All I Want for Christmas…


The Gardener Who Is Just Getting Started
: If someone in your life just moved into their first home, or was recently spotted stroking the leaf of a scented geranium and enjoying it, they may be showing signs of imminent gardening behavior. You only need these two words to get them on the right track: Felco and Corona. Felco pruning shears are the gold standard among gardeners; they are easy to sharpen and last forever. Corona hand tools (trowels and spades) are forged of solid aluminum and are impossible to break or bend. Both companies put bright red handles on their tools, which not only looks festive under the Christmas tree, but also makes them easy to spot if you’ve dropped them in the garden somewhere.

The Gardener on a Budget: A budget is a terrible thing to impose upon a garden, but sometimes it can’tCopperbird
be helped. Just because a gardener doesn’t have Italian pottery or copper birdbaths in their garden doesn’t mean they don’t want those things. It’s just that when we gardeners are forced to choose between plants and décor, the plants win every time. You don’t need a big budget yourself to buy something luxurious for the garden. Gazing balls, stepping stones, bird feeders, lovely little flower pots—there are plenty of options. The trick is to match the bauble with the gardener. An arts-and-crafts bungalow with copper light fixtures deserves a copper garden ornament, while a Victorian could be matched with an interesting piece of architectural salvage. A gardener with a hip, ironic sensibility might go for a gnome or a pink flamingo.

The Gardener Who Has Everything: Just because somebody has an enormous, perfectly accessorized, always-in-bloom garden doesn’t mean they don’t want garden gifts. Just focus on consumables. Seed packets, in whatever quantity matches your budget, are a wonderful idea. Because each packet only costs a few dollars, the recipient won’t feel obligated to plant every single thing you give them. But if you take a little time to choose an interesting assortment, and write them a thoughtful note about why you chose the seeds you did, they’ll appreciate the effort.

Gloves are also a good consumable. I wear out a pair of gloves every year. It helps if you can sneak a look at their tool shed and find out what they wear, or get an idea of their size. But with prices ranging from $5 for the wonderful Atlas gloves, to $30 for the hip and fashionable Foxgloves or West County gloves, you may be able to pick up an assortment.

The Wonderful, No-Fail, Always Perfect Gift for Any Gardener or Flower Lover: This is foolproof, baby. You can’t go wrong. I promise. Are you ready?

Amaryllis. Florists, garden gift shops, and garden centers may sell them already potted and ready to bloom this time of year, or you may be able to buy a little kit that includes the bulb, a pot, and some soil. But if you really want to make a statement, you’ll buy two or three bulbs and select a gorgeous pot or a glass vase filled with pebbles, which is all these bulbs really need to bloom. Trust me, there is nothing more magical than watching one of these enormous flowers open up on your desk during the middle of winter. It’s the gift that keeps on giving.


  1. Garden-gift-giving for dummies: gift certificates at the best local nurseries. Or even at the local supplier of mulch, compost and stone, an example of which I discovered just yesterday. It’s calling me and my Visa card as I type.

  2. Please no more garden ornaments that someone else picked for me. I would like to choose the decor for my outside. At the moment I’m trying to come to terms with how to mix all the styles I have been gifted with. A gift certificate is wonderful, and then yes of course I will buy plants with it.

  3. For the gardner with small children, a card promising to babysit for a few hours free during prime garden season. The sweetest thing my husband did during those years was to spend lots of time with the kids so I could go to nursuries without toddlers and have time to do heavy duty gardening. Of course he liked spending time with the kids. (Neighbor children use to knock on the door and ask if he could come out and play. Whereas When I pulled into the drive all the children left.)

  4. I used to be that drunken spinster aunt! (Then I got married & had kids. Now Christmas is something that has to be gotten through sober.) One year for Christmas I gave my grandma a pot of Lily of the Valley pips that were prepared for forcing in a dish. She loved having the wonderfully scented flowers in March. They didn’t have the Amaryllis problem of being top heavy & toppling over.

  5. Amy, you’ve given me an idea–all my neighbors need lilies, which absolutely love the sandy soil here in Saratoga Springs.

    As for me, I want world peace, no more vinyl siding or red mulch. Generally, by the time my husband and I have taken care of gifts for the kids, we’re too exhausted to find anything for each other. But I really, really want a grape arbor. There is an ironworker near me who is really clever and inexpensive. Will somebody send my husband his way?

  6. My non-gardening son always sheepishly gives me a gift certificate which I LOVE! But I also think that gift subscriptions and memberships are also great gifts. I just bought myself memberships in the New England Wildflower Society (, the Massachusetss Horticultural Society ( and the American Horticultural Society ( which will bring me magazines and newsletters, info about volunteering opportunities, and lots of general garden information. Membership in one of the terrific and specific plant societies would also be welcome. Information and community. That’s a gift.

  7. I thanked my husband for his gift to me: the six lovely Beverley Nichols books I ordered for myself. I have more than enough stuff, but books don’t count.

  8. I’m very happy being the old drunken spinster aunt, thank you .
    Fortunately or unfortunately, depending on how much I have drank, I don’t live near my tribe of nieces and nephews.
    For Christmas this year ( a repeat of last year’s gift ) I give the tribes a gift membership to the DeCordova Museum which is minutes away from their homes.
    It allows them to visit the outdoor sculpture park and gardens any time they want , take classes at a discount in the art school and partake in specialty events at the art gallery , art school and museum.

  9. I’m there with the “no more garden ornaments” sentiment. I now have so many, I have them labeled with who gave them to me, so I can be sure to dig them out of the pile if the gift-giver is coming for a visit.

    They aren’t even good enough for the regifting pile. How many signs with dorky sayings, and plastic art can one fit into a small garden?

    (Apologies to everyone with plastic art and dorky signs.)

  10. Experiential gifts are the best – public garden memberships, garden books, garden magazines, garden lectures, etc.
    And while your at it, how about paying for the services of a strong back to help out that spinster aunt in her garden for a day of wedding and heavy-lifting projects?

  11. I feel terrible. I am regifting wind chimes that someone just gave me for my birthday. Anybody out there really love windchimes? They would drive us nuts. I mean they are very nice in theory, tasteful and all that.

    YES, you have to be careful about those garden tchotchkies. But a hefty gift certificate to Plant Delights will never go amiss!

    No one has ever given me those plastic signs. You’re not giving out the right vibes, Jim.

  12. Oooh Michelle, I too want a grape arbor! I found a picture of a very nice wood one that allows a table underneath. It even had instructions. I printed it out and showed spouse. His comment? “I wouldn’t build it THAT way.” Hey, I don’t care how you build it, just build it. Love iron, how close ia that talented and inexpensive ironworker to Ohio?

  13. I’ve envied the hen-bloggers so last Christmas my mom bought a flock of chicks from the Heifer Project in my name. They wouldn’t be allowed in my subdivision anyway, and someone who really needed chickens got to have some.

    Annie at the Transplantable Rose

  14. My husband and I wished one year that people would just send us bags of mulch. Or a truckload of fresh, crumbly compost. That’s what we really want!

    Spa gift certificates are a nice gift too — a little TLC for that aching back…after lifting those bags of mulch. 🙂

  15. How about books!? I love gardening books and never have enough! Love all the other suggestions but I am in the pick my own ornament camp. I have gotten some pretty weird ornaments and if anyone ever gives me one of those cut out polka dotted granny fanny gardener’s butts they had better watch out!!! LOL Bird houses and feeders are always appreciated also!

  16. Most of my garden was funded by Christmas presents (money) from my Mother and Step-Mother, including the metal archway which will eventually have honeysuckle and roses growing over it. They are on the other side of the Atlantic so no fear of a parcel containing garden ornaments – in any case I build my own. In return I send them photo.s of the garden in all its glory.
    I agree we all have too many things, so my Christmas spending will be with a charity that provides chickens and goats and garden seeds, tools and knowhow to people in Third World countries who have very little.

  17. I hate to disillusion you, but Corona cast aluminum trowels ARE breakable. I broke one. Okay, so I’m a lot stronger than your average woman, and I put all of my 200-plus pounds into digging out a rock, but never say something is unbreakable. For normal mortals, though, Corona trowels are great. I only go through about one Corona trowel every two or three years–the steel ones resemble a wad of crumpled aluminum foil within minutes in my hands, and anything welded snaps within the first 30 minutes.

    I LOVE gardening gift certificates–either to my favorite suppliers or to Target, Lowe’s and bookstores (online or brick and mortar). I like Target because they usually carry some great inexpensive containers in season, plus the Aleve I need after another day in the garden; Lowe’s because there’s always something I can use for the garden in the store, whether it’s chain for hanging baskets, more drip line, cheap 2-gallon and 5-gallon buckets, bird seed, fertilizer, manure, more wire fence to make compost bins; and bookstores because I don’t know a gardener who doesn’t also like to read about gardening.

    Overall, friends and family have been pretty good about garden tchotchkes (sp?), picking things that aren’t too ticky-boo or cutesy for my tastes. How wrong can you go with a simple bird feeder? The local nuthatches give it four feathers up!

    I also like gardening memberships and magazine subscriptions.

    Be careful when buying gloves as a gardening gift–if you want the gloves to be used, they have to fit properly. That takes a little subterfuge to figure out.

    Garden-themed t-shirts and hats are usually a safe bet. They might not get worn often, but it’s great to sport a cool hat or shirt at a garden event like a plant sale or swap.

    And in spite of all those suggestions, I’m just as happy with a brown paper bag with handles so I can watch the cats play.

  18. Books are good, gift certificates are good, amaryllis are good. But your other commenters are right that garden ornaments are best purchased by the garden owner. It’s hard to shovel the garden out of the blizzard of well-meant garden ornaments that accrue after a few years.

    To change the topic, has anyone else (non-Blogger folks) noticed that the comment fields have changed on all the Blogger blogs. The “Other commenter” option has disappeared, and I can’t leave my blog address now. What gives? Is this a plot by Blogger to make everyone get an account?

  19. My gardening kids are getting books, but then my non-gardening (where did I go wrong?) kids are getting books as well. I’m reading them all first. I have to make certain that they are perfect. Truly. What a mom.

  20. Pam/Digging, Blogger giveth and Blogger taketh away. They gave us the subscribe to comments feature (be careful what you wish for on that one!) but they have taken away the options you mention.

    The only reason I don’t change to another service is that i think it’d be a pain.

  21. I am asking my family for a Mantis Electric Tiller for Christmas, having tried out a friend’s for a few hours two weeks ago. I fell in love…and it will only be $249 on e-bay! I don’t want hand lotion, candles, coats, or sweaters! I want to till in all those leaves that I have stashed under my deck in garbage bags with a my own tiller!

  22. For gifts under $5, buy a big bag of vermicompost or organic fertilizer and pack it up in interesting 1-gallon containers with ribbons or raffia.

    As for answers to the “What do YOU want” question, last year I asked for flowerpots and got some nice ones from people who might otherwise have given me flowerpot jewelry, flowerpot aprons, or flowerpot note cards. The real pots are way better.

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