Between the Rows: Gifts for the gardener
I’m not saying gardeners are greedy, but it is true that it is easy to choose gifts for gardeners. When I wander through Shelburne Farm and Garden or Greenfield Farmers Coop, I have all I can do to hold myself in check. There are so many bright and sturdy items that will please and be useful to both novice and expert gardeners.
The Shelburne Farm and Garden Center has a wonderful collection of pots. So many of us are growing flowers and other plants in pots that a handsome pot is almost always a good choice. Two matching Christmas red pots, different sizes, really caught my eye, priced at $20 and $30.
The glove rack is a temptation. Gloves are always wearing out. MUD gloves are a particular favorite, some made with the wonderfully flexible nitrile, while others are heavier for jobs that require greater protection. Both types cost $10.
There are so many great gift choices from an array of bird baths — ceramic and metal — in the $70 to $90 range, as well as a great collection of bird feeders and sacks of bird seed from $22 to $60. I was particularly struck by the Bird Nester ($19), a wire cage filled with cottony fibers that is available for birds when they are building their nests. It made me think of Patricia Machlan’s tender children’s book, “Sarah, Plain and Tall,” in which older sister Anna is cutting young Caleb’s hair and sets out his curls for the birds to use in their nests.
On my way out of the store, I couldn’t help picking up a few bulbs that were on sale and will be used for forcing. The Greenfield Farmers Coop also has bags of bulbs for sale right as you walk into the store. It might be too late to get bulbs in the ground, but there is plenty of time to force them. A great gift would be bulbs for forcing along with a bag of soil mix and a handsome pot. You could plant the bulbs yourself, or pass it on as a DIY project.
The Coop has a large array of tools. Good quality pruners like the Corona bypass pruner for $30 and the Corona needle-nose thinning shears at $24 would make any gardener happy — though I hope that experienced gardeners long ago learned the benefits of quality tools and already have their own favorites. Although, if they had a second good tool, they might be able to work with a companion.
I was particularly taken with the small, bright-red, fixed-tine shrub rake at $13. I have seen the Flower Brigade ladies using similar little rakes as they tended to their clean up chores on the Bridge of Flowers and saw how efficiently and gently they worked in the borders.
I loved the display of colorful Tubtrugs in sizes of 31∕2 to 10 gallons. These light, strong flexible containers will hold a lot of weeds, or compost, or what you will, in the garden and around the house. I can imagine a wonderful gift of a bright Tubtrug filled with bags of Espoma fertilizer, seed starting mix, twine, Bag Balm and other small necessary and consumable garden items. Prices range from $9 to $27 depending on size.
Compost makings are the result of every meal preparation. A bowl by the sink will serve, but not as handsomely as the lidded one, or 11∕2 gallon Compost Keepers ($27 to $39), in stainless steel or ceramic.
As useful as these practical items are and as welcome as they will be, one could take a different tack to gift buying for the gardener: Luxury!
J.H. Sherburne has a new wing to her portraiture and frame shop in Shelburne Falls called Serious Whimsies for the Garden and Home. I do buy my own tools and consumables when necessary, but I never buy luxurious gifts for my garden like the stone rabbit and hedgehog sculptures for $80 and $30. There is a wonderful big dancing angel planter for $90, but many more modestly priced planters like the stone bowl ($29) with a frog sitting on the edge. This could be planted with a bit of sedum or succulents for a really carefree bit of elegant whimsy.
I also liked the birch-bark baskets and containers that are perfect for holding holiday greens and decorations. The large flat basket ($30) would work as a handsome wreath substitute on the front door filled with greens. Smaller baskets — round and square — cost $9 to $19. You can even buy silk flowers and greenery to fill them if you wish.
Of course, some of us might like to luxuriate in our gardens by wearing beautiful garden-inspired jewelry. Sherburne has a small curated collection of delicate silver pins, a dragonfly ($50), a fern frond ($36) and a gold and silver sunflower bracelet ($100).
Though small, the shop is a treasure trove of whimsical delights. A fancy soap is shaped like a heavily frosted cupcake and the scented candles come in little milk bottles.
There are many ways to shop for gifts. Sometimes you know just what that special person in your life wants or needs. Sometimes you just want to surprise and delight, which can take thought. Sometimes you have no clue. All these shops can provide you with a gift certificate — and gift certificates always make my eyes light up.
Readers can leave comments at Pat Leuchtman’s Web site: www.commonweeder.com. Leuchtman has been writing and gardening in Heath at End of the Road Farm since 1980.