Home & Garden

Gifts that gardeners will dig

MCT

Red amaryllis flowers take on a festive holiday look when planted in vintage clay pots accented with red yarn and ornaments.
MCT Red amaryllis flowers take on a festive holiday look when planted in vintage clay pots accented with red yarn and ornaments.

If someone on your holiday list loves gardening and plants, you’re in luck. It’s easy to buy for them.

Gardeners always can use another pair of gloves. They’re also usually game to try a new gizmo or two in the garden that will make their work easier or go faster. And if nothing else, no gardener ever has enough plants.

Most of the gifts here, unless otherwise specified, are readily available online. You also can look for them in your local mom and pop retail shops and garden centers, as well as the big box stores.

$30 and under

These make great stocking stuffers, but some are so nice that they deserve to be presents in their own right.

The nitrile coated types are less than $5 a pair, come in great colors, and are warm and durable enough for muddy, cold work but also breathe well in hot weather.

If your favorite gardener tends roses, consider getting a pair of special leather or puncture-resistant rose gloves, tough enough to prevent thorns from poking hands and long enough to cover forearms as well.

For durable protection but also fabric that is soft and fitted enough for finer work, like planting seedlings, consider Foxgloves, which have a cult following. They keep your hands warm in colder weather, but also are cool enough for summer work.

If your gardener loves power tools, get them some good work gloves that are also washable. Go for padded knuckles and palms to absorb impact and vibration, but also gloves made of a material that they can be washed when they get dirty. Some, like Kolumb’s Padded Work Gloves with Touch Screen Tip, even have fingertips that work on touch screens.

$10 and under

Every gardener wants to know if their soil is dry, if their plants are getting enough light, and if the soil pH is correct for the type of plants they want to grow.

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You can find a meter that measures all of the above individually at most garden and home centers. There is also a nifty one, The 3-in-1 Soil Tester, available that measures all three with the same meter.

A Beautiful Plant

All gardeners love plants, especially in winter when we’re so deprived of them on such a grand scale. Selection can be limited, especially in small towns and rural areas.

And I find that as a rule, plants or flowers shipped directly to your home usually look somewhat worse for the wear. So check out local greenhouses, florists, home improvement centers, and even supermarkets to see what is available and then make your decision on what to get.

Flowering plants are a lovely choice, adding beautiful scent and color during winter months. Standard winter flowering houseplants include azaleas, cyclamen and African violets. And, of course, poinsettias and Christmas cactus are holiday favorites. Gardenias are pricey, but have beautiful glossy green leaves and knockout fragrance. Orchids and miniature roses are now widely available at far cheaper prices than in the past. Also, the types you see everywhere are the types that are easy to grow.

For a fun twist, invest in some fresh potted herbs as a gift. Give just one, or tuck a few to several in a basket and top with sphagnum or fresh moss or excelsior. Or find a big, wide, low pot (or bowl) and repot them into that — a perfect kitchen table centerpiece for a few weeks. Not that herbs usually only last a couple of months or so indoors; it’s just too difficult for most homeowners to provide the full, direct sun they demand.

And, of course, there are cute, easy forced-bulb kits you can give. They usually sell the bulb along with the pot, potting soil and instructions. Amaryllis and paperwhites are the two most popular for holiday giving.

l Veronica Lorson Fowler is co-publisher of The Iowa Gardener website at www.theiowagardener.com.

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