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Alaska Life

These gifts for gardeners can be wrapped and put under the Christmas tree

  • Author: Jeff Lowenfels
    | Alaska gardening
  • Updated: December 10, 2020
  • Published December 10, 2020

Lychee sprouting in a pot (Getty Images)

I say it every year: I can’t tell you what gift would be right for the gardener in your life. This is despite Garden Writing Rule 14, which requires at least one column suggesting gardening gifts be written during the holiday season. (It is mandatory, or I wouldn’t do it.) Only you really know what would be the right gift for the gardeners in your life.

So, I look around and find interesting things, but my interest may not be your friends’. That is why I am not sure anyone took me up on the idea of one of those newfangled, automatic lawn mowers when I suggested them last year. Of course, the $5,000 price tag might have been the real reason, and not that most gardeners actually love mowing the lawn and don’t need or want an automatic system to do the chore.

By the same token, it is exactly why I am gifting my daughter a lycée tree seedling this year, something you are probably not getting your daughter or son. I know mine goes gaga over lycées, a real treat to her, and she will really appreciate the thought and the possibilities of growing her own crop even if she lives in Wyoming.

Of course, I could pull a cheap trick and suggest one of my four books. My last book, along with a few packets of autoflowering cannabis seeds, would make a great gift for some on your list. There are lots of other books, of course, and you should be able to find one that will match your friend’s interests. (If you can’t find one, let me know).

On the other hand, I know every single gardener on your list could use a grow light setup, even if she already has one. I am not talking the proverbial two fluorescent bulbs and a shop reflector here. No, check out the new, individual grow systems online. You don’t need to buy from there, but it will give you some ideas that might be appreciated by someone on your list. A more DIY approach would be a small LED light square — or round: search online for “Full spectrum LED lights.”

Normally, I wouldn’t suggest potting soil, as any gardener can buy what they need. However, in these times of COVID-19 isolation, it may make some sense to order a few big bags for a friend who doesn’t get out and about. Local nurseries have adapted and will FedEx supplies for a minimum fee — not like those exorbitant shipping charges when ordering soil from the Lower 48.

Is a gift certificate a cheap trick? I guess it depends on your gardener, not to mention how much you gift! Many gardeners practice specialties, like growing different kinds of tomatoes or cacti. Who wouldn’t appreciate the ability to be able to add to the collection themselves via a gift certificate?

Stocking stuffers? How about an inexpensive “recording” thermometer that tells the high and low temps? That’s always useful gardening information. Google them. Or a new clippers for all those branches we get after a good wind. There are long-handled ones and pruner types, depending on the person and the property involved. Again, use a search engine. The long-handled ones might fit in a stocking, by the way.

Hey, there are even coloring books for gardeners. Check out W. Gary Smith’s “Garden Grotesque.” Or how about the finest heirloom garden catalog every produced: “The Whole Seed Catalog from Baker Creek,” which may be too big for a stocking.

Finally, as I do every time gift ideas are needed, consider an offer to help in the yard or garden. Gardeners always like help and companionship. And, it is probably all your gardener really needs this year.

Jeff’s Alaska garden calendar

Alaska Botanical Garden: Now is the time to join. I didn’t include membership in the column above because it shouldn’t be a gift; everyone should be a member: OK, make it a gift.

Poinsettias: They are here!

Best all around insecticide/fungicide: Neem oil products. They are safe and work on lots of critters.