Here are some holiday gifts gardeners really want

No offense to any of my well-intentioned friends or family members, but I’ve received enough books of sappy gardening essays, prints of vintage seed packets, and garden-themed pajamas. In each case, the thought definitely did count, but I really appreciate gifts I can actually use.

And so, as a pragmatist, I started compiling my own horticultural wish list. Though a few of us, myself included, may pine for items like heavy machinery, a greenhouse, or more land to cultivate, these are out of the range of most gift givers and are exceedingly hard to wrap.

Granted, if you’re reading this magazine, you may already have a hefty wish list yourself. But in the interest of letting your loved ones in on the scoop, without having to produce your own list, here are a few suggestions. And, of course, there are probably a few gardeners upon whom you shower gifts yourself. Hint: You may want to casually leave this page open on the dining-room table (with notes in the margins) or make photocopies that you can scatter like seed.

A truckload of aged manure or compost is gardeners’ gold. No kidding, this is numero uno on my list. A word to the wise: You might want to let your loved one know it’s coming before the truck shows up at the door. Earn extra points by promising to help spread it.

Tickets to a garden tour provide a way to indulge the innate curiosity most gardeners have about other people’s gardens (let’s not call it voyeurism). Many local garden clubs sponsor tours during the growing season, while the Garden Conservancy publishes a book of gardens nationwide, both public and private, that are open for viewing.

A classy ceramic or stainless-steel compost pail can replace that nasty old plastic container lurking under the kitchen sink.

Garden reference books, as in the ones that have the same heft as a cast-iron frying pan, are a sure bet since gardeners never seem to have enough. Worthy options include the American Horticultural Society A–Z Encyclopedia of Garden Plants, Michael Dirr’s Manual of Woody Landscape Plants, and Armitage’s Garden Perennials: A Color Encyclopedia.

A top-of-the-line gardening tool will certainly never gather dust—at least during the gardening season. You can’t go wrong with a well-crafted pair of pruners or gardening gloves, but also consider loppers, a sturdy spade, or even an elegant antique watering can that can double as garden art.

A gift certificate for a therapeutic massage can be a lifesaver for a gardener who tends to get a little too enthusiastic during the spring-planting crunch. Or a manicure might be appreciated by someone who likes to at least start the gardening season with dirt-free fingernails.

 

A high-quality rain gauge or a thermometer with minimum and maximum daily temperatures are items that a gardener will soon find indispensable. After all, who’s more obsessed with the weather than gardeners?

An IOU for hours of gar­dening labor may be the most valuable gift of all. Don’t forget that you’ve offered, and make sure your gift recipients take you up on it.

A hammock is a great gift to encourage a high-energy gardener to kick back. Lightweight string hammocks are especially comfortable and easy to stash.

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