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Master Gardener: Gift ideas for gardeners


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Is there a gardener on your Christmas list? They may have put away their garden spade for the winter but that doesn’t mean they aren’t thinking about their garden or planning for next year. Whether it is a new tool, decoration or book, any gift that is garden related will be appreciated.

It seems that gardeners can never have too many tools. When selecting tools buy the best you can afford. The rule “you get what you pay for” definitely applies here. After polling Master Gardeners about their favorite tool, the hori hori knife was mentioned numerous times. Other tools that gardeners wouldn’t be without included sturdy Fiskars garden shears, the Radius transplant shovel and the Vector retractable garden hose reel.

The hori hori knife is a traditional Japanese digging knife. The word “hori” means “to dig” in Japanese. A cross between a knife and a trowel, it is a great multipurpose tool for digging, planting, weeding or dividing plants. The knife has a straight edge and a serrated edge, making it easy to saw through tough roots. Some knives have a slightly curved blade. Most have inches marked on one side, so you know how deep you are digging. Look for a sturdy design that comes with a belt sheath so you can safely wear it when gardening.

Ergonomic garden tools are designed to make garden chores easier and reduce back, wrist and hand strain. Garden tools with long handles can be helpful when gardening from a seated position and they can help protect your knees. One company that offers a line of ergonomic gardening tools is Radius. They have a line of spades, forks, shovels, edgers and a long handled weeder, plus a bulb auger. The large, circular handles allow a greater range of natural hand positions, avoiding wrist strain. All the tools have a resin-encased steel shaft core and a stainless-steel head and they have generous stepping edges. Their “root slayer” shovel was the 2017 winner of the Green Thumb Award for Most Innovative Garden Tool. This shovel has teeth, literally. If you garden in an area with lots of trees roots you may want to give this shovel a try. Radius also carries a line of ergonomic hand tools as well as pruning tools.

If the gardener in your life hates fighting hoses, they might appreciate a retractable hose reel. There are a number of manufacturers that make them. The main feature is the retracting system that will recoil the hose automatically. They should also have a locking device that can hold the hose at certain length. Many have a 180 degree swivel mounting bracket. Some come with an access panel to give the option of replacing the hose if ever needed or adjusting it. Check the hose length and diameter to make sure it will fit your needs.

Consider looking for a potted plant hand truck if your gardener has many large and heavy containers to bring in for the winter. A Google search came up with several different kinds, all designed to easily transport potted plants. Or look for a landscaping hand truck that can move plants as well as heavy loads such as statuary and big rocks. You will want something suited to lugging plants in from the garden over grassy terrain. Some hand trucks have a curved design that would fit a container better than a flat hand truck.

Protect your gardener from ticks next year by getting them tick repellent clothing. Encounters with ticks and the diseases they carry are on the rise. According to the Tick Encounter Resource Center, wearing tick repellent clothing is the best and easiest way for people to prevent tick bites when they go outdoors. Look for Insect Shield® repellent apparel as it will repel ticks, mosquitoes, ants, flies, chiggers and midges. The repellency of Insect Shield® apparel is EPA-registered to last 70 launderings, the expected lifetime of a garment. The Tick Encounter Resource Center website ( lists several companies that sell a variety of tick repellent clothing, from socks to jackets.

Is the gardener on your gift list also a bird lover? Bird feeders are a good bet as plastic feeders wear out over time. Look for feeders that keep seed dry, are easy to fill and clean. During the winter it is nice to have feeders that don’t need to be filled every day, so look for feeders that can hold several pounds of seed. Quality feeders come in a variety of styles and are available in all price ranges. Specialty feeders for suet, nectar or fruit can expand the variety of birds in your yard. Bird houses and roosting boxes also make your yard more attractive to some species. Add a birdbath deicer to your yard so birds have fresh water all winter.

Gardening books are always appreciated as resources, inspiration or a good read over the winter. One of the Master Gardeners told me, “The more I garden, the more I realize that foliage is there all season, and most flowers are fleeting.” The book “Gardening with Foliage First” by Karen Chapman and Christina Salwitz is on her wish list. This book shows how to build a framework of foliage and then layer in flowers and other artistic elements.

One of my favorite gifts last year was a personalized calendar that a friend made for me. She used photos she had taken of my garden. A lovely remembrance of the garden and useful, too.

If your gardener has “everything” you can’t go wrong with a gift certificate to their favorite garden catalog or nursery. Then they can spend the winter trying to decide which plants or tools they just can’t be without.

(Reference in this article to any specific commercial product or corporation is for general informational purposes only and does not constitute an endorsement or recommendation of any kind by Genesee County Cornell Cooperative Extension or the Master Gardener program.)


Have a garden question? Contact the Cornell Cooperative Extension Genesee County Master Gardeners for assistance. They may be reached by calling (585) 343-3040, ext. 127 from 10 a.m. to noon Monday through Friday. You can also stop in at our office at 420 East Main St., Batavia. For more information, visit

Jan Beglinger is the agriculture outreach coordinator for Cornell Cooperative Extension.

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