Gifts
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I completely understand why Santa makes his list and then checks it twice. For me, figuring out what others want for Christmas is incredibly difficult. Often my wife will ask, “What should we get for so-and-so?” My response, a shake of my head and a shrug of my shoulders. It seems all my good gift ideas pop into my head in the middle of the summer or on Christmas Eve.

Fortunately, my wife knows her stuff when it comes to gift-giving.

Because my job centers on plants and horticulture, I have been getting a lot of emails and catalogs for holiday gardening gifts. The following are a couple of popular gift ideas for the gardener in your life.

Gloves – Hands down, these are the gardener's main tool. Take it from someone who used to do most outdoor work without gloves. I’ve pulled mulch, gravel, plastic, even pieces of glass out from underneath my fingernails. The time a tiny piece of wood mulch got stuck under my nail and got infected was the last straw and I have used garden gloves ever since. While garden gloves can be stylish, remember gardeners are doing some labor-intensive work and even a good pair of gloves will wear out after one year. Many gardeners have a brand they like best, so it never hurts to ask or investigate their garden shed to see what type and size of gloves they wear.

Pruners – There are two types of gardeners, those that buy cheap pruners and replace them when they break and those that have high-quality tools and maintain them for years and years. I could do most of my gardening with hand pruners, a bucket, and a sharp shovel. If you go the route of online garden tool shopping, buyer beware. It has become more regular where those purchasing high-quality items such as Felco pruners from the online retail giants, wind up receiving knock-off, poorly made tools. For online shoppers always check the ‘Seller’ often listed on retail sites like Amazon, Etsy, and Overstock. Or go directly to the company’s website. However, I highly recommend buying your gardening tools at a local garden center and supporting hometown business owners.

Plants – Can you go wrong with this one? Well, yes actually you can. Most gardeners will not refuse a plant, but most gardeners also have too many plants already. Plus, maybe you just gave them their twentieth Poinsettia for this year and they now can’t stand the sight of this living holiday décor. If you are going to be giving a houseplant, do some research! Is it going to be a huge plant? Will your gardener have a spot for it to live? I often think the best ‘plant’ you can give is a gift certificate to a local garden center so the gardener can pick out what they want. I mean, they are going to go overspend on plants anyway in the spring, might as well help them out.

Botanical Garden Membership – An annual membership to a renowned botanical garden may seem nearly useless. How many times will a Central Illinois gardener get to Chicago or St. Louis? Turns out membership has its perks! Botanical garden membership is often reciprocal with other large and small botanical gardens and arboreta throughout the US. Botanical garden membership often offers free or reduced admission fees, gifts, newsletters, access to special events, and more.

What would be my ideal garden gift? Well, nothing much really. Just something straightforward and simple like an automated greenhouse complete with concrete flooring, heated water supply, supplemental lighting, automated temperature controls, and built-in irrigation. You know, not much.

Good Growing Tip of the Week: What is one of the best gardening holiday gifts? Gardening books you can read during the winter months! While coffee table garden picture books are alluring, opt for science-based literature. Illinois Extension has publications available for sale and I do have my own favorite authors like Doug Tallamy and Linda Chalker-Scott among others to recommend.

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