Books, tools make great gifts for gardeners

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Gardeners can be an interesting breed when it comes to presents.

I remember one year my mother-in-law was horrified that my husband had bought me a small electric wood chipper for a special occasion. I was thrilled; it was just what I wanted. I was equally pleased with the special wellies (rubber boots) adorned with dragonflies and lady bugs that I received another year.

If you are in the position of needing a gift for a gardener, I can make several suggestions. First of all I would ask. If that isn’t possible or if no answer is forthcoming, you have several ways to go.

The first category would be live plants. If your gardener has a specialty area, your search is narrowed for you. Your gardener’s affections could lie with orchids, African violets, or even carnivorous plants. If your gardener doesn’t specialize, or if you don’t know the specialty area, then I would suggest going for new varieties of plants.

Gardeners are just like everyone else, what’s new or novel is cool. How do you know what’s new? Many plants are marketed that way or the store clerk should also be able to help you.

If you are nervous about trying to keep a plant alive until you give it, or need something you can pack and ship, then bulbs or seeds might be the way to go. Amaryllis and paper whites are classic for this season, but gladiola corms, tulip and daffodil bulbs and dahlia tubers are great for other times of the year.
Seeds are perfect lightweight gifts to mail. The choice is endless from edibles to floral beauties.

Tools would be the next gift-giving category. Every gardener needs good hand pruners, gloves and a hand trowel. Other tools depend on the type of gardening being done. Patio container gardeners probably don’t need large shovels, but would love watering cans. Gardeners with more ground may need loppers or hand saws to help trim large branches, as well as hoes and shovels. Gardening tool belts, bags, or buckets are helpful to transport tools from place to place. Kneeling pads, garden work seats and the previously mentioned wellies or garden clogs can make gardening more comfortable.

Gardening books are always appreciated. Topics can range from the very broad to the very specific, from general gardening to books devoted to one family of plants. There are books on specific gardening techniques like propagation, grafting or creating bonsai. There are also lovely books exploring famous and not so famous gardens all over the world.

Lastly there are gift certificates or gift cards to seed companies that put out those beautiful catalogs we drool over through the winter or to garden supply companies. I don’t know a gardener who wouldn’t enjoy a gift certificate to a favorite nursery or even better a new one. If you can turn it into a road trip and go together, you have reached the pinnacle of gift giving.

Karen Metz is a master gardener with the University of California Cooperative Extension office in Fairfield. If you have gardening questions, call the Master Gardener program’s office at 784-1322.