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ATV lawn mower? Customized gnome? Trendy gardening gift ideas our expert suggests you avoid.

  • Author: Jeff Lowenfels
    | Alaska gardening
  • Updated: December 17, 2020
  • Published December 17, 2020

The Tertill is a new automatic weeder for the gardens.

Someone close to me thinks I phoned in last week’s mandatory holiday gift column. For one, I didn’t include amaryllis bulbs (wrong holiday!), Cobra Head weeding tools (what, you don’t have them already?), hose-end sprayers or seed germination heating mats (OK, I could have included them). This only proves my point, however: to each gardener, goes his or her own.

Which begs the question of phoning in the column; I did not. In fact, I carefully research what the horticultural industry insiders are predicting will be the trend. Then I search around. I just don’t always agree with what is, or should be, trendy.

I say no, for example, to ANY form of gnome or authentic animal statuary. Really, dinosaurs, rabbits, cute little old ladies bending over? Please, no. Can you imagine a “brilliantly textured fur and markings, realistic Orang-utan?” It is touted as perfect for the “centre stage in your garden.” Skip the velociraptor kit, too.

Hey, I bet you didn’t know you could have a little statue made with a very realistic depiction of the head of your favorite gardener! Fortunately, at $150 or so, you probably are not interested, or at least I hope not.

Oh, I know it makes great copy, The Tertill, a new automatic weeder for the gardens. I looked into it and rejected. This is essentially a mini weed-eater built into one of those robotic indoor vacuum cleaners. You stick protectors around wanted plants and the rest are mowed down to the ground as the unit moves around. Seems to me that mulch is a much easier and probably a more effective system.

Phoned it in? Someone in the Lower 48 — we garden writers have our own secret internet — mentioned The BalKonzept as a gift suggestion and I got excited. This is billed as a “desk-planter combination” to fit over the porch railing so you can sit and type or play games on a computer whilst you look out over your vast estate. Really? This might make sense on a small, city apartment balcony, but we live in Alaska. Besides, get off it and leave the computer inside, for goodness sake.

Finally, because I live in Alaska, several outside writer friends alerted me to the “ATV mower.” They assume every Alaskan has an ATV for moose hunting. For an additional $3,500 you can have a front-end mower attachment to do the lawn. No matter that you could buy someone a really nice riding tractor mower for that with a much better turning radius and not mess up your ATV.

I looked at lots of potential gifts made of glass. These I reject out of hand, as glass does not belong near gardens. Even a beer or wine glass. I looked at a lot of plants, but this is not the time to ship those to Alaska and I don’t know your giftee well enough to know if a certificate to use in warmer times would be acceptable.

Frankly, I have everything I could possibly want to garden and don’t need anything new, including the much wanted offer to help out — which my other half does and then some. I am guessing that the gardeners on your list are probably feeling the same way.

So, instead, a great gift may be to reach out to someone who actually doesn’t have all their gardening needs fulfilled. I am thinking of a gift to Bean’s Cafe, The Alaska Food Bank, The Children’s Lunchbox or other organization that feeds the hungry. I know all gardeners would appreciate hearing you did that in their name. Really, and I am not phoning that in.

Jeff’s Alaska Garden Calendar

Christmas tree Recycling: YES, there will be tree recycling at Carrs/Safeway lots in Anchorage, Eagle River and Palmer from Dec. 28-Jan. 15. Trees must be clean so consider what you put on yours.

Christmas trees: Make sure to check the water in yours twice a day. Not in water? Why not?

Christmas lights recycling: You can now recycle those strings of dead lights at Total Reclaim and the Anchorage Recycling Center.

Alaska Botanical Garden: Go to the site to join and to learn about classes, activities and more. Membership makes a great gift anytime of the year.