As we have now passed Thanksgiving and are heading straight towards the dreaded “shopping season” anyone who loves, lives with or has a crush on a gardener is facing the age old problem — what do you buy for someone who would spend their last nickel on an unusual bulb or package of seeds when the ground is frozen solid and they can’t get a shovel in the ground. Trust me, it’s almost as hard for us gardeners as it is for those trying to shop for us.
Last year was a crazy anomaly, my ground never froze so I was digging and transplanting and weeding and playing and making new beds all winter long, however if the squirrels are to be trusted, this winter might be a wee bit colder and the ground a lot harder to pry open. So here’s the short and sweet answer to all your problems and issues.
GIVE GARDENERS GIFT CERTIFICATES.
I know, I know, no one thinks its as much fun to open a gift certificate as it is to get an actual present, but you are wrong. Gardeners are a different breed. With a gift certificate to our favorite nursery we can spend the next months imagining which specific plant we’ve been lusting after will now come home with us next spring. Switching from getting an armful of double black hellebores to envisioning an usual dwarf cryptomeria, to using that gift card to chip away at the espaliered apple tree we’ve always longed for, will make the winter months zoom by. In fact I have clients whose eyes glaze over with joy as they recount for me the birthday, the anniversary, or the Christmas they got a whole slew of gift cards – all of them recalling it as being their best gift receiving experience of all time.
So please, gift certificate us. If you have a need for us to unwrap something, there are of course, other gifts you can add in, but that little envelope is the one thing that says, not only do you really love us, it also says you get us. Okay, now that we have that settled, here are some excellent choices for back up gifts. Stick with the traditional. Even if we already have it.
Clippers. A gardener can never have too many clippers. They need a pair, the way my friend Lori Barnaby says she needs reading glasses, scattered within easy reach everywhere. At the moment I have a pair in my car, a pair in the glove compartment of my husband’s truck, a pair at work, two pairs in a basket on the front porch and another in the garage. I also have three different loppers, one of which sometimes lives in my car as well. I also have a car trowel, but as I am particular about trowels, I need to give you some guidance. A trowel needs to fit nicely in the palm of the hand and the butt of it is going to push against the heel of our palms so please, don’t get one with a decorative stud there, or a wrist lasso, it’s just going to give me and your loved one blisters.
Gardeners also need gloves, although many of us forget/prefer not to use them because we like getting dirt under our nails. Look I know we’re a little peculiar, but don’t judge us; love us and get us gloves that fit snuggly. When we use gloves, they really get sopping wet and filthy, the best ones are easily cleaned. They also don’t have to be a fortune, as we’re going to lose them and rip them and destroy them in our endeavors. On that same note, although earth tones are beautiful for socks and sweaters, it makes tools and gloves and clippers very difficult to find when you put them down on the ground for a second to tie something up or push back your hair and then notice out of the corner of your eye the rose bush that needs deadheading only to be distracted by the baby Japanese eggplants crying out to be picked which leads you towards the raspberry patch that needs weeding. Two hours later, when you go to pick up your clippers, it can be significantly less hideous than tracking back through your steps while you try and remember where you put them down, if you can spot them a mile away because they’re colored like a male cardinal instead of the female house wren.
And ask us. I know you want to surprise us, but we’re probably obsessing about something anyway, and although we don’t expect you to understand the subtle lure of Digitalis Illumination Pink, there’s nothing more romantic then a card that says it’s an IOU for three of them as soon as they are available on this continent.
Paige Patterson just learned sunlight keeps male cardinals red from Cardinale, a fabulous shrimp pink and grey bird whose lack of sight means he can’t live outside.