Non-gardeners always seem to be stumped when it comes to their gardening friends and relatives. I can't begin to count the number of times I’ve gotten garden gloves that are two sizes too big or cheap pruners that fall apart after only a few uses.
So here, in no particular order, are a few Christmas ideas you can leave lying around on a table where your loved ones will see it. Here’s hoping they take the hint!
Really good tools: These can last a lifetime if taken care of properly. They also are the perfect gifts as they are not something most gardeners would buy for themselves. (I’d much rather spend my money on plants, but that’s why I’m a hortiholic.) For lefties only: Pruners and hand weeders specifically for left-handed people are hard to come by and very much appreciated. As a leftie myself, I know.
Hand cream: For those gardeners who either don’t like using gloves or prefer to use their hands. Dirt is really drying! And if they don’t use gloves, it’s a good bet they’ll also need a good nail scrub brush.
Birdhouses: What is a garden without some wildlife, especially birds? Every garden needs at least one birdhouse.
Gnomes: Okay, these aren’t for everyone. But there are some really cute ones out there, and I don’t just mean the Roaming Gnome either.
Memberships: To either the Chicago Botanic Garden or the Morton Arboretum if your gardener doesn't already have one. This is a gift that will keep on giving the entire year.
Garden books: These are great way to keep that gardening spark alive during the long, cold, snowy winter months. It’s hard to go wrong with a garden book, even if it’s mostly pictures. A few suggestions follow. All were published in the past year and have received good reviews. I haven’t read all of them, but have browsed most of them.
“Gardening for a Lifetime: How to Garden Wiser as You Grow Older,” by Sydney Eddison. We’re all getting older and she has some good suggestions on how to keep the garden looking good.
“Contemporary Color in the Landscape: Top Designers, Inspiring Ideas, New Combinations,” by Andrew Wilson. Absolutely gorgeous photos!
“The Artful Garden: Creative Inspiration for Landscape Design” by James van Sweden and Tom Christopher. Van Sweden designed Evening Island and several other projects at the Chicago Botanic Garden.
“Landscapes in Landscapes,” by Piet Oudolf and Noel Kingsbury. Latest book from Dutch plantsman Oudolf, who designed the Lurie Garden at Chicago’s Millennium Park.
“Designing with Conifers: The Best Choices for Year-Round Interest in Your Garden,” by Richard Bitner. For those who want to move beyond yews and arborvitae in the home landscape.
“Wicked Bugs: The Louse that Conquered Napoleon’s Army and Other Diabolical Insects,” by Amy Stewart, who also wrote "Wicked Plants." Not for the squeamish.
“Continuous Container Gardens: Swap in the Plants of the Season to Create Fresh Designs,” by Sara Begg Townsend and Roanne Robbins. How to keep your container looking good throughout the year.
“Garden Up! Smart Vertical Gardening for Small and Large Spaces,” by Susan Morrison and Rebecca Sweet. Arbors, trellises, living walls and other vertical options. Especially good for urban gardeners.
“Tomorrow’s Garden: Design and Inspiration for a New Age of Sustainable Gardening,” by Stephen Orr.
“Founding Gardeners,” by Andrea Wulf. For those who love gardening as well as politics and/or early American history. Most of our Founding Fathers were gardeners as well as farmers. They spent a lot of time thinking about the fledgling nation’s native plant life as well as compost. (See July blog).
“The Bad Tempered Gardener,” by Anne Wareham. This is written by someone who loves gardens, but hates gardening, which she claims is akin to doing housework outside. She’s witty, irreverent and always entertaining.
Gift certificates: If all else fails, get a gift certificate at your gardener’s favorite nursery. It’s sure to be used up quickly.
Here's hoping your holiday shopping goes smoothly!
By Karen Geisler