Social media and gardening go together like compost and seeds. When I posed the question, “What’s the best gardening gift you ever received?” on my Facebook page, hundreds of people responded. Not only were there wonderful suggestions, there also were amazing stories too.
My goal was to elicit responses for a story about annual gifts for gardeners. One of the most poignant comments came from fellow garden writer and radio host C.L. Fornari who suggested, “I’d advise you to make a list for garden gifts for EVERYONE.”
After writing about this subject for a few decades, I appreciated the comment more than she could know. People listed everything from chainsaws to a 100-pound cement pig. Not every item came from the store either; many gardeners appreciate the help that loved ones offered for outdoor chores. Is there really anything more rewarding that spending time together in the garden?
“A lifelong friend gave me an old cigar box full of little envelopes,” Lance Cheuvront posted. “They were all hand labeled in pencil and contained seeds that his grandmother had saved after years of gardening in the Virginia lowlands. It was all heirloom vegetables, herbs and a couple of flowers like morning glories. I grew hundreds of plants from that box.”
The most popular tool mentioned as a gift was a hori hori knife. It’s actually something I gave to fellow Trib columnist Jessica Walliser after the handle on her older knife began to wear. It’s also called a soil knife or weeding knife. The knife has a heavy serrated steel blade for gardening jobs like digging or cutting.
Claire Dusak, outdoor display foreman for the western campus of Phipps Conservatory and Botanical Gardens, is rarely without her knife which she carries in her back pocket.
“It’s one of the best tools you can use. It cuts through the root balls, it measures, it goes through the soil very easily,” she says. “It just has a good feel to the hand. The blade is not sharp but it’s strong and I know I can’t bend this thing. I really do adore this tool.”
Besides her clippers, it’s the only tool she carries for general garden maintenance. Even though it’s technically a soil knife I like the tool from A.M Leonard and it’s only $21.99 (amleo.com).
Ratcheting pruners and loppers also came up, as they make cutting easier for arthritic or weaker hands.
“My husband bought me incredible telescoping loppers that are ratcheted,” Cherie Foster Colburn posted. “My hand strength was reduced after a surgery to fix something else … break one thing and the cure breaks two more, right? Anyway, they make me Superwoman at pruning again!”
Colburn uses a pair from DR Power Equipment ($39.99; drpower.com). There are lots of brands, look for them at your local nursery or garden center.
Here are several other things that came up in the posts. A good trowel, garden journal, a tool tote that fits around a 5-gallon bucket, ergonomic spades and shovels, tool sharpener, lightweight Mantis tiller, raised bed kit, small greenhouse and much more.
Kathleen Musso credits her family’s passion for gardening as one of her greatest gifts. “My parents, who let us help them in the garden, instilled the love of gardening for myself and brothers and sisters. We all have vegetable gardens and the girls also have lots of flowers.”
Marlene Matalski Dimsa shows how important listening is when considering a gift for a significant other. “I asked my husband for a rototiller for Christmas, instead I received a gold necklace. Long story short, I dug my vegetable garden by hand and in the process herniated a disc. So in bed for three months. The necklace was returned. Ugh.”
There are universal things that most gardeners need. I’ve been adding products that I use and love to the Everybody Gardens website.
The Dramm ColorPoint cutting tools (everybodygardens.com) are among my favorites. They are ergonomic, almost indestructible and reasonably priced.
I’ve planted more bulbs this year than ever with the Power Planter Earth Auger (powerplanter.com). I discovered it last season, it’s a big drill bit that fits on a power drill. I’ve used augers for over 20 years to plant bulbs, but this is the best one I’ve ever worked with.
I started using a Cobrahead hand weeder (cobrahead.com) one year after breaking my wrist. It’s another indestructible tool that’s now indispensable.
One thing that came up on Facebook was a simple kneeling pad, there’s one available on the Everybody Gardens site too.
My favorite garden shoes are Sloggers (sloggers.com). They are waterproof, comfortable and slip on and off, so I’m not bringing the garden with me into the house. The shoes come in a wide range of colorful patterns and are available locally at good garden centers.
One thing that always works is a gift certificate to a local nursery, so you’re favorite gardener can get what they really want.
Check out all the posts on my Facebook page (facebook.com/doug.oster.garden). They will give you lots of ideas and a few chuckles too.
Here’s a sweet one from Chris Eirschele, “The best gardening gift I have ever received is when my daughter would take me to my favorite garden center, walk up and down the aisles, pulling the cart, while I loaded up with plants. She is not a gardener, but I so enjoyed being with her and knew she was doing this only for me.”
Find the products here.
Doug Oster is the Tribune-Review home and garden editor. Reach him at 412-965-3278 or email@example.com. See other stories, blogs, videos and more at everybodygardens.com.