Steele: Ideal Christmas gift gardening tools

Many items make great gifts for gardeners and want-to-be gardeners (including children).

Check specialty shops such as Green & Bear It on Lakeshore Road (, garden centres and hardware stores.

I recommend investing in good quality, ergonomically designed tools that will be a joy to use for a lifetime. Look for metal rather than plastic parts.

I treasure a Wilkinson Sword trowel my mother brought me from England 35 years ago. Every time I use it I remember her.

Aside from the emotional attachment, the trowel is ergonomically designed. The closest I have found to this in Canada is made by Corona.

Years ago my husband gave me a Bucket Boss canvas tool holder which fits over a large plastic pail. Having everything ready for gardening saves me a lot of time searching for things.

It’s indispensable for holding trowels, dandelion digger, three types of pruners and a fold up pruning saw, scissors, utility knife, Japanese fisherman’s knife for dividing plants, kneeling pad, blank plant labels, Stabilo garden marker pencils and waterproof Sharpie markers, garden notebook and pen, seed collecting envelopes, three kinds of gloves, twine, flagging tape, bungee cords, chopsticks (for some seed planting) and sunscreen.

When I go into the garden, I add my drinking thermos, digital camera and a snack.

That list should give you more ideas. There are many forms of tool caddies.

For someone who has a hard time getting up off their knees, a kneeling stool (see photo) can be used upright to sit on or flipped over to be a kneeling platform with handles to push themselves upright to standing.

A new tool I just discovered is a garden bandit for easy hand weeding (see photo).

Felco and Corona make excellent hand pruners with replacement parts available. There are smaller ones for small hands and left-handed models.

They are expensive but last a lifetime, are much more pleasant to use and cheaper, long term, than constantly buying replacements.

My favourite small pruner (made by Corona) looks like a scissor cutting blade but has pruner handles that spring open so less effort is needed for picking and pruning flowers than using scissors.

I use three types of gloves—Watson’s leather for pruning roses, ones that are waterproof to above my knuckles for cold wet jobs, and my favourite thin, snug-fitting Atlas gloves for everything else.

Another gift idea is a worm farm ( to compost kitchen scraps indoors—great for whole family involvement.


This is my last column for 2012. I’ve enjoyed having the opportunity to share my gardening knowledge with you and write about gardening events.

I’ll resume writing the column in February. If you have ideas for topics you would like me to write about, or comments you wish to pass on, please contact me at

Best wishes for a happy, and great gardening New Year.

Gwen Steele is executive director of the non-profit Okanagan Xeriscape Association.


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