Some are sensible, some are sorta silly; there's just got to be one item in the list to please the gardener you love. (Hint: if the gardener you love is ME, you've got 26 ideas now!)
Amaryllis - An amateur or average gardener will enjoy an Amaryllis kit, and kits are sold everywhere in December. Target is offering Smith and Hawken brand kits, which include a ceramic pot, for a mere ten dollars. All the kits I've seen offer a choice of three colors (cultivars): 'Red Lion','Christmas Gift' (white), or 'Apple Blossom' (pink). For the experienced gardener, order an uncommon, and still well within the budget, Amaryllis (Hippeastrum) bulb like one of these at Bloomingbulb.com.
Black oil sunflower seed is a favorite food of many songbirds, and songbirds are treasured by many gardeners. Squirrels love this seed too. You might want to fortify this gift with a squirrel-proof bird feeder.
Crocs - Those blubbery looking, holey, clog style shoes are quite popular as garden footwear. Easy on, durable, wash with a hose--what's not to love? Some wearers are so devoted they confess to developing a patterned tan reflective of the little holes in the shoe top. That's garden dedication!
Dave's Garden - (of course!) A gardener without DG is like a butterfly without wings! If your green thumb friend hasn't heard of Dave's Garden, get her started with a newsletter and free membership. (Once she's used PlantFiles, I'll bet she'll be hooked.) A trial subscription with full feature access is a real deal at only five dollars. If your giftee is already a subscriber, extend her subscription for a year.
Encyclopedia - Beginner and advanced gardeners alike enjoy the wealth of information and sometimes fresh perspectives they find in a new, encyclopedia style book. I'll bet your bookstore has a few general ones that will please many a home gardener. Again, advanced plant addicts may want more specialized books that focus on certain types of plants or genres of gardening. Browse a selection of encyclopedia style books here in Dave's Garden Bookworm.
Fertilizer is a necessity for even the best gardener. Miracle Gro water soluble All Purpose Plant Food contains a good balance of the major nutrients and minor minerals, and can be used on indoor and outdoor plants all year. For the strictly organic plant lover, buy a seaweed or fish based soluble fertilizer. (Trust me, it will not make the indoor garden smell like a cat food factory.)
Gloves - If you don't garden you may not know about one of the best recent developments in garden "technology": knit gloves with synthetic coated gripping surfaces. These dipped gloves are surprisingly tough, durable and comfortable. Even gardeners who "hate gloves" may tolerate these. Find them at most garden centers or hardware stores year round, or order them; Atlas is a popular brand.
Hand cream - No watery lotion allowed. Hard working hands need hand or "body" creams with truly effective ingredients like cocoa butter, shea butter, lanolin or glycerin. Buy a pretty and perfumey cream at Bath and Body Works, go rustic with Bag Balm, shop easy at the corner drugstore for Neutrogena Original Hand Cream, or get creative and make your own.
Ideas in the form of a magazine subscription. Tailor your choice to your loved one, choose for example:
Birds and Blooms is down homey and comfortable, with a "my backyard to yours" style;
Fine Gardening has a more "refined" feel;
Horticulture is for the serious or potentially serious plantperson;
Organic Gardening teaches the chemical free way in gardening and more.
Jewels, but not the kind you wear with your evening gown. Plantable jewels are more precious than gems-- to the plant addict! Look for seeds or plants with the word "jewel" in the name, such as Jewel of Opar (Talinum paniculatum,) or the tropical jewel alocasias. Look for "jewel" or a gemstone in a cultivar (Nasturtium 'Jewel', summersweet 'Ruby Spice' ) Use this screen for Dave's Garden PlantFiles to show you the possibilites; just enter your search word (jewel, diamond, etc.) in the box for Common name or for Cultivar, and let the Files lead you to choices and vendors. (What a coincidence, there is an Amaryllis 'Jewel'!)
Kumquat is such a funny name for a fruit, it seems to me. I've never seen, grown, or eaten one but a kumquat would be quite a conversation piece among my circle of plant freaks. Small citrus are generally hardy in frost-free regions, and are well suited to life as a large potted plant. Brooklyn Botanic Garden lists Meiwa kumquat as an "unusual citrus that thrives indoors." Read about kumquats in this article, then use the Plantfiles for vendor information if your local nursery doesn't sell or won't order a kumquat for you.
Load of manure or mulch - I am not kidding! Many a gardener will truly appreciate mass quantities of a wonderful soil amendment like well aged composted horse manure, or enough mulch (and maybe your added muscle) to get the ensuing forking or shoveling done in a weekend.
Micro-mini rose - Those teeny blooming rosebushes sold in the tropical plant or cut flower displays are called micro-mini roses by the pros. Despite their petite stature, they are as hardy as many standard full size roses. This is a rose gift that will live on, unlike cut roses that wilt in a week.
Nylon hiking pants are the best gardening pants ever, according to my personal product reasearch. They're durable, comfortable to work in, water and dirt resistant, and have roomy pockets for plant tags, gloves, clippers and more. Some even zip on or off at the knee for personal temperature control. Find them at outdoor-sports stores.
Organic products are a growing part of the plant industry and some gardeners rely on them exclusively. A kelp meal fertilizer will please any organic gardener, as will a bottle of neem oil concentrate and a refillable spray bottle to mix it in. Bagged fertilizer containing mycorrhizae is relatively new to the marketplace and would likely impress your gardener. A more personal and stylish gift could be an item of organic cotton clothing.
Peppermint oil makes a great rodent repellent, is more pleasant to apply and is probably safer than stinkier alternatives like moth balls. Chances are very good that your beloved gardener has had run ins with the local chipmunks or voles and will appreciate a solution!
Quercus is the Latin name for the oak tree group. Our national tree*, an oak tree would be a grand gift for someone with room enough to accomodate a large shade tree. Maybe your gardener dreams big and hopes to nurture a future champion like the late great Wye Oak of Maryland. On the other hand, you can start small. Take a hike with your gardener, collect some acorns, and plant a special memory.
Rooting hormone- A small, inexpensive but mighty jar of rooting hormone powder will unleash a Dr. Frankenstein-like, life giving skill in a gardener. the ability to root and propagate almost any plant. Give it and stand back!
A solar fountain adds splash to a deck or backyard water feature without the hassle of a power cord. I regretted not shopping at Harbor Freight Tools while they were on sale this fall, but I see on the website I can still get one for $20!
Thermometer- Buy a standard kitchen stem thermometer (0 to 220 degrees F range) at the grocery or discount store. Your gardener can use it in the compost, with winter seedlings or in spring planting. Bonus; it's one of the easiest gifts for the non-gardener to find.
Unusual tools - Gardening usually involves labor that for the most part we gardeners love. Despite the satisfactions of our jobs well done, we do often dream of discovering that fantastic new tool that makes some of the work easier. Buy your gardener some tool that you've never seen or heard of before; it may just the exotic implement for which he has yearned.
Venus De Milo - She's currently on display in the Louvre in Paris; I doubt they will part with her. But statuary makes such an impact in a garden. Perhaps you should look for something more modest, like the traditional St. Francis statue. Peruse the amazing variety stocked at Harper's Lawn Ornaments. (Aha, they even have a life-sized Venus statue.)
Whimsy - Smiles are always a good idea! Bring a smile to the garden with something silly (copper pig watering can) or with a personal significance (a gargoyle for someone who's been to Paris). Harper's, linked just above, has lots of ideas.
Xanthosoma - Don't be alarmed by that strange word. It refers to a tropical group of plants. Go to the exotic produce section of your local large grocery store. Look for fat brown blobs labeled taro, malanga or yautia. Buy the biggest one there (for about a dollar a pound). Give it to the gardener labeled as an "elephant ear", a name he will probably know. When potted and kept warm, this bulb will grow huge leaves and become a spectacular specimen by next summer!
Yellow is a feng shui color for good health. Wish your loved one good health with a yellow blooming plant. Annual flower seed choices include black-eyed Susan, marigold, nasturtium, pansies or sunflowers. Perennials selections might be daylilies, yarrow, coreopsis, iris, or sundrops. For an instant gift, go to the florist for some cheery yellow forced daffodils.
Zygocactus - is one of the terms used to refer to tradtional Christmas cactus. Well known and loved, red flowering "Christmas cactus" can be surpsisingly long-lived and thus passed down from generation to generation. Your gardener may not know that other colors exist, so you could thrill him or her with a white, lavendar, or (my choice) peach flowering plant. Or forego the cactus and take this ABC concept full circle; choose a 'Zombie' amaryllis!
* From the Dave's Garden "Today In History" December 15th-- 2004: The United States adopted the Oak (Quercus) as the national tree, four years after the tree won a popular vote undertaken by the Arbor Day Foundation.
About Sally G. Miller
I grew up playing in the Maryland woods, and would still do it often if life allowed! Graduate of University of Maryland, my degree is in Agriculture. Gardens and natural areas give me endless opportunity for learning and wonder. Naturally (pun intended) my garden style leans towards the casual, and my cultural methods towards organic. I like to try new plants, and have "some of everything" in my indoor and outdoor gardens. Thanks go to my parents for passing along their love of gardening and nature, and my husband and kids for being patient when I get lost in the garden.