BY: Carol Williams, Mobile County Master Gardener, www.mobilecountymastergardeners.org
Almost finished shopping but still have a few dear ones you would like to please? If they garden outdoors or care for plants inside, gardening or plant gifts can be a quick and simple means to finish out this year’s list. Don’t limit your shopping to the internet or big box stores, check into our local hardware stores, nursery centers, landscaping suppliers, and feed stores for unique choices. Mobile County Master Gardeners have some suggestions.
Gardening wears out gloves quickly, so a good pair of leather gloves or nitrile grip coated gloves that breathe are good choices for stocking stuffers. Your rose gardener may enjoy a pair of gauntlet gloves for the extra protection they offer the arms. Another necessity is a visor or a large gardening hat, perhaps designed to cover the neck, too. A clear “window” along the front edge of a wide brim enables seeing down the garden row.
Many gardeners enjoy a pair of favorite clippers in their pocket whenever they go outside. Clippers of various kinds make gardening quicker and yield neater results. Hand-held bypass pruners work on smaller and softer plants in the garden and can shape many growing plants. Like a knife on a chopping board, anvil garden clippers are helpful in trimming stiff branches and trees. Avoid using them on softer green plants as they can crush stem ends. If clippers are in a holster or will fit in a garden apron, they will see more use.
Loppers have longer handles than clippers but cut much the same, with by-pass or anvil-type blades, ratcheting or not, each useful on particular plants. Larger than a lopper but great for trimming small branches off trees and pruning or thinning shrubs is a cordless lopper chain saw. Its battery-powered motor makes quick work of jobs too large for hand-held clippers. Also good for the larger jobs are pruning saws. The folding saw stays at hand in a pocket or apron while the extendable can reach up to 12 feet into trees and remove branches with ease.
Two Japanese-created products make planting and weeding more efficient. Often sold sheathed, the hori-hori planting knife has a serrated edge, a regular knife edge, and a ruler on the blade (useful for spacing plantings). The hand-held Japanese weeding sickle gently scrapes away small weeds that terrorize the new vegetable garden without hurting the tender plants.
A classic hoe weeds larger areas and shovels make planting or moving plants possible. A trencher spade is a sharp-pointed, narrower-width shovel that lightens the load when digging holes, transplanting, or dividing, especially helpful to older or physically smaller gardeners.
Some gardeners extend their gardening years with the garden kneeling stool that allows knee comfort to garden, handles to help pull up to a standing position, and a stool to rest a moment, all on one frame. A device that also eases garden movement is the tractor-seated garden scooter.
If your gardener prefers lower-maintenance potted plants, Christmas is a great holiday to expand their collection. In addition to the gorgeous poinsettias and the flowering Christmas cactus, other varieties are also available at garden centers.
The Norfolk Island pine offers a chance to give a tree already decorated. They take some care but will continue to grow and bring holiday cheer year-round. The upright rosemary often available in Christmas tree shapes can also be a continuing memory of the holidays, especially with their wonderful fragrance. The foliage plant Stromanthe sanguinea ‘Triostar’ adds Christmas colors with variegated white and green on top of the leaves, and undersides carrying a bright reddish pink. Remember to add an artistic pot and some extra potting soil (Gardeners can never have too much.) with your living gift.
Finally, the opening of a gift card from any of our suppliers brings joy to many gardeners’ hearts. Her grandchildren thrilled one Master Gardener because she bought the rose bushes and bricks that she had been wanting to add to her garden. Another Master Gardener specifically recommends checking out a mail-order website known for heirloom seeds: Baker Creek at https://www.rareseeds.com/store/gardening-tools/gift-certificates.
Whoever your gardeners are, they will be pleased to receive any of these Master Gardener recommended tools or plants for a merry Christmas and the promise of a delightful spring.