Published on 11/11/10

Georgia gardeners offer tips on holiday gifts

By Sharon Dowdy

Newspapers are filled with holiday ads. Wrapping paper and decorations line department store shelves. The holiday will soon be here. If your gift-giving list includes a gardener, take some advice from a few of Georgia’s most experienced gardeners.

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

Augers and pullers

Along the tool aisle, Slagle hopes to get a drill auger for planting bulbs and seasonal annuals, a half-moon edger to create clean bed lines and a privet puller for removing one of Georgia’s most resilient weeds.

“Also known as a weed wrench, a privet puller helps remove this nasty alien invader and reduces herbicide use,” she said. “It’s a little pricey, but it’s worth every penny.”

Slagle also wants to find a garden multi-tool in her stocking. “It’s similar to a leatherman’s tool but it’s for gardeners,” she said. “It’s great for your pocket or in a holster.”

To help care for her tools, Slagle could use a tool sharpener. To cut down on backaches, she wants a portable pot mover.

Hats, aprons and gloves

For function, not fashion, she wants a straw or canvas water-resistant hat with a wide brim. “One that protects me from the sun and doesn’t mess up my hair would be great,” Slagle said. “But, so far, I don’t think they make one like that.”

A heavy-duty apron with big pockets or a pair of garden gloves with reinforced fingers would be nice, too, she said.

Santa would get an extra cookie, she said, if he brought her tickets to a spring garden show or a membership in local botanical garden. “Since I’m dreaming, how about tickets to the Philadelphia Flower Show or the (Royal Horticultural Society) Chelsea Flower shows in London?”

Gardeners like interactive CDs, garden design software or reference books. Her book wishlist right now includes a book on niwaki, Japanese pruning methods, and the American Horticultural Society’s New Encyclopedia of Gardening Techniques.

Santa, please bring a Dingo

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, she says most gardeners would be thrilled to receive a small tiller for plowing garden plots and flower beds.

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

Tried-and-true is best

Arty Schronce, garden writer for the Georgia Department of Agriculture, urges gift buyers to avoid gadgets “no matter how cute the name or clever they sound.”

“People have been gardening for thousands of years. If a new design is found for a hoe, you are not going to hear about it from the infomercial host at 3 a.m.,” he said. “And, none of those tools has ever been tested in hard, Georgia red clay.”

If you are going to buy a tool, find out what the gardener needs and buy the best one you can afford, he said.

Schronce suggests nail care items for the gardener who shuns gloves.

“Gardeners definitely get their hands dirty,” he said. “My friend Tony Clack gave me a fingernail brush which probably cost a dollar or two, but I find it very useful in removing soil from under and around my fingernails and cuticles. It’s a lot better and faster than the old toothbrush I had been using.”

Gift certificates and garden tours

UGA consumer horticulturist Bob Westerfield says you can’t go wrong with a gift certificate to a local gardening supply store. He also suggests tickets to tour the Biltmore House and Gardens, a gardening magazine subscription, a rain gauge or a bird feeder.

Westerfield’s dream gift is a BMW 1200 RT motorcycle, but, unless it can be modified into a plow, that doesn’t classify as a gardener’s gift.

For more ideas for the gardener on your list, call your local UGA Extension agents at 1-800-ASK-UGA1 and ask them what tops their list.

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

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