Sunday, December 11, 2011

Best Gifts for Gardeners by Patti O'Neal

What do I get for the gardener or my favorite new “wanna be” gardener on my list this year?  Most of my friends are seasoned gardeners and they are the hardest to buy for – they already have all the basics.  So I have been “shopping” the best websites and catalogues and nurseries to find unusual items, the most sustainable items or just things that I might not have thought of.  I am sharing them with you in hopes that you will find the perfect item to surprise and delight that gardener in your life.

Start with the 2012 Jeffco Master Gardener Calendar for everyone on your list.  At $13.00 it's a real bargain and available at many garden centers in Jefferson County.  Check here for the information.

For the Beginning Gardener

Radius ergonomic hand tools.  These come not only in hand tools but also in every spade, shovel and fork configuration imaginable.  These tools are a   pleasure to use and reduce stress on wrists and forearms.  Your wrist maintains a natural position while you work.  They are bright chartreuse so you cannot lose them in the garden or yard.  Also very sturdy and beautifully crafted.  You can find them locally at Paulino’s, Echters, and Arapahoe Acres.  Call first as none of these locations carry the full line.  I particularly love my round handled pro shovel and my hand trowel.

A Gift Certificate for Garden Classes. The best deal around is offered by the Jefferson County Master Gardeners.  They are offering a Spring Gardening Symposium on January 28, 2012, called Vegetable Gardening A –Z: Hitting the Basics.  It is a full day of six classes and covers Soil Preparation & Amendments, Vegetable Basics, Starting your Garden from Seed or Transplants, Tomatoes, Container Vegetable Gardening and Mountain Vegetable Gardening.  All this plus handouts, seeds and lunch for $70.  There is an optional lunch and learn class on Basic Flower Gardening for an additional $10.  Spend the day with these people who have access to the best research based gardening information, and in addition to the classes learn how the Jefferson County Master Gardeners can assist you with your gardening adventures all year long.  Call the Master Gardener line (303-2712-6632) to get a Gift Certificate and set your favorite beginning gardener (maybe yourself!) up for success.  What a great gift!

    Atlas Nitrile Garden Gloves. A favorite of mine as they are lightweight (almost like no gloves at all) and colorful, so hard to lose if you remove one to tie off a tomato plant.  Easy to find at nearly any garden center and really inexpensive at $5-6 per pair.   

 Gifts for the Gardener Who has Everything

Living Walls. Portable and Freestanding, these triangular living walls allow you to grow garden-fresh produce inside or out, beautifying your living space and removing pollutants.  They can be used on a patio or balcony as well as in a bed to create more growing space. 
Green Living Technologies, 800-631-8001 or

A Beautiful Harvest Basket. For harvest time or for a quick trip to the Farmer’s Market to fill in with something you are not growing or that has not come in yet.  Baskets from The Blessing Basket Project are handcrafted in Ghana from elephant grass with goat leather wrapped handles.  This nonprofit pays its artisans Prosperity Wages designed to bring the artist out of poverty and increase financial independence.  Giving a beautiful, useful and sustainable gift and feeling a sense of helping someone all at the same time.  A blessing indeed.  The Blessing Basket Project.

   Wingscapes Timelapse Plantcam. Create awesome time lapse videos of your favorite plants growing with this amazing little camera.  Weatherproof and comes with stand to capture nature unfurling right before your very eyes.  What else are you gonna do?

Gifts For Apartment Dwellers

Terrarium. Once again, all the rage.  An entire garden landscape under glass which requires little attention to delight its owner.  They come in all sizes, open or closed, with all kinds of themes.  And if that person is so inclined a gift certificate to Denver Botanic Gardens class on Terrariums and Dish Gardens might be just the ticket.

 Houseplant Tools. These handy little tools make keeping houseplants tidy so much easier.  They are just the right size for digging around in small pots and not disturbing tender roots.  The set consists of a tiny shovel, trowel and cultivator.  Tied with a lovely bow and attached to a matching spray bottle to mist plants with a little moisture, especially in forced air heated homes; this makes a great gift for around $10. 

Worm Box and Gift Certificate for Worms. Even apartment, condo, patio home dwellers can compost with a worm farm.  One pound of worms can eat up to 5-6 pounds of kitchen scraps per week.  Resulting vermicompost can be used on houseplants or maybe traded with the neighbor down the street for fresh veggies in the summer.  Present the giftee with a Rubbermaid 60 gallon box and a gift certificate for a pound of worms and make someone and the world happy!  Call CSU Extension office in Jefferson County (303-271-6620) for a Vermicomposting fact sheet to include with your gift that gives directions to build out the box and exactly what you can and cannot feed and bed the worms with. 

Stocking Stuffers

Crabtree and Evelyn Ultra Moisturizing Hand Therapy.  It’s been around forever it seems, but I love it
Mosquito dunks. This may sound funny, but a package of the mini dunks is handy to have around in the heat in the summer when the mosquitoes are pesky to pop into your bird baths, fountains and ponds.
Leap Organics Soaps. These amazing bars are vegan, biodegradable, cruelty-free, triple-milled and produced using renewable energy.  The riotous packaging is 100 recyclable and manufactured using wind energy.  Aside from feeling luxurious to use, you can’t get any more sustainable than that!
A gorgeously bound garden journal. An essential for the conscientious gardener is keeping records.  Keeping notes on your favorite plant of the year, how certain vegetables did this year and maybe why, i.e. the weather is key to success the next time around.   It’s hard to make corrections when you can’t remember why you did something a certain way last year.  Always best to make notes on your successes as well as failures.  Also a great place to stick photos of the progress of a new bed or plant you are trying.  Barnes and Noble has all kinds of beautiful journals, leather bound, handmade paper, ribbon markers – you name it, great choices.
Window Mounted Thermometer.  Every gardener needs to know what the temperature actually is, especially if he or she is growing crops that are temperature sensitive.   This totally cool looking 4 ½” circular thermometer allows you to read the outside temp in both Celsius and Fahrenheit without leaving the comfort of inside.  It has large readable markings and can be removed to clean the window.  A super value at $9.95 and can be found in the Lee Valley online catalogue, one of my all time favorites, as it is full of fabulous gadgets that you never knew you couldn’t live without!

Some of my favorite sites or catalogues for great garden “stuff” are Lee Valley Tools, Walt Nicke Company Fine Tools for Gardeners and Gardeners Supply.  All great companies to deal with as well.  Hope this inspires your holiday shopping.