Gardeners are easy to please. Give them a sunny afternoon in the garden and a wheelbarrow of good compost, and they are set. Unfortunately, their easy-to-please nature sometimes make them awfully hard to shop for at the holidays. While it’s impossible to gift wrap compost, University of Georgia Extension’s gardening community has a few good gift suggestions for green-thumbed Georgians.
Paulding County Master Gardener Extension Volunteer Bob wants books. “Reference books for gardeners are a great tool and they can enjoy them any time of year. I would like to have a book on trees of Georgia, because you can never know too much about these beautiful splendors of nature,” he said.
Consider giving a gardener a copy of Michael Dirr’s Manual of Woody Landscape Plants. This is viewed as the “woody plant bible” by professional landscapers and Master Gardeners alike. It contains information about the characteristics, growing requirements and uses for many plants.
For a guide to native trees, your gardener might like Trees of Georgia and Adjacent States by Claud Brown and Kay Kirkman. It contains a key to trees, descriptions and a section with color photos to help with tree identification.
UGA horticulturalist Paul Thomas recommends three books for any Georgia gardener: “Caterpilliars of Eastern North America” a Princeton Field Guide by David L. Wagner; Ball Publishing’s “Diseases of Annuals and Perennials” by Ann Chase, Margery Daughtery and Gary Simone and “Forest Plants of the Southeast and their Wildlife Uses” by James Miller and Karl Miller.
Lifetime Paulding Master Gardener Mickey wants a gift that will make gardening easier on her body.
“My favorite gardening tool is a kneeling bench. I'm on my second one. The older I get, the more I appreciate it. It cushions my knees when I am planting or weeding and it makes getting up a lot easier,” she said. No gardener wants to give up their favorite past time, so tools that make it possible to garden through changes in mobility are a great idea.
Other suggested gifts that make gardening easier include plant stands, a gas-powered trimmer with attachments to handle tilling and other jobs, a blower with a leaf vacuum/shredder feature, lightweight collapsible hoses (ie. TV’s Pocket Hose), a good 16-foot pole saw for avoiding the ladder while pruning and lastly – a really good shovel.
A good shovel can lower the impact of work on your body while you garden, said David Berle, professor of horticulture at UGA and advisor at the student-run UGArden.
“The older I get the smaller my shovel gets,” Berle said. “I prefer a wood handle "D" grip garden spade. A short handle rabbiting — also called transplant — spade is my preference.”
For bigger jobs or for gardeners with a lot of dirt to move, Berle suggests a “d” handled King of Spades — an imposing shovel for when there’s an imposing amount of dirt to be moved.
“It’s unbreakable and can be used to chomp, dig, pry and beat,” Berle said. “If I need something more, I rent a back hoe.”
Other top items on our gardeners list include garden gloves and boots. Quality boots and gloves can make gardening a lot easier. One Clarke County Master Gardener suggests a fishing vest as a useful gift. It has pockets for scissors, twine, wire, hand pruner and seeds.
Berle, never seen without his sun hat, suggest getting your favorite gardener a good hat to protect their face and ears from sun damage.
“Hands down, the best garden hat is made by San Diego Hat Company,” Berle said. “They make a wide range of hats, but the best is the paper braid (yes, 75 percent paper, 25 percent nylon) garden hat … It lasts much longer than a regular straw hat, yet has a similar look and feel. Unlike a straw hat, it can be packing in a suitcase, wadded up, and even sat upon without inflicting permanent damage. It can even be washed in a dishwasher when it gets dirty.”
If your worried about buying the right size gloves, boots or vest for your gardener, but want something more fun than a rake there are always decorative pots, compost bins, new garden scissors or yard art.
If you have a far away gardener on your list, consider a membership or annual pass to their local botanical garden or nature center, said Sheri Dorn, director of the Georgia Master Gardener Program. A visit to a public garden inspires her to try new things in her own garden and in life.
“A public garden is such a powerful place for learning and inspiration, rejuvenation, contemplation, invigoration decision making,” Dorn said. “They are also reflective of the local community and its history. This admission pass is definitely a gift that keeps on giving.”
(Mary Carol Sheffield is the University of Georgia Cooperative Extension agricultural and natural resources agent in Paulding County.)
(Merritt Melancon is a news editor with the University of Georgia College of Agricultural and Environmental Sciences.)