With the holiday season upon us, sometimes it’s hard to shop for your favorite gardener who can’t (or just simply won’t) articulate what they have on their secret wish list. And, even when you search online for ideas, the majority of suggested gifts for gardeners are compilations of things that retailers think every gardener will love – based on their need to move inventory.
Look no further, I’ve created a list of nine proven and tested gardening focused gifts – based on my own personal experience as a longtime gardener – to ensure you get at an ‘oooh’ and maybe even an ‘aaah’ when you choose some of them for your favorite gardener – or maybe even yourself.
1. Spear Head Spade (SHFD3) – $52
“A shovel?” you ask. Let me tell you from my personal experience – Absolutely YES! This is by far my all-time favorite gardening tool – EVER. I came across it a few years ago at the Boston Flower & Garden Show. Not your average shovel or spade, the Spear Head Spade claims it was “designed to make your toughest digging 80% easier.” That’s a pretty big promise – and I can attest that it’s absolutely true. This ‘Made in the USA’ tool is light-weight but has a very sturdy construction – the handle and blade never bends, like so many other shovels and spades.
My Spear Head Spade was put to the test this fall in my own garden. Over 25 years ago, about a dozen Japanese Barberry bushes were planted along the perimeter of my front yard, inside the fence. They are beautiful shrubs and their prickly nature tends to keep deer out of the garden. However, now that this shrub is prohibited from being sold since being classified as an invasive species, this summer we decided to remove them all. A dreaded garden chore.
I’ve had my Spear Head Spade for about five years now, and always found it helpful when digging in my root-bound garden, but kept putting off the chore of removing these shrubs. To my surprise, this spade significantly reduced the challenge of this feared gardening project. The sharp edges glided into the soil like a hot knife through butter. Had it not been for a few tap roots that were up to six inches in diameter and needed to be released with a saw, the shrubs would have lifted right out of the ground with just this spade in a matter of minutes.
While it may be difficult to gift wrap, you can be confident that this present for your favorite gardener will be treasured and they’ll thank you for years to come. Heck, you should even pick one up for yourself. Even if you’re not an avid gardener, this will probably be the last spade or shovel you’ll ever need to buy.
2. CobraHead Mini Weeder & Cultivator – $21.95
Here’s the other tool I’ve included on my list – and it’s something I’ve already been highly recommending to my own friends for the past year. While some people find the act of weeding to be therapeutic (my mom is one of those people), I find it to be one of the most boring of all gardening chores.
The challenge with weeding is that once you let that task fall by the wayside, you’re in trouble and it takes even longer to rectify your situation. Shortly after writing my Weeding Thyme story in 2017, I received a package from the CobraHead company asking me to try their new ‘mini’ tool (I’m a member of the Garden Writers Association and love when gardening focused companies share their product information with me – receiving the actual CobraHead Mini tool to try first-hand was an added bonus!)
I’d always seen the CobraHead in catalogs but never felt compelled to purchase one. Based on my experience with this tool, that was definitely a mistake. I received mine right after I’d already caught up on my biggest weeding project of the year, so it wasn’t until this spring that I was able put the CobraHead Mini to the test. I absolutely LOVE it and have other friends who have purchased their own who, like me, wish they’d had this tool sooner.
Like the Spear Head Spade, the CobraHead weeder is ‘Made in the USA’ and is extremely durable. It keeps its shape, no bending or breaking, even in the toughest of soil conditions. It’s sharp and has cut my weeding time by more than half. This gift is easier to wrap and will fit nicely into your favorite gardener’s stocking.
3. Gardenologist Tee Shirt – $24
This product is made in New Hampshire by a very cool company called Talk it Up Tees. I live in the Granite State, and love that it’s from a local company. But, I especially appreciate this shirt because it communicates everything I love about gardening.
Honestly, it’s too nice to wear while working up a sweat in the garden, but I love putting it on at the end of the day when I relax to enjoy the results of my efforts. My friend Jane gave this shirt to my mom and me last summer – she found them at a lovely little shop down the street called Amelia Rose Florist. As a recipient of this gift, I think of Jane whenever I put it on. And I love that it’s a V-neck design, offers a woman fit and is very soft cotton knit.
4. Boston & Garden Flower Show Tickets – $20
After the holiday season, as the darkness of winter finally settles in, every gardener looks forward to longer days and the first flowers of spring. While providing longer days are out of your control, you can treat your favorite gardener to an early preview of spring flowers with tickets to this year’s Boston Flower & Garden Show, taking place March 13-17, 2019.
The show features life-sized gardens that are a delight to see just before the calendar transitions to spring. The event also offers an array of lectures and seminars – as well as a gigantic marketplace. (I actually discovered and purchased the Spear Head Spade at this show in 2014.)
According to the show’s website, “This year’s show theme is “The Beauty of Balance” which is a key factor in design decisions, plant and material choices, and in cultivating the right-size garden for our lives and budgets. We explore the harmony we create within our gardens, vases and living spaces.”
While I try to attend the show every few years, I last blogged about the Boston Flower and Garden Show in March 2014 after attending following a very long hiatus. I look forward to attending and writing about it again in 2019.
If Boston is out of your travel zone, search your area for regional flower and garden shows. Most offer tickets in advance and it’s a wonderful, thoughtful gift. Here’s a list of events across the United States. Another option is to tie your visit to a flower and garden show to a travel excursion. I know that one of my bucket list shows is to attend the Chelsea Flower Show in London some day. If you have some frequent flier miles to use up soon, that event takes place in 2019 in late May.
5. Gardeners Nail Brush – $14.95
Alfred Austin said, “The glory of gardening: hands in the dirt, head in the sun, heart with nature. To nurture a garden is to feed not just on the body, but the soul.” This is so true.
But with your hands (and often feet, too!) in the dirt, a good nail brush is a gardener’s best friend. Seriously, this little self-care item is often overlooked until it’s really needed.
For years, I’d been using small plastic brushes in the shower for my hands and feet after a day of heavy gardening, but love this German-made beechwood brush with natural bristles, recently purchased from Vermont Country Store. It’s another one of those items that a gardener may not splurge on for themselves, but it’s a gift that will be appreciated – especially in the early spring after those first few days of venturing out to finally stick those hands deep into the dirt again after a long, cold winter.
6. Gardener’s Hand Recovery – $26
After a scrub down with the Gardener’s Nail Brush from the Vermont Country Store, I treat my overworked hands to Crabtree & Evelyn’s Gardeners Hand Recovery. I first tried another scent of the Hand Recovery almost 20 years ago, thinking it was a lotion. It’s not – it’s a exfoliator and moisturizer filled with shea butter and macadamia nut oils. During gardening season, use this product a few times a week on clean dry hands. After a thorough scrubbing, you simply wash the product off your hands for what seems like a miracle result. Almost better than a professional hand treatment at a spa. (I sometimes use it on my feet, too!)
The scent of this product is clean and fresh, so it’s perfect for both women and men. Even better, it’s created without mineral oil, parabens, or lauryl sulfates. Treat your gardening friends to the gift of hand recovery – it’s easy to wrap or slip into a stocking – and you can make it an even more thoughtful gift by adding a nail brush to go with it.
7. Corinthian Bells Windchimes – $12.99 – $776.98
This is my favorite luxury gift for gardeners. There are several sets of these bells of varying sizes across my garden. The 65″ black bells hang from a tree in the back garden. My mother refers to them as the church bells (the garden is our church). There’s nothing more calming than the soothing sounds of these chimes. Sometimes it’s just a simple plink here and there. On more windy days, the sounds are symphonic.
Don’t settle for just any chime – a little investment in the quality of QMT Windchimes‘ Corinthian Bells – made in Vermont is worth every penny. If you’re not shopping for the holidays, keep this gift in mind for house warming gifts.
8. Dirt! Specifically Coast of Maine Organic Products (Gift Certificates!)
If you’ve read my previous posts, you already know that I write a lot about dirt (actually soil). After all, what’s a garden without good soil? I’ve shared my ‘dirt’ experiments where Coast of Maine Organic Products was the undisputed winner. And this past summer, I wrote about this company’s products when they supported a Science Cafe event we put together in Nashua on the Science of Gardening. (I am just a happy customer/fan, and don’t work for the company, so my recommendation here is straight from the heart!)
While bags of soil are difficult to wrap as a gift, you can find a local retailer for this product line to ensure that your favorite gardener is ready to start digging come springtime. They have an excellent seed starter mix, and I swear by two other specific products: 1) the Quoddy Lobster Compost (we dressed all of our beds with this blend this past fall to prepare our garden for 2019.) 2. Stonington Blend (I use this for my herbs and lettuce containers and have had constant success throughout the season.) Their fertilizers are excellent too. Visit my friends at the Nashua Farmer’s Exchange to either pick up a gift certificate for spring time purchases – or go all out and gift wrap your dirt – I dare you!
9. Seeds! Hudson Valley Seed Company – $3.95 for most packages
What’s a garden without seeds? The challenge is to find seeds that match the skill and needs of your gardening recipient. Some seeds, like parsley and rosemary take a long time to get established, which can frustrate a beginning gardener. For gift giving, go that extra step and give seeds that make an impact – and offer something really unique.
I discovered the Hudson Valley Seed Company at the Boston Flower & Garden Show in 2014. (I’m seeing a theme through this story that the Boston show has introduced me to a lot of my favorite gardening products and solutions.) And in 2016 was given an interesting variety of these seeds as a Birthday gift.
Recently, I was thrilled to find them at a great little shop in Merrimack, NH – Barn in Bloom. I picked up some varieties of basil seeds last spring. These seeds are packaged as gorgeous works of art. That to me, is a gift within a gift. Better yet, they have seed selections you won’t find at your typical garden center or big box store. Check out the new releases for 2019 from the Hudson Valley Seed Company – and impress your art loving gardening gift recipients. (I’ll admit, I save the packages from the seeds I receive, as well as buy, and hang them in my gardening shed simply to keep the beautiful artwork.)
So there you go, nine creative, but practical gifts for your favorite gardeners. While this list may not be as popular as the annual release of Oprah’s favorite gifts, I can assure you that any of these gift ideas will be appreciated by gardeners at any level.
I’d love to know about your favorite all-time gardening gifts. Share your thoughts with a comment.