As leaves fall and there is a nip of frost in the air, our thoughts often turn to the upcoming holiday season and the challenge of finding just the right gift for the special people in our lives. If one of those people is a gardener (or a gardener want-to-be), here are a few ideas that are guaranteed to put a smile on their face.
If your gardener enjoys preparing or consuming flavorful home-cooked meals, an indoor herb garden may be a winner. All you need is a location that receives about 6 hours of sunshine per day—often a south-facing window—and a few herb plants. If enough light is not available, adding a small grow light suspended above the pots will do the trick. You can choose a complete kitchen herb garden kit from local retailers or purchase one online. Or, you can creatively make one using a cute tray, some planting pots or even large decorative cups or jars, and potting soil. Many perennial or cold-tolerant herbs are available for purchase year-round, others can be started from seed.
Some folks like to mark their territory. So how about a sign that identifies the outdoor garden’s caretaker? You can let your creative juices flow when making a personalized sign. Depending on your skills and available tools, a sign can be made of wood, slate, metal or stone. Add the person’s name, e.g., Grandma’s Garden, and some decorative touches such as flowers or butterflies. Painting smooth rocks with paint pens is a great way to keep little ones busy while you are busy with other holiday prep! Alternatively, many online sites that offer to create a personalized garden sign for you.
If the gardener in your life has lots of tools but cannot ever seem to find the one they need when they need it, consider giving them a garden tote. This handy carrier has slots for 8 to 10 tools and a center compartment for larger items like a kneeling pad, small plants in pots and seed packets.
Made by several manufacturers, a hori-hori is a heavy-duty knife with a sharp, serrated blade. At 8 to 13 inches long, it tackles hard jobs like digging in our tough North Texas soil with ease. The knife is made of stainless steel so it does not rust and cleans easily. A hori-hori knife helps chop and remove weeds, plant or transplant flowers and vegetables and can dig down deep to remove stubborn plant roots.
Although a potting bench may be purchased from retailers, for those with carpentry skills making one can be a fun project. A potting bench provides a work surface and a storage area for potting soil, amendments and tools. Many benches also have a sink or depressed area to easily hold residual materials for later disposal. From a gardener’s perspective, a big advantage of a potting bench workstation is the ability to plant, prune and propagate standing up rather than having to bend over.
Gardening helps maintain joint flexibility, bone density and range of motion, which is especially important as we get older. However, gardening tasks that require strength, a lot of repetitive stooping, kneeling and lifting can become painful to do as our bodies age. That’s where ergonomic tools can help make gardening tasks easier on the body by offering longer handles, lighter weight materials and smaller grips. You can find special ergonomic tools at local garden centers or online. Manufacturers are proud of their ergonomic designs and will often feature the Arthritis Foundation’s Ease of Use Commendation on their packages.
Pads to cushion your gardener’s knees are sure to be a welcome gift. Some even come with handles to make getting up and down safer and flip over to become benches for small pruning jobs.
Excitement can come in a small package. Big box stores and even local nurseries often have a limited selection of vegetable and flowering transplant types. But deciding to start some plants from seed offers hundreds of varietal choices. And, starting seeds indoors provides a gardening activity when it is too cold to garden outdoors. Don’t forget to check the packet instructions or do some research first to make sure the plant can grow successfully in North Texas.
Gardening inspiration and information in monthly (or bi-monthly) doses. Magazines specializing in gardening tell us about new plants, successful gardening techniques and how to solve gardening problems. There are several gardening magazines written just for Texas and our State’s plant growing challenges. However, be aware that a gardening magazine may also inspire your gardener to want to create garden and landscape areas.
Although finding a gift for your gardener may require a bit of extra effort, rest assured that you will be rewarded with gratitude for your thoughtfulness and maybe even some home-grown vegetables.