Christmas gift suggestions for your favorite gardener

pruningAs the years have turned hairs to gray, it’s been harder and harder to find those unusual gardening gifts for the green thumber. There are fewer and fewer truly innovative ideas short of all the apps available for smart phones and tablets.

How many times can you say a great pair of pruners, such as Felcos, are worth their weight in gold year after year after year? (For that matter, like scissors you always buy a “pair” and not one. Hmmm?) The wide variety of pruners, from left-handed to those for more petite grips, makes it easy to find something perfect for that person who wants to prune perpetually.

pruning branches on a treeGoing one step further, you can find some great loppers as long as you make sure the handles are sturdy and the blades are more scissors-like than the anvil types which do more ­crushing of tissue than smooth ­cutting. And of course, with loppers you can get the type with telescoping handles to reach a little higher in the tree or shrubs. And there’s no better gift for any friend or family member.

Over the years, I’ve always wanted a chainsaw, but then all the news reports come across the desk, and ­videos viewed on the internet, of chainsaw accidents. True, a finger has been nicked every now and then with the pruners and loppers, but it’s hard to cut a major artery with hand tools.

Leaves blower.That being said, the little chainsaws attached to long handle pole pruners are truly a gardener’s dream, such as Stihl’s version. Just remember, even the little chainsaw at the end can cause serious problems, not to ­mention pulse out small particles of oil to cover your eyeglasses. It doesn’t hurt to have a good pair of goggles and earplugs to protect yourself from flying wood chips and the noise.

A good leaf blower also is a ­powerful garden workhorse. There are great electric or gas types; just make sure it has blowing power.

Of course, a good pair of gloves is essential, especially when working with thorny plants, working compost in the ground, or just protecting your hands. Warehouse stores can give you large quantities of gloves, but if the gloves wear out fast, it may not be worth the cost in the long run.

Leather gloves such as Bionics should fit comfortably on the hands without collecting lots of sweat inside. Cotton gloves should feel as nice, but have the extra advantage of being more washable. Some of the leather gloves look fantastic and feel almost like they were pre-chewed by some little elf in the forest. Some folks might think they are too nice to use; don’t give them to those people. Go with the quantity cotton gloves in that case.

Then there are the gardening books. You can find a topic for just about any interest from Japanese maples to Lasagna Gardening to nightscaping with lights. Speaking of ­nightscaping, gifting some landscape lights and installing them is usually appreciated. While I have some solar lights, the ones connected to the electricity are

David Robson is Extension Specialist, Pesticide Safety for the University of Illinois.
David Robson is Extension Specialist, Pesticide Safety for the University of Illinois.

more consistent night after night and provide some interesting shadows.

A gift certificate to a favorite garden center or nursery is great for spring planting in the coming months. Just make sure there is some way the recipient won’t misplace the ­certificate. Experience talking.

Of course, a certificate for ­physical garden work from the giver may ­actually be the perfect idea.

I do want to mention there are many great brands of equipment out there, and any mention is purely for editorial purposes, and nothing is implied by not mentioning other friends. However, there are lesser quality ones too. Do your research.