Gifts For The Gardener In Your Life
The Rural Intelligence region is fortunate to have so many gardening experts close by. Our garden writer, Madaline Sparks, is the principal in her own design, installation and maintenance business, Madaline Sparks Garden Design, with clients in Columbia and Berkshire counties. For 12 years she was the contributing garden editor at Real Simple Magazine. Madaline and her husband, Wayne Greene, live in Spencertown, NY where both are very active volunteers at Spencertown Academy Arts Center.
It’s the time of year again when we need to come up with gift ideas for our near and dear. The Christmas music started playing in some stores the day after Halloween, just in case we needed a reminder. If I hear “Jingle Bell Rock” one more time, I may jump off the roof into the nearest snowdrift! That said, the job must be done and I can share a few tips to help accomplish that.
The Rural Intelligence region has a number of well-stocked garden centers filled with items that would delight any grower. If in doubt about what your giftee might desire, you can’t go wrong with a gift certificate to one of those fine establishments.
If you prefer to be more personal and specific in your gift giving, here are some of the tried and true essentials that I personally can’t live without. My garden shed is full of discarded tools that have not measured up for one reason or another. After years of testing every kind of tool, with daily use by my crew and myself, I’ve narrowed down my list of bests. For the most part, the higher the quality the tool, the better job it does, and the easier it is to use.
If I could only have two hand tools in my arsenal, they’d be a Felco Pruner [above left] and a Hori Hori [above right]. Swiss-made Felco bypass pruners are considered the Rolls Royce of this category, preferred by pros and coveted by home gardeners. There are multiple styles and sizes for every type of grip. All the parts are replaceable so, though pricier than many brands, they can last a lifetime if well maintained. A Japanese farmer’s knife, or Hori Hori (which means dig, dig), looks like a dangerous weapon but serves multiple practical purposes. Use it as a trowel, for general digging; for bulb and seedling planting; as a taproot weeder or root cutter; a crevice tool; for prying up rocks; or for transplanting and dividing smaller perennials.
An indispensable digging tool, a Border Spade [right] (sometimes called a transplant spade), is unlike a typical flat spade in that it has a narrower head and a shorter handle. It’s perfect for digging the planting holes without disturbing the other plants nearby. It makes it easier to lift root balls and clumps of bulbs located in tight spaces with precision, in order to divide or transplant. It also does double duty as a spot edger for keeping a clean line on beds. English toolmakers typically do a great job of producing this tool, with ash or oak handles and forged steel heads.
Speaking of spades and clean lines, a Half Moon Spade [below] is the tool to have if you’ve got endless feet of beds to edge. Sharp bed and border edges can make even the most mediocre or unkempt garden look much nicer. It’s also excellent for cleaning up the edges of walkways and patios that are raggedy looking because the grass has crept over the sides.
My favorite watering can by far is the Haws “Practican.” Engineered to be perfectly balanced, this lightweight but tough plastic 1.5-gallon can has a long spout for reaching into the root zone of pots to deliver water much less effortlessly than any other can I’ve experienced. It comes with two attachments, a brass rose and a downspout, and is brilliantly designed with two “parking places” for them on the can so they don’t get lost.
It’s always a good time to give thoughtful quality garden-themed gifts to the horticulturally inclined on your list. I hope these are some ideas that will delight the green thumbs in your life.