Gifts for gardeners

By Dawn Pettinelli - UConn Home & Garden Education Center
Featured Article - posted Thu., Dec. 15, 2011
- Contributed Photo

Looking for a last-minute gift for the gardener on your list? Actually, I find fellow gardeners pretty easy to buy for. There’s always something they can use.

If you really can’t think of anything in particular, the solution is a gift certificate to a local nursery or greenhouse. I’ve never met a gardener yet who has enough plants, and there’s always gardening supplies like fertilizer, soil amendments and pest control products.

Most gardeners also enjoy gardening books and magazines. Some books that I have purchased in the last year or so are “The Truth About Organic Gardening,” by Jeff Gillman, “Teaming With Microbes,” by Jeff Lowenfels and Wayne Lewis, “The Rodale Book of Composting” (new, revised edition) edited by Deborah L. Martin and Grace Gershuny, and “Wicked Plants,” by Amy Stewart. These are packed with lots of interesting information, but there are also plenty of inspirational coffee table books, if illustrations are what you are looking for.

There used to be quite a number of garden magazines. They seem to be dwindling in number, as folks look for free information on the internet. Personally, I enjoy curling up on the sofa with a hard copy and a cup of tea. Some particularly good reads are “Fine Gardening,” “Horticulture” and the “American Gardener” for the serious plant enthusiast, “Organic Gardening” and “Mother Earth News” for the vegetable gardener, the “Connecticut Gardener” for articles by and for gardeners in Connecticut, and our own “UConn Home & Garden News,” which carries an assortment of topics written by UConn staff and students.

I noticed a tool belt in a few of the catalogs I have been getting that you put around a 5-gallon bucket. This seems like a useful item, as it has pockets for all your tools and a cover to sit on. I’m always searching for where I put down my tools, so this seems quite handy.

Something that is also on my wish list is a floral shovel. Often, when I am dividing perennials, I find a trowel too small and a standard-size shovel too large. This tool looks like a child-sized shovel with about a 6-inch rounded blade and a 3-foot handle. A friend of mine, a day-lily fanatic, swears by this tool, but she says to invest in a good one, as the cheap ones will bend.

Gloves are another item generally in demand by gardeners. You can get regular cloth gardening gloves, washable leather gloves, mud gloves coated with rubber, or long-sleeved rose gauntlets.

Slip-on waterproof clogs or boots are ideal for running out to the garden or compost pile when the grass is wet. Felco pruners aren’t cheap, but are extremely well-made. Rain gauges keep track of precipitation. Plant wire supports are always needed by perennial gardeners, and one never seems to have enough. Weather-proof markers and labels are good for keeping track of what has been planted.

Many gardeners also enjoy feeding and attracting birds. Bird seed, suet, feeders, bird houses or bird baths, especially those with heaters to keep the water from freezing, are other possibilities. Even toad houses are available for our cold-blooded, insect-eating friends.

Pots and potting mixes come in handy, as do long-spouted watering cans. Choose from a host of garden ornaments for that finishing touch.

Garden journals keep records in order, while seed storage containers are quite useful for those who do a lot of growing from seeds.

Finally, there’s always a fresh holiday arrangement or seasonal flowering plant to bring a bit of the garden inside for the holidays. If you are interested in subscribing to the Home & Garden News ($10/year) or if you have home or garden questions, contact the UConn Home & Garden Education Center, toll-free, at 877-486-6271, visit, or contact your local Cooperative Extension office.

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