Published on 11/13/08

Gifts for the gardener on your list

By Sharon Dowdy
University of Georgia

Avid gardener Charlie Christian says people like him enjoy getting gardening-related gifts for Christmas. But if you have gardeners on your shopping list, whatever you do, don’t give them cheap tools. Give them something they’ll remember.

“I speak for a lot of gardeners when I say please don’t give your gardening friends low-quality tools,” said Christian, 73, a retired dentist from Madison, Ga. “I’d much rather receive one high-quality garden tool than a bunch of cheap ones that won’t last a year. And please don’t give an adult a set of child-size tools.”

Christian has been gardening since his father helped him plant a Victory Garden in 1942. He’s also one of state’s 2,500 active Master Gardeners, individuals who have completed the 11-week Master Gardener program provided by the UGA College of Agricultural and Environmental Sciences.

Gardeners' list of best gifts

He recently polled the Master Gardeners in his area for their opinions on holiday gifts. The high-end choice gifts were labelers, four-wheel carts and truckloads of garden amendments.

They also wanted Santa to deliver nice hand pruners, lopper pruners, ratchet pruners, garden gloves or garden hoses.

“A sprinkler with a timer would be a great gift, too,” he said. “And a container of Roundup will always be appreciated and put to good use.”

Plants top the list

Among his gardening friends, the most requested gift was plants.

“Everyone wants pass-a-long plants and rooted cuttings,” he said. “I toured a lovely garden recently, and the owner told me it consisted mainly of plants she had received from friends or grew from cuttings.”

Low-light house plants are also great. Gardeners typically like indoor plants, too, he said.

“A plant that can be later planted outside in the garden can serve as a reminder of the gift-giver for years,” Christian said.

Krissy Slagle, the Master Gardener program assistant coordinator, has put a lot of thought into the gifts she’d like to receive.

Hats, gloves and pants

“I’d really like a pair of gardening gloves with hooks on them so you can fasten them on your belt,” she said. “I’m always laying my gloves down, and then I have no idea where they are.”

For the same reason, Slagle wants a sheath or an apron with pockets to keep her gardening tools close at hand. “I’ve even thought of attaching a keychain with a cord to my pruners.”

Clothes are nice, she said, like a hat for sun protection or pants with reinforced knees. Camouflaged pants from hunting supply stores are flexible and hold up well over time.

Give a membership to a botanical garden, she said, or gift certificate from a seed supply company.

Cordless, low-emission power tools

Don’t forget cordless gardening tools, she said. They’re great for small jobs.

“The new cordless tools have lower emissions. So, they are better for the environment, too,” she said. “A cordless saw-all pruner is on the top of my wish list this year.”

She also suggests giving interactive CDs, garden design software or reference books. Her favorite insect book right now is “Garden Insects of North America” written by Colorado State University entomologist Whitney Cranshaw. Any books from CAES horticulturists Michael Dirr or Alan Armitage would be good, too.

Dream gifts, thrifty gifts

Slagle’s pie-in-the-sky dream gift is a Dingo. “It’s a self-propelled compact utility loader with attachments. It’s the all-time, ultimate gardening gift,” she said.

If your pockets aren’t deep enough for a Dingo, most gardeners would be thrilled to get a small tiller, she said.

If your funds are low, though, give a bag of manure, compost or potting soil. Or, build your gardener a compost bin.

“Better yet,” said Christian, “offer to till their garden for them in March. That would truly be a dream gift.”

Sharon Dowdy is a news editor with the University of Georgia College of Agricultural and Environmental Sciences.