to get books written for our area and pertaining to plants we can grow. Many have plenty of pictures but very little text. Gardening books can be intimidating because whose garden or landscape looks that perfect? At least they can give us a goal to work toward.
Another popular trend is plant information and landscape design programs on CDs. Most computer stores offer a selection of landscape programs that are easy to use.
Remember, too, that many gardeners are also excellent cooks. A mix of gardening and cooking can bring great delight. Whether it’s a cookbook or herb plants or an apron with a gardening motif, it will be appreciated.
Tools, however, are probably the things gardeners appreciate the most. And, remember, there is usually no such thing as a bargain tool. If the gardener is serious about gardening, he or she needs serious tools. Examples of excellent gardening tools include trowels, shovels, spades, turning forks, garden carts, wheelbarrows and rakes.
Consider a bulb planter. It is a simple, toothed cylinder that makes bulb planting much easier than it is with a shovel. These also come with a long handle that allows you to stand up and push with your foot, which might be easier for people who can’t stoop over.
There are big- and little-headed hoes. Most folks prefer the smaller head because it can get up next to plants much easier. The scuffle hoe works both backward and forward and requires less effort than a regular hoe. I can hoe my small-vegetable garden with a scuffle hoe in less than 5 minutes.
The one tool that is indispensable to a gardener is a spading or turning fork. Don’t buy the welded type because it just doesn’t hold up under heavy work.
A good hand trowel is another tool you shouldn’t skimp on. Look for one-piece construction, which eliminates the problem of bending or breaking the tool. There are special grips for the elderly or people with disabilities.
A wheelbarrow or garden cart is impossible to do without. Either should have pneumatic tires for easy rolling. Many wheelbarrows are made of plastic and won’t dent or rust.
A large wheeled garden cart might be even better than a wheelbarrow because it doesn’t tip over and can carry heavy loads with little effort.
Pruning tools are special to gardeners. Cheap ones are often useless. There are hedge shears for cutting large areas of hedges or lopping shears for cutting large branches. The pruners gardeners use most are hand shears. The bypass types are better because they cut cleanly, whereas anvil types tend to cut and crush the plant tissue. There are also shears with ratcheting handles, which are easier to cut with.
Gardeners never get enough plants, either. There are always new ones coming out. If you can’t find the plant your gardener wants, get a gift certificate. Most gardeners have patience to wait for just the right plant.
Don’t forget about containers to grow plants in, whether on the patio or in the house. Clay, ceramic brushed metal, and plastic baskets all make nice gifts. If you buy a potted plant and a container, remember the plants’ need for drainage. You can leave the plants in the uglier plastic pots, and set them down in the decorative containers. Don’t forget to buy a plastic liner to catch the runoff.
And finally, recycling and composting are popular among gardeners. Start your gardener off with a compost bin. The larger ones will work best. For the experienced composter, consider compost thermometers, turners and test kits.
REACH SID MULLIS, THE DIRECTOR OF THE UNIVERSITY OF GEORGIA EXTENSION SERVICE OFFICE FOR RICHMOND COUNTY, AT (706) 821-2349 OR SMULLIS@UGA.EDU.