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North Hills Monthly

Gifts for the Gardener

Dec 01, 2014 10:23AM ● By Denise Schreiber
“Giving does not only precede receiving; it is the reason for it. It is in giving that we receive.”
­— Israelmore Ayivor

It is that time of year again, when we are checking our lists and then checking them twice for gifts that we know will be appreciated. While I am one of those people that is loath to give a gift card unless it is specifically requested or someone lives out of town and it’s too bulky to send a gift, when it comes to plant and garden centers, gardeners will always take a gift card, myself included, if you feel so inclined. There are all kinds of things a person can find at a garden center such as that special hand lotion that softens gardeners’ hands, gloves for keeping hands from getting dirty, plants both indoors and out, pots, garden art, bird feeders and more. But if you are intent on giving a gift instead of a gift card, let me tell you what is on most gardeners’ wish lists this year.

On the top of many lists this year is Pennsylvania: Getting Started Garden Guide by George Weigel. There is a lot of information jammed into this book for the beginning gardener as well as the expert. Weigel covers everything from flowers to trees and shrubs, with botanical names, heights, flowers, and more importantly, regional advice in case you want to buy this book for your Aunt Sophie in Philadelphia (which is in a different gardening zone than us). There are a lot of color photographs for those who need to see a plant instead of just a description. 

Coffee for Roses, by C. L. Fornari, dispels garden myths with facts and humor. One example: Chewing gum will not clog up a groundhog’s intestines and kill him; the groundhog might get a few cavities, but you should save your gum and try a trap instead. A Garden to Dye For, by Chris McLaughlin, walks you step-by-step through the process of growing and using plants for dyeing fabric. Simple and easy-to-follow directions create glorious colors for fabric—for those who are into crafts, this is THE book for under the tree.

Garden-pedia is the hottest book to give as a gift this year. Written by Pamela Bennett, an extension agent from Ohio, and Maria Zampini, owner of UpShoot LLC, a boutique horticultural marketing firm whose roots are entrenched in the family business of Lake County Nurseries, this book clearly defines all those terms you hear garden experts bandying about such as pinching, dead-heading, trenching and coppicing. It is the definitive ‘gardenpedia’ for new and old gardeners alike! All of the aforementioned books except Weigel’s are published by St. Lynn’s Press here in Pittsburgh, so you can find them in local bookstores and garden centers, too!

You can never go wrong with tools as a gift for the gardener in your life. I am a huge fan of Corona Tools, as they make tools to fit every budget and landscape. The Corona stainless steel snips are one of my favorites. I use them for cutting bouquets of zinnias in the summer and snipping stamens off my lilies. The folding handsaw cuts through branches in no time at all! Their Comfort Gel tools allow you to get a good grip without blisters, and they have a lifetime guarantee on their forged hand tools; I can speak from experience that they honor it. They are reasonably priced and can be found at most garden and home centers.

One of the things that makes a gardener’s life easier is a garden cart. You can haul compost in it, clean up the garden at the end of the season or move mulch to the flower beds. One with high wheels is the easiest to move around. Prices can range from $40 to $300, depending on your needs. If your gardener doesn’t need a cart, consider a trug. A trug is simply an open basket that is curved and long and designed to carry cut flowers or the harvest of the garden.

Of course, one of the most appreciated garden gifts is the gift of your time—helping to plant the spring peas, rake the leaves in the fall, or mulch the flowers. These things all take time, and one of the true pleasures of gardening is having some downtime to enjoy it. Take some notepaper and write down what ‘time’ you are willing to give and put it in an envelope—it’s a really nice gift that costs nothing at all.

To all, Merry Christmas, Joyeaux Noel, Joyous Solstice, Feliz Navidad, Buon Natale and a bountiful garden for the upcoming year!