Published in the Toronto Star – December 23, 2017
This close to Christmas is the perfect time to pick up a last-minute gift for the gardeners on your list. People who enjoy a hobby are often easy to buy for, when you know something about their past time. We have come up with some easy, inexpensive suggestions.
Small is beautiful.
These small items are always useful. Each one of these suggestions is something that every gardener can use:
- Hand pruners. We lose them. They wear out. Hand pruners are used almost daily for cutting flowers to bring indoors, to bring shrubs and tree limbs under control and even to cut a cabbage from the garden. Make your gift a quality pair of pruners that will hold their edge (hardened steel), will continue to open and close a million times without a problem (quality spring), and that feels confident in the hand (try them to know).
- Look for hand protection that is so well thought out that you can grab a thorny rose cane and pick up a dime with them on. Look for calf or goat skin with a neoprene fingertip. The protection of the fingertip will at least triple the life of the gloves, as this is where they wear out first.
- As garden gear goes, a hat is a personal thing. It may be best to send them a gift card to Tilley (https://www.tilley.com) oe Lee Valley (http://www.leevalley.com)
- Stainless steel digging tools. You have your choice of many digging tools that fit into this category: a spade, D- or long-handled shovel, digging fork, or a variety of short handled tools like a garden scoop, trowel or weed digger. Stainless steel provides lasting protection from rust, is generally sturdier than plain steel and no one will argue that it looks very handsome hanging in the shed. Dirt falls off stainless more readily too, making clean up fast and simple.
- Natural jute garden twine (soft and flexible), water soluble plant fertilizer (look for the new line of ‘organics’ by Pro Mix), lawn fertilizer (look for the new Golfgreen Iron Plus 4 in 1 – amazing!), quality grass seed (any other kind is not worth giving away), leaf bags, burlap for wrapping plants and storing vegetables, quality amaryllis bulb that is over 30 cm. in circumference and compost starter.
- Under $20. Spiral aluminum tomato stakes, clay twine dispenser, hanging pot-tower for herbs, garden scissors, hand tools, terrarium planter kit, potato planting bag, water nozzle or other hose-end accessory, sharpening tool for pruners, lawn mower blade, garden knife, stainless steel hose hanger, several packets of garden seed and a stainless steel wash basket for the veggie garden. A cruise through your local hardware store or independent garden retailer will reveal lots of great ideas.
- Seeing as it IS last minute you might want to go online and buy a subscription to a great Canadian gardening magazine like Garden Making. A good read, full of inspiring ideas for garden design and practical advice. (https://gardenmaking.com/) An look for Harrowsmith, now in magazine format (https://www.harrowsmithmag.com/).
- How-to CDs. Look for some of the best garden shows around, fresh picked from Britain (where they eat drink and breathe gardening). Look for Gardeners World for a real treat (http://www.gardenersworld.com/).
- Garden books. The latest Mark Cullen best seller is The New Canadian Garden. It features great advice for creating a pollinator garden, a native plant or water garden, gardening with kids and how to take full advantage of small spaces for a food garden. (http://markcullen.com/books-2/)
And some ideas for the space-challenged or urban dwellers on your list:
- A CSA membership, stands for “Community Supported Agriculture”. Subscribing to a CSA is a wonderful way to guarantee that local produce is getting into your diet, while supporting local farmers. Every week or so (depending on the subscription), produce is delivered or available at a local pickup station. Use the Ontario CSA directory to find a program that suits your recipient, half shares for the season generally start at around $300 (http://csafarms.ca/wp/).
- Passes to Canada Blooms. Give them something to look forward to: the first burst of spring, every year at Canada Blooms. Tickets are available online at canadablooms.com.
- Classes at the Toronto Botanical Garden. An option for the curious-minded person, who has enough “stuff”. The TBG runs courses ranging from “Gardening & Design”, to “Urban Beekeeping”. Classes start at around $30, or $25 for members. Make it extra special – go together! (http://torontobotanicalgarden.ca/category/learn/adult/).