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Archive for Thursday, December 11, 2008

Unusual gifts best for savvy gardener

December 11, 2008

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Some people are just harder to shop for than others. Nongardeners may put the rest of us atop the difficult list, but don’t let us fool you. We gardeners are easy to please if you are sensitive to our interests.

Books on gardening and magazine subscriptions are great, but avoid titles like “Gardening for Dummies” unless you know it is on your friends’ wish list. Also, pay attention to the recipient’s interests — a book on rose gardening is most appropriate for someone who already has roses or has expressed interest in growing them.

Bonsai, orchids and other specialty plants are great new challenges for adventurous gardeners. I am especially excited about all of the succulents (closely related to cacti) on the market these days, even though I killed the first one I owned.

A gardener who also cooks would likely be interested in a mushroom farm or a shiitake mushroom log. Gardeners who hunt for morels in the spring might like to try a morel mushroom-growing kit (guaranteed to produce mushrooms right in your backyard).

A flower press or indoor topiary might be fun for those with an artistic side, but I would avoid the commonly available amaryllis bulbs and windowsill herb boxes unless you know they are desired.

If the garden gift recipient is into tools, they probably already have a favorite pair of pruners and a favorite trowel. Purchase a good-quality tool sharpener or look for items with ergonomic handles that will save those aching muscles. A fairly new tool that is getting rave revues from gardeners is a Hori-Hori knife — it looks a little like a trowel but is serrated down one side.

A magnifier or hand lens is helpful for scouting insects and disease-causing fungi. Newer versions fold to fit into a pocket or are shaped like a pen and can be clipped to a pocket in similar fashion.

Soaps and lotions are available that cater to the gardener as well. My own favorites are bars with scrubbing action for the summer and soap-free cleaners that don’t dry your skin for the winter.

Charitable gardeners might enjoy a donation to their favorite public garden, made in their name, or a tree planted in their honor.

If you are still at a loss about what to buy, make a trip to your gardener’s favorite nursery or garden center — most of them have shops with garden gadgets galore. You could even get a gift certificate for a load of compost or mulch that they can use in the spring.

Now that I think about it, I bet a lot of gardeners would be happy with a load of manure. Who else do you know that would take a load of that?

— Jennifer Smith is the Douglas County Extension Agent – Horticulture for K-State Research and Extension. She can be reached at 843-7058.

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