You can certainly give a gift certificate to a favorite nursery, but here are some other suggestions for items readily available at local shops and nurseries.Whether you surprise your favorite gardener with something practical or fun, luxurious or a bargain, he or she will likely thank you later with something homegrown.
Nearly every gardener can use new gloves as these items wear out or get misplaced over time. A rose gardener might appreciate gauntlet-style thorn-proof gloves for working with thorny plants. Nice leather gloves are a small luxury for many garden tasks. Vegetable gardening calls for a flexible type, like neoprene-dipped bamboo fabric gloves. These come in a variety of fun colors and can be thrown into the washing machine for easy cleaning.
Many gardeners have designated gardening pants and shirts. This clothing is often a step or two away from the rag bin. Your favorite gardener might appreciate durable jeans with pockets, tool loops and reinforced knees. Add a sturdy, long-sleeved shirt with pockets and your gardener may be thanking you daily. Also consider other protective gear like knee pads or a new sun hat.
Cutting tools make good gifts. High-quality pruning shears can last a lifetime. Gardeners with fruit trees might appreciate a heavy-duty pair of loppers or a sharp new pruning saw. Many gardeners also appreciate lightweight snippers for collecting flowers and herbs.
I polled a dozen Napa County Master Gardeners about their favorite hand tools, and they were all enthusiastic about Hori Hori knives. Those who had them endorsed them, and those who didn’t have one wanted one. The Hori Hori knife is a Japanese tool that looks like a narrow trowel. It’s serrated on one side for cutting and is used for digging, planting and weeding. It can take the place of several other hand tools in the garden.
Plant pots come in endless variety. A vegetable gardener might appreciate small pots for seed starting. For a gardener who delights in containers on the patio or deck, consider giving a one-of-a-kind pot from a local artist or a set of glazed pots from a nursery. Include a bag of potting mix to make it easy for the gardener to put the containers to work immediately.
Gardeners also need containers for corralling tools and for gathering their harvest. These containers may be strictly functional, like five-gallon buckets, or handmade works of art. Think about baskets, trugs and totes. Whatever your budget or your recipient’s taste, there is a container to fit. Add a few seed packets and a bow and you’re done.
Consider a garden book. The New Sunset Western Garden Book, published in 2012, is certain to please any gardener who doesn’t already own it. Napa County Master Gardeners have written a helpful Month-By-Month Guide to Gardening in Napa County, available at the University of California Cooperative Extension office (address below). Or select a book on a specialty topic such as succulents, vertical gardens or art in the garden, or a book of gardening essays. Another option would be a blank book or a garden journal for record-keeping. Browse your local bookstore to see some possibilities.
Most gardeners keep an eye on the weather. Rain gauges and minimum-maximum thermometers are inexpensive devices that many experienced gardeners consider necessary tools. Some gardeners might appreciate more sophisticated electronic weather stations that track multiple aspects of the weather.
And what about the essential items that every garden needs: compost, fertilizer or other soil amendments? A gardener with a large garden might appreciate a truckload of a favorite soil amendment, such as compost from one of the county waste facilities. If you were to offer to help unload it or spread it as well, you would probably find yourself at the top of that gardener’s sharing list next season. For the gardener with less space, the nurseries sell packaged amendments of many kinds. Peek into your gardener’s storage area to get an idea of what he or she prefers.
Still can’t decide what to give your special gardener? Offer the gift of some time. Physical labor is almost always appreciated, as is technical support in setting up a new irrigation system or figuring out how the garden planning software works. And don’t forget to thank your gardener the next time he or she brings you that perfectly grown something from the garden.
Workshop: Join Napa County Master Gardeners for a workshop on “Rose Pruning” on Saturday, January 18, from 10 a.m. to noon, at the University of California Cooperative Extension (address below). January is the best time to prune your roses. Come learn pruning techniques from a certified rosarian. Bring your rose questions. Online registration (credit card only) Mail-in registration (cash or check only).
Napa County Master Gardeners welcome the public to visit their demonstration garden at Connolly Ranch on Thursday mornings, from 10:30 a.m. until noon, except the last Thursday of the month. Connolly Ranch is at 3141 Browns Valley Road at Thompson Avenue in Napa. Enter on Thompson Avenue.
Master Gardeners are volunteers who help the University of California reach the gardening public with home gardening information. Napa County Master Gardeners ( http://ucanr.org/ucmgnapa/) are available to answer gardening questions in person or by phone, Monday, Wednesday and Friday, 9 a.m. to Noon, at the U. C. Cooperative Extension office, 1710 Soscol Avenue, Suite 4, Napa, 707-253-4143, or from outside City of Napa toll-free at 877-279-3065. Or e-mail your garden questions by following the guidelines on our web site. Click on Napa, then on Have Garden Questions? Find us on Facebook under UC Master Gardeners of Napa County.