19 December 2010

What a gardener wants, what a gardener needs...

I don't think it's really very difficult to give gifts to gardeners for Christmas. From plants to pots, from garden art to a few yards of mulch, if it has to do with the garden, we're probably going to be happy with it. I do have some suggestions for the late, panic-stricken, longsuffering spouses out there who are trying to figure out what to give their gardener this Christmas season.

I only recommend companies, books, businesses or products that I have experience with.No one has paid me to make these recommendations, though in some cases I've been given products or discounts to try something out. Just so we're clear on that. In many other cases, I've simply bought the product or dealt with the business and am more than comfortable in recommending them.

Such is the case with buying bulbs, which I do through Botanus or GardenImport. Their bulbs are always top quality, huge, and shipped in perfect condition. And here's a case where gift certificates are ideal; we gardeners love to receive gift certificates, which we can use for planning our spring planting frenzies. More on those in a minute. Gift certificates, that is, not spring planting frenzies.

I have two pairs of Ethel gloves and just love them. The newest ones I got are made of bamboo, and are very comfortable, lightweight but easy to work with. That particular style isn't waterproof, but I have others for doing seriously soggy work. Locally, they're available at Halifax Seed, or can be mailordered from Rittenhouse if you're looking for styles not in stock at your local nursery or garden supply shop.

Every gardener likes to receive well made hand tools, whether secateurs or trowels, dibbers or pruning saws. I get mine either from Lee Valley or the Nova Scotian company TrailBlazer. But don't forget the junior gardener, who will be delighted by these rainbow coloured, safe-to-use tools from Lee Valley.

I don't care for a lot of department store garden lighting, especially those horrid plastic patio lanterns or the type that look like runway landing lights. I do, however, very much like the blown glass solar powered lights from Allsop Home and Garden. These are the Aurora Glow String lights, the 'Seaglass' colour. I have brought mine in for the winter, but had them up on the arbour all summer--my only problem was getting a good photo of them in the evening, but that's a fault of the photographer, not the product. I have one of the 'Firefly' lights as well, but I think you really need to have a few of them to make a good effect.

Garden art is always welcome, providing you know what the gardener likes. I got these metal crows from a young artist a few years ago, and I wish I knew where he had moved to--he does wonderful work from these small cutout type sculptures to large pieces in the shape of coneflowers, iris, cattails and more!

I'm sure wherever you are, there are local artisans who do garden-themed work, whether photography, sculptures, plant pots, wind chimes, or jewelry. I found these papier-tole monarch pieces at the Annapolis Royal Farmers Market this summer, but I have other interesting pieces including pewter earrings from Amos Pewter and copper leaf-shaped earrings from The Copper Meadow here in Canning.

I can never find nearly enough garden-themed Christmas ornaments to suit me, but I do have a few, including those created yearly by Amos Pewter in Mahone Bay. My office is filled with garden-themed items, though, from photo frames to clay tiles done by local artisans.

It's no secret that I am highly enamoured of bees, butterflies and other pollinators. Through the wonders of the garden blogging community, I discovered the exquisite artwork of Val Littlewood. I have three of her bee prints, and also her wonderful little book of collected drawings and paintings from her art show back in June.

Gardening and birding are two activities that naturally go together. My favourite place to buy bird feeders and related items is For The Birds Nature Shop in Mahone Bay, who sell a really fine diverse product line. They have garden items as well as bird feeders, baths, houses, weather stations, bird feed, binoculars and much more, and they have very good mail order service.

Obviously, we can't buy perennials, shrubs, trees or annuals at this time of year (at least in most of Canada) and expect them to survive. However, we can give gift certificates to local nurseries, to be redeemed next spring. Most of the nurseries that I patronize offer gift certificates.

I wrote in a recent garden column in the Halifax Herald that gardeners LOVE gift certificates, including handmade ones. We never have enough compost or mulch, or topsoil...or labour to help us with applying those things.

...for those on a budget, a gift certificate for a few hours labour weeding, planting, moving soil etc is a really, REALLY great idea. Or, a gift certificate for a garden consult, for those who are new to gardening or planning a renovation.

For myself, hubby is going to rebuild my greenhouse next spring, and I'm planning on making it a TARDIS-themed structure. Sadly, it's unlikely to travel through time, nor to be bigger on the inside than on the outside. But you just never know.


  1. I do agree that gardeners are easy to buy gifts for. I love your Tardis idea for your greenhouse.

  2. Nice ideas. Now if only my husband read garden blogs....

  3. Thanks for this post which I found highly informative. Glad to hear you are looking after the birds. I really don't like any type of ground feeder as they do attract rats and mice, so I avoid them. The bitterly cold weather in Ireland at the moment is a real pain. That said, it doesn't take long to get to my various feeders and break up the ice. I use a couple of different feeders, a lard bird feeder and a bird feeder pole. They both work well and attract different species. I also use sunflower seeds and peanuts and they seem to like them a lot.

    I am going to buy a solar feeder as the reviews look very good on them and they are an attractive ornament to the garden.

  4. Now those are crows I would love to have in my garden! If you ever find the guy who made them, please pass the info along.
    Sigh...greenhouse...definitely on my "want to have" list!

  5. I do love those little bee drawings. (and covet many of the other items as well!)

    Great selection. :)

  6. Great suggestions, Jodi. Oh, I can't wait to see your greenhouse. Lucky gal.

  7. Jodi, a great collection of items, many gardeners would be thrilled to get them.

    If you ever find out where you got the crows, please let me know. Gar is nuts about them. We did find a artist from BC that makes them, they are wonderful. I can send you the link if you want.

    Jen @ Muddy Boot Dreams

  8. I really liked your gift ideas. I am in love with the crows and would like to look into getting them. Maybe he will show up again. You are right that gardeners are easy to buy for, I think they just appreciate practical gifts more than most.

  9. Some wonderful gifts here that I'm quite taken with. Those glass solar lights are wonderful and I particularly liked the bee prints as well.

  10. OMG you've got a Tardis!!! I am so very, very green with envy. I hope hubs can get it working so you can take this sci fi loving friend on a grand adventure!

    Merry Christmas, Jodi. Your gift suggestions are just marvelous. I'm a Foxglove fan but now I'm curious about the Ethels. Must give those a try. Along with every other cool item you mentioned. :D

  11. Jodi dear,

    I had fun going through this posting and hitting the hot links to do some dreaming-shopping.

    Sending sunshine your way,

    Sharon Lovejoy Writes from Sunflower House and a Little Green Island

  12. Great gift ideas, Jodi! Those glass balls are especially beautiful. And I'm glad you included the tools for children. I've bought several pieces for my granddaughter who is even more enthusiastic about helping me in the garden when she has her own gloves, trowel, and spade.

    I wish Santa would read this post, but I'll settle for gift certificates so I can get just what I like!

    Hope you are enjoying the holiday season, and wishing you a very Merry Christmas, Jodi!


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