Six gift ideas for the gardeners on your list

You may think gardeners are the easiest people on your Christmas gift list to shop for: just load them up with dirt and they’ll be happy, right?

This perennial question, like plant perennials, pops up each year. Only this one is not a guarantee like the tulips and peonies and daylilies you can rely on seeing each spring.

People who do not garden might need some guidance. Here is our free assist to the givers:

1. Think like a gardener: an outdoor person who enjoys getting their hands dirty in the cleanest possible way. That is, by pushing their fingers into the soft, life-producing soil that supports plant life. Keywords: fingers … and gloves.

But not just any gloves. We favour the leather type of glove for flexibility, warmth and long use. Look for gloves that have a reinforced index finger as we scratch soil a lot, especially when digging and planting.

The popular and inexpensive polyurethane dipped cotton jobs are great for keeping hands dry and they are flexible, but they don’t last very long. Give multiple pairs if you go this route.

Six gift ideas for the gardeners on your list

2. A gardener works with nature. We do not tame nature, but we partner with her. A pair of quality hand pruners is perfect for taming aggressive growth on trees, shrubs, vines and roses. The best quality hand pruners in the world are Felco. Lee Valley sells a variety of them in the range of $45 to $100. You will wear out before they do.

Buy a sharpener for the recipient, too, to round out this most generous gift. Other pruning tools include limb loppers, a long-handled tree pruning saw, and a hand saw that is designed specifically for pruning green wood.

3. Gardeners enjoy birds. Indeed, this is just one of many reasons that keep us devoted to the gardening experience. Binoculars, quality bird feeders and even a bag of top-of-the-line bird food is always appreciated.

To be sure you are buying quality we recommend that you shop at a birding specialty store. They will generally not steer you wrong, and you will likely discover plenty more gift ideas.

4. Gardeners like to read. After all, we get the winter off and we use it to beef up our knowledge and stimulate our creative thinking about the garden that we dream of.

Winter is reading season for Canadian gardeners. Consider giving "The Gardener's Journal," celebrating its 30th anniversary this year.

Gardening books, magazines, blogs, newsletters and videos are all helpful. Harrowsmith magazine, and the Gardener’s Journal — celebrating its 30th year — are popular. As is a membership in the Royal Horticultural Society in the U.K. Even if you never get over there, the monthly magazine is worth the subscription price.

Gardeners enjoy sharing tips and experiences. A membership to your nearest botanical garden or horticulture society can connect them with other gardeners.

5. Gardeners are social. We enjoy conversations with like-minded gardeners, especially over these next few months. A membership to your nearest botanical garden or horticulture society is a great way to inspire gardeners and connect them with other gardeners.

6. Gardening is an act and a set of values. Most gardeners we know appreciate locally-made, handcrafted products for their homes. Curated collections, such as (full disclosure: our daughter/sister Heather just launched this website) are a good place to look.

Consider a gift card to your gardener’s favourite nursery. Or a donation in their name to Birds Canada, the Nature Conservancy of Canada, or WWF in are all aligned to gardening values.

The act of gardening is one of generosity, with the beauty of a garden to be enjoyed by all. Why not return the favour to the gardener in your life in this season of generosity?

Correction — Dec. 7, 2021: This article was edited to correct the website address for

Mark and Ben Cullen are expert gardeners and contributors for the Star. Follow Mark on Twitter: @MarkCullen4


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