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Gift ideas for gardeners

If you want to give a gift to someone with a yard or garden, I have ideas for you. None of them require mall shopping or time online. A few could lead you to visit a pretty garden center or nursery, and the rest can be done by telephone. Your gift will be a hit.

My qualifications for this? I love getting presents and for 30-plus years people knew that my passion was gardening. And so I have received the best of all possible gifts for my gardens and property (and a few not-so-great, to be tactfully explained later). Here are some winners. Some are services and others are very nice things.

Services and help
I don’t know anybody with extra money that they’re eager to spend on landscape work or equipment or needed soil amendments. These are some ways you can help such people:

• Professional arborist time: If someone has old, precious, or large trees, a gift certificate for arborist work could be extremely valuable for either safety or aesthetics.

Removing dead or diseased branches and lightening the canopy load can add decades to the healthy life of a tree, but it’s something that homeowners don’t rush to do – often until it’s too late. Especially homeowners on limited budgets may not be able to afford to have this important work done.

Jared Webber, of Bradley Tree and Landscaping, also advised me recently: “Tell people planning to buy a new property to have a forester or arborist evaluate the land to look for ash trees; their care or removal could be expensive.”

Call the arborist to pay for a future appointment in advance, and be sure to select well-reputed and certified arborists.

Professional landscaper time: A landscape company – look for the CNLP credential – would be glad to issue a gift for a spring assessment and clean-up for your dollar amount. Go to for a listing.

• Equipment rental: Has your son or daughter talked with you about wanting to start a new garden or to renovate the yard? Does the family have drainage problems? Almost anyone with a large yard would love a gift certificate to use a tiller, backhoe, sod cutter, edger, core aerator, “Ditch-Witch” or similar equipment. Make sure they get good instructions, or a professional to work with them.

Driveway improvement: Every year I need gravel for my old country driveway consisting of gravel over hard-packed clay. It always means spending money I don’t have, although I’m always happy when I’ve made the call and see the Gernatt gravel truck come rolling through. If someone has a more finished driveway (asphalt, concrete, pavers, etc.) the idea still applies: All driveways need periodic service.

Manure, compost, potting soil, mulch: One year I ardently requested and was thrilled to receive a certificate for a load of manure, to arrive just when I needed it. Nowadays I’d opt for a load of high quality compost, or a Big Yellow Bag of garden soil. If your gift recipient plants mostly in pots, give a certificate or some actual bags of a garden center’s sterile potting mix.

The gift of you: Sometimes it’s not comfortable for your parent or your adult child to ask for help. Why not offer a specific number of hours, in your own creative wording, stating that you want to work together on the garden, landscape or building project?

• Garden items: Here comes my opinionated Do and Don’t list, knowing that all gardeners’ tastes vary. It’s safe to say that you won’t go wrong with high quality tools and products. You can go wrong, however – very wrong – with giving garden art or décor. One person’s adorable gnome is somebody else’s Yuck! (And your nephew Jim, to whom you gifted it, will feel obligated to put it out there when you’re visiting).

One more caveat: In the tools world, buy one high quality tool rather than two cheap ones.

Garden center and nursery certificates: The easiest gift of all for your gardening person is a garden center gift certificate. Shopping done – and it’s a great gift.

Pruning tools: Pruning season comes in late winter so a timely gift is a hand pruner, lopper, or pruning knife. I have traditionally used Felco but have had great success with Corona as well.

Other garden tools: New gardeners typically start with awful, cheap or hand-me-down tools. Give someone a great transplant shovel, edging tool, or a sharp hoe.

My friend Bonnie Guckin, a professional gardener and CNLP, says the tool she uses most is a soil knife, called a Hori Hori gardening knife – the one thing to take to the garden if you have to take just one thing.

Seeds: Seeds are a wonderful gift especially if you know what the recipient grows. Botanical Interests, for instance, offers high quality seed packages and products (some found in area garden centers), including seeds for herbs and heirloom vegetables.

Beekeeping support: If your person is passionate about helping pollinators, give her a certificate to Masterson’s Garden Center (East Aurora) for classes or equipment. (It’s the area’s major hub for beekeeper education and supplies). Or just give honey and honey products; it’s the right thing to do.

A CSA (Community Supported Agriculture ) membership or local farm gift certificate: More people are trying to buy local produce and to eat healthy foods. Make it easy for them via your local food co-op, or area farms such as Thorpe’s Organic Family Farm or Singer Farm Naturals – famous for the garlic and tart cherry juice.

Remember the vendors at your own farmers’ market, and give the hard-working farmers a sale.

Our gardeners make our region more beautiful, and grow great food, so I suggest thanking them with gifts that support the passion.

Sally Cunningham is a garden writer, lecturer and consultant.

* In case you missed Sally Cunningham's last column:

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