|Look good banning the bad rays|
Garden hats - The sun is not our skins' best friend, that's a given. There are some great outdoor hats that provide 50+ UPF sun protection and are fashionable, too. Who wouldn't feel good about giving (and receiving) the gift of health? Under $50.
|Who isn't charmed by playful plantings?|
Topiaries, miniature gardens - Seasonal or otherwise, themed topiaries and miniature gardens are meant to bring a smile and even provide an "out loud" laugh. I'm told the idea of these little gardens is especially intriguing to people who may have downsized and no longer have an outdoor garden. Not to be sexist, but many grandmothers tell me creating and maintaining these gardens is an activity they love to share with their grandchildren. Or, buy the components and challenge your personal creativity. Fun, with a wide range of prices.
Hers Shovel - An ergonomically correct tool that addresses the fact that women tend to use their lower body strength, rather than their torsos, like men. The blade is angled differently than standard shovels and has a large, non-slip step to allow women to maximize their leg strength. The handle is not only cushioned, but designed to allow the gardener to really use both hands and arms for maximum strength. Really smart, too, are sizes: small (less than 5'2"), medium (5'2"-5'7") and large (taller than 5'7"). Makes planting easier, under $90.
|Stand back and watch the wonder unfold|
Amaryllis - A jack-in-the-beanstalk among flowering plants. Once they're out of their fall dormancy their growth is measurable from one day to the next. Not only is their daily progress fun for all ages to watch, but the incredible trumpet-like flowers truly dazzle in a wide range of colors and forms! What a cool gift to interest kids about plants, too. Under $25.
|Capture the best of your soil|
Garden sieve - If you inherited a garden where a former owner used gravel mulch, or if your soil just has lots of junk in it, this is indispensable. When you're digging shovel the soil in the sieve and shake it back and forth like you're panning for gold. You are. The soil that falls through is root, rock and clod-free. Makes planting in awful soils a lot simpler for you and your plants. Functional and under $30.
|Get the skinny on garden rainfall|
Rain gauge - As any meteorologist will tell you rainfall can vary widely within a very small geographic area. You'd be surprised at how much different the figure may be than your local weather report. So, it's nice to go to your gauge after a rain and know how much your garden received, especially during the heat of summer. Accurate info is a great thing. Under $30.
Subscription to a great gardening magazine - My favorite is always Fine Gardening, a Taunton Press publication. Beautiful gardens, great practical information, with lots of applicable local and Midwest content. Inspirational, educational. A year subscription is less than $30, money well spent.
|Share the joys of birding|
Bird feeder - Birding and gardening are neck and neck as America's favorite hobbies. Why not combine the two and enjoy watching the birds feeding in your garden from your window? The range of feeder choices is mind-boggling. If you're giving a feeder, why not include a bag of good seed (like everything in life, you get what you pay for, so read the ingredients on the "value" seed label carefully before buying)?
Happy stress-free holiday shopping to all!