So your mother, father, spouse or even your offspring loves to garden, and it's up to you to find the perfect gift this year.
I know it's difficult to think about gardening when three months or more of cold weather is looming. Not only that, but the shelves that are usually stocked with gardening items have long been cleared away and have been replaced with holiday decorations.
I hope no one lets any of those obstacles get in the way of finding the perfect gardening gift. Those cold days might keep us from venturing outside very often, but a gardener knows they won't last forever. By the time winter finally gives up, it will be time to break out whatever lovely gift we've received, and that will extend the gesture even longer. Whenever someone buys me a particularly useful gardening gift for Christmas, even if I can't use it right away, when I do take it out to the yard, I always think of the giver. That, to me, is a gift as well.
While the department stores might have gardening items hidden away, garden centers still carry items any gardener would love. Here are a few of my favorites.
I can't imagine getting through spring without loppers. If you're new to the term and don't know what loppers are, imagine hand-held pruners all grown up. These long-handled branch and thick-stem cutters are so important to our spring cleanup that when we thought we lost our pair, we bought another and then found the originals. Now we can't imagine ourselves without both sets, his and hers.
I love my muck boots, especially when I'm in the vegetable garden in spring sowing those early seeds of spinach, lettuce and kale. Mine are plain, green rubber boots, several years old and will likely last several more. But oh, how I long for a pair of those flowery, colorful plastic boots I see hanging on the racks in the garden centers. They make me happy just to look at them. Dry feet are happy feet, and pretty boots make gardening that much more fun.
Gift certificates are always welcome, and I don't mean from the local big-box store but instead the local garden center. There are people in my life who don't like giving gift cards or certificates from stores. They don't believe the gift has as much meaning as a "real gift," or they feel it is cheating when it comes to shopping for someone. Yet I've never met anyone who doesn't get ecstatic when they receive a gift card from their favorite store. This simply means the whole gift-giving process has been extended because not only did they get to open their gift, but now they get to shop.
One of my favorite ways to spend a cold, winter evening is browsing through my gardening books. No matter how many times I've looked through the same books, I always come across a plant or a design idea that I may have mentally noted the first time around and quickly forgotten or that I've missed completely. I recommend anything by Tracy DiSabato-Aust. DiSabato-Aust is an Ohio gardener who has written several wonderful books including "The Well-Tended Perennial Garden," "The Well-Designed Mixed Garden," and "Building Beds and Borders with Trees, Shrubs, Perennials, Annuals, and Bulbs."
I also recommend anything by Michigan gardener Janet Macunovich, "Designing Your Gardens and Landscapes: 12 Simple Steps for Successful Planning" and "Caring for Perennials: What to Do and When to Do it."
Of course there are many other gardening books to choose from, but both of these gardeners, educators and authors know how to teach and when it comes to gardening, you can never stop learning no matter how long you've been digging in the dirt.
Gardeners often ask for strange things as gifts. I once asked for a truckload of paving bricks for my birthday. Others may want the ingredients for making hypertufa containers - various shaped plastic containers, peat moss, perlite and Portland cement. I've seen kits sold online, but buying the ingredients separately can provide enough materials for several projects. Recipes for making hypertufa can be found online.