Steele: Some gift shopping ideas for gardeners

Garden centres, hardware stores and specialty shops have great gift ideas for gardeners and want-to-be gardeners.

Here are some gardening-related gift ideas for gardeners and want-to-be gardeners.

Garden centres, hardware stores and specialty shops such as Green & Bear It have lots of choices.

If you can’t decide, gift certificates from these businesses would be appreciated.

When buying tools, 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.

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 dead-heading flowers than using scissors.

Gardeners can always use new gloves. I use three types: 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.

Something I always loved to receive was the promise from my brother-in-law of a load of shavings, to mulch my vegetable bed paths, which he duly delivered when I was ready for it.

If you have a truck or trailer you might give a promissory note to haul yard waste to the dump or pick up and deliver a load of soil, gravel, mulch or other materials that don’t fit well in a car.

Labour can be another ‘money-less’ gift. Even if the donor is not a gardener, there are always tasks such as digging, raking, wheel-barrowing materials, mowing, and compost turning that need more strength and enthusiasm than skills. I always loved having a gift of labour from my teenaged son or daughter. They worked hard, and we had fun gardening together.

There are many wonderful gardening books available in local bookstores. If you are buying one as a gift, make sure that it is suited to this climate.

Plants need to have their zone rating included to be able tell if they are hardy here. Plants between hardiness zone 1 to 5 or 6 are suitable for the Central Okanagan.

Books from Britain often do not include zone ratings and ones from the southern states may mostly have plants that won’t survive Okanagan winters. Check the OXA website for some recommended books.

This is my last column for 2012. I’ve really enjoyed having the opportunity to share my gardening knowledge with you and write about gardening events. I’ll resume writing the column March 2013.

If you have ideas for topics you would like me to write about, or comments you wish to pass on, please contact me at info@okanaganxeriscape.org.

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

Gwen Steele is executive director of the non-profit Okanagan Xeriscape Association. Learn more about gardening with nature and plants for the Okanagan at www.okanaganxeriscape.org .

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