Gifts for gardeners – that we might actually want


You know all the Christmas gift suggestions we see in gardening magazines this time of year?  So often, they’re new gadgets or doodads, the need for which is definitely in question, and I imagine the poor gardeners having to strain to look pleased at gift-opening time.  And the aesthetics of those doodads? Let’s just say they’re an acquired taste.


So I decided to ask someone who sells gifts for gardeners, lots of ‘em, and find out what people really buy and what she’s heard over the years the recipients are actually happy to get.  I asked the “hardgoods” buyer at a local garden center, and she rattled off a list of popular gifts that almost shocked me with their usefulness and attractiveness.  In fact, I’ll be sending her list to all my friends and family with the “Hint!” implied.   Here it is:

  • Gardening clogs
  • Gardening hats and tool aprons
  • Rain chains
  • Always popular are tools, especially hand tools, especially hand pruners, and especially Felcos (Harris family, take note) and Coronas.


  • Bird houses and feeders are the top gift item in the whole hardgoods department.  Top brands for durability are Woodlink and Droll Yankee, which makes the strongest, easiest-to-clean tube feeder of them all, I’m told.  And to attract the largest birds that are around in the winter (like cardinals), include their preferred type feeder – one that holds the food on a flat surface, not in a vertical tube.
  •  These incredibly useful weather instruments measure light, humidity, temperature and rain, and the Conant brand is tops in this category.  I’ve been dying for a rain guage ever since I started listening to Margaret Roach’s podcast, in which she tosses off the exact numbers and fractions of inches that her garden received in the previous week. Even experienced gardeners are prone to overestimating rainfall, and I’m pretty sure I’m in that camp.
  • The Garden Hopper seat/scooter is popular.
  • Watering cans are a mixed lot, but the Oxo brand is particularly well balanced.  Now would a nongardening gift-giver ever think to ask about this feature?  I think not!
  • A “Compost Keeper” for the kitchen.
  • Dramm wands.
  • For the great of budget, rain barrels and composters.
  • Gift certificates never disappoint.

Readers, would YOU want these?  And if not, WHAT?

Photos taken at Homestead Gardens, and thanks to Michele Cordrey for the information.


  1. Can we start a list of good gardening books?

    Gift certificates to mail order companies are good. I’ll take Old House Gardens, Brent and Becky’s and Baker Creek.

  2. I had to buy my own Felco’s, but that’s okay, I tried out the different sizes and there are the ones with the swivel handle thing, so I got exactly what I wanted. But a gift certificate so you can choose is always wonderful. Even my 4 year old loves gift certificates. After all the gifts that she was given by well meaning people, she could go to the store and pick out things that she will actually play with.

  3. Gift certificates from my favorite local garden center make both me and them happy.

    Rare freaky-ass garden seeds. Lucky for me I have friends that travel all over the world and they have learned to pick up a packet or two at garden centers before heading home. Sometimes it is just the normal everyday stuff after an afternoon spent translating the foreign language on the packets but othertimes it is an honest to goodness heirloom that no one over here has heard about.

  4. I’d love a rain barrel.

    Hmm. I guess that’s what I’ll tell my parents. They keep asking me what I want. I want a standup paddleboard, but that is GREAT GREAT of budget. (WAY OVER the budget)

  5. A new spade would be great, or a promise to pick up after the dog so I don’t have to (kids : hint, hint !). From the Great of Budget folks maybe some of those fabulous large pots from my IGC, or a statue of St Fiacre ( not the drab, somber one, but the one who’s laughing & enjoying the garden).

  6. I want 100 acres of meadow. Why isn’t that on your list? the holiday lists should never have so many practical items. Argh. And an Audi A5 quattro with which to sexily drive around in on my land.

  7. My favorite gift IF it is from someone who knows my tastes, is a really nice pot or planter. One can never have too many, but I never end up buying them for myself. Better yet, my tastes are pretty easy to describe — as long as it is a solid color and not fussily decorated in anyway, I’ll probably like it.

  8. Oh, Joseph – I know what you mean ! I’ve had people give me so many impractical or ticky-tacky pots ! Yes, I know it’s the thought that counts … but couldn’t the thought be simple & useful ?

  9. I’m afraid to acquire Felcos because I routinely lose pruners – which my husband used to tease me about until he was pruning the mock orange, dropped the pruners somewhere in the middle, and we never found them despite knowing where they must be.

    Large tools I am unlikely to lose, so good quality wins there. Time for a new hoe, I think.

  10. How would you bend over wearing a tool apron?

    A gift certificate to my favorite nurseries is always in good taste. Last year, I gave my sister with very small hands an assortment of size small gardening gloves. Christmas cacti, cyclamen, orchids are wonderful gifts, too. Heck, I’ll take a bouquet of cut flowers. Potted bulbs ready to be forced are a good gift, especially for gardeners who don’t have a garden or can’t physically garden anymore. There are also a number of garden books I’d like to have, too.

  11. I miss being near Homestead Gardens. Just a trip there during the holidays to see all their displays and their llamas is a real treat. And you’re just bound to spot something there that you really “need.”

    BTW, today is Green Gift Monday over at the Nature Conservancy site. We posted some green gift ideas on the Florida Native plant society blog:

  12. I’d love a few extra pair of hands that come attached to strong backs 😉

    (Shlepping compost and mulch around a hilly property is only “fun” for so long…)

  13. If you want a really good rain gauge you should check out CoCoRaHS ( They’re a group who has volunteers all over the country measuring precipitation. Their (our) data is used to determine important things like drought conditions, to improve radar estimates of rainfall, and to observe long term climate change (plus it’s really cool when the weather person refers to a report of a large amount of rain in your area and you realize that’s YOUR report).

    Sorry I got side tracked trying to get more volunteers.

    Back to the point. At the bottom left of their main page you can link to their store where they tell you where to get their recommended rain gauges. These are very sturdy, hold a seriously large amount of rain (or snow), last a long, long time and are very, very accurate. It’s the best rain gauge money can buy.

    And if someone gets you one for Christmas you could always try volunteering…

  14. That hollow leg thing doesn’t look big enough. Nice idea, but I think I will stick to my 5 gal bucket. I would like a new pair of felco’s one for the smaller hands. I will never buy anything by Corona again because of their website. I needed to replace the blade on my beloved handy-as-hell folding saw. Hop on their webside, can find no matching number, see folding saw that looks the same and e-mail asking them if it would fit my old handle. All I get back is a terse “No”. Not a “we are sorry, we discontinued that but this is a much better model, please try it and we apologize for the inconvenience.” I want a little sugar coating. Not a coupon, or a free saw, just a little compassion. So I am back to using my bow saw. I did order my husband’s present for me: a hand edger. the kind you stomp on. Hand forged in Holland. Well, he did break my cheapy Lowe’s one. The OXO watering can sounds good. Mine don’t balance at all.

  15. I made a wish list from the Lee Valley tools garden catalog for my family: good knee pads, seeding heat mat, doodad for spreading little seeds, …

  16. My dear husband got me English digging forks for Christmas last year, (and why are Bulldog forks not available in the US???) and he got me a HUGE container of Milky Spore DIsease for my birthday. Wish I could insert a whole lot of little red hearts right here, like a teenage girl. He’s a keeper! 🙂

  17. I’ll take a good wooden birdhouse any day. Watering cans, especially metal ones, are appreciated, and of course, a girl can never have too many pruners especially the good ones, but in lieu of pruners, I’ll take:

    a bottle of seaweed
    a bottle of fish emulsion
    LARGE sacks of good potting soil
    durable hoses, all lengths
    clay pots, large ones
    cotton burr compost

    I have to brag. My daughter has the ultimate in boyfriends because he works in a garden store and he gardens. Last year for Christmas he gave me:
    green sand,
    a quart of fish emulsion,
    a quart of seaweed,
    microrhyzae (spelling?)
    Love him, love him, love him!!! I tell my daughter this is a good reason to marry the man. Oh, and he’s willing to move heavy pots without complaint.

  18. “How would you bend over wearing a tool apron?”,44457&p=10289

    This is my favourite working tool belt, by Lee Valley. Although it has two flaws (on the hottest summer days it catches the heat and sweat, making a patch of sogginess on my shorts; and pointy Felcos in blade-first eventually create a hole in the mesh), it is the best thing to hold said Felcos, folding pruning saw, knife, string, hastily removed gloves, cell phone, keys, tags and notes.

    And it can be worn in front or like me, on the side or backside (easily swung back and forth) and made smaller or bigger according to clothing and weight loss as the summer wears on.

    Good list. I also abhor the ‘cutesy’ garden stuff and stayed away from it when I had my garden store.

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