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Gifts for the Gardener

Published in the six Nashoba Publishing papers on Friday, 30 November 2001 (formatting changed for the Web)

Give plants! But not just anything. I keep a whole shelf of nursery catalogs; anyone could figure out the places I like because their catalogs are worn and have notes in the margins. Gift certificates to those places would always be great. Or to a local nursery that's big enough you can always find something you want, and where you can see what you're getting. Winter-blooming houseplants help a gardener make it through till spring: Amaryllis, Paperwhite Narcissus, and Christmas Cactuses are the easiest.

Another winter essential is garden books. Don't give how-to books unless you know what the gardener needs; otherwise you run the risk of getting something too basic. Good bets are picture books of gorgeous gardens, and books in which gardeners tell stories about their experiences. Also a whole book on a favorite plant; for example I have one on Hostas, one on Campanulas, one on mosses, and one on hardy roses.

There are always more tools to try. My all-time favorite so far is the soil scoop, which puts much less strain on the wrist than a trowel does. And equipment — tops in this category is my shredder-chipper: fallen branches and leaves quickly become useful garden mulch with this monster. (Get a powerful one.)

A garden shed to store everything in is a necessity for a gardener. It can't be too big; the contents will expand to fill the space available. In my case, everything has overflowed into the basement, the laundry room, and the front porch. One of the things I keep on the front porch is a pretty basket full of hand tools: trowel, hand cultivator-claw, clippers, a dandelion weeder.... I have another set of the same tools in the back yard, in the garden shed. But I got tired of having to go get the tool I needed from the other side of the yard all the time. Duplicates are a great timesaver.

A good-looking wooden compost frame is a thoughtful gift — one of those things people tend not to buy for themselves, because it's an unnecessary expense — one only someone who really cares would give. Compost? A gift involving that messy stuff? Ah, but it's so great to get that sloppy pile, which is so essential, corralled so that it's a bit more attractive.

Sources:

Plants

BooksTimber Press

Tools and Equipment

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© Copyright 2001 Catherine Holmes Clark