Great Gifts for Gardeners

amaryllis_gretnala_20090619_lah_4153-1Ah, Christmas time. The fresh scent of evergreens. Tasty cookies and other special treats. Carols, decorations, and, yes, gifts. I love giving gifts—when I know just what to give. If you have gardeners on your list, lucky you—you shouldn’t have any problem picking out something they’ll love. Perhaps one of these ideas will be perfect.

Philodendron 'Prince of Orange'Houseplants. It’s cold outside, but we can still garden indoors. Consider plants that are particularly suited to conditions in the home. For example, with our low humidity here in Colorado, I find that those with succulent leaves or water-storing roots do best, such as Christmas cactus, various begonias, and spider plants. Or consider bulbs for forcing—amaryllis (above) or paper whites are popular. Then add an attractive pot and a bow.

Garden art. Art is a very personal gift—what appeals to one person may not thrill someone else, so make sure you are well acquainted with the person you’re buying for. Even better, find an excuse to take them with you to the garden center, then notice what they linger over. If you’re thinking of fake geese and plastic flamingos, I can assure you that there’s a lot more to choose from. For starters, consider stepping stones, bird baths, wall decorations, sculptures, or gazing balls. I happen to delight in whimsical garden décor:

gardeners-hand-lotionHand lotion. Some gardeners wear gloves. I don’t. I hate them. They never fit (I have wide palms and short fingers), they fill with grit, they’re hot, and I can’t properly grab delicate seedlings. As a result, my hands suffer during the growing season. Hand lotion for gardeners needs to be thick—think body butter, not those wimpy liquids. I’ve actually been known to slather on vegetable shortening before bed, then spend the night with my hands inside a pair of baggies. You might add some gentle but abrasive soap for getting hands clean, and a small fingernail brush for getting the dirt out of those torn cuticles.

2016-04-014Annuals & perennials. December isn’t the best time of year to plant flowers, but you can always give someone a coupon for later. Come spring, even those with full yards will yearn for something new. Plants die, become overgrown, or just plain disappoint, so there’s always something that needs replacing. If you stick to annuals and/or perennials, plants can fit into almost any budget. Even better, offer to go to the nursery with them, so you can pick out the flowers together.

A soil test. Every gardener should know what’s in their soil. Should they fertilize—or have potassium and phosphorous built up to dangerous levels? What about organic matter? A soil test will answer these questions, and the results come with recommendations from the experts at Colorado State University. CSU has an excellent soil lab, their tests are very affordable, and they’re happy to send a gift certificate.

catalogs-lahSeeds. Catalogs used to arrive in January, but in recent years I’ve noticed them coming before Christmas. Smart marketing—seeds make terrific gifts. You can order some packets now as stocking stuffers, or just wrap up the catalog with a gift certificate and let them pick their own favorite varieties.

If you’re still wracking your brain, check out my previous suggestions. Back in 2009, when I first started blogging, I posted “What to Give a Gardener.” Three years ago (it seems like yesterday) I suggested “Five Gardening Gifts to Avoid.” And finally, maybe someone else can share a good idea—what terrific gardening gifts have you received?
Credits for garden whimsy: Face rock, stepping stone, metal gecko.

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