More Gifts To Bring Joy To The Gardener


By Andrew Messinger

Continuing this week with some suggestions for holiday gifts for gardeners …For the gardener who has every plant, but none of them labeled, you can give a bundle of Paw Paw labels. These are indestructible metal labels that you can write on with a #2 pencil and they’ll last for years and years. Some garden centers sell them, or you can buy them from Check out their offerings, and there’s even a sampler of label styles for the gardener who can’t decide or likes variety. I’m partial to the hairpin style, as there’s plenty of writing area with a long, 12-inch, strong, thick double wire that gets pushed into the ground and resists just about anything other than my tractor. As noted, you can write on these with a #2 pencil, or for those neat freaks you can print long-lasting labels on a Brother printer.

And there are the ever-welcome gift certificates. I always give a few of these to my favorite gardener because several of the mail order nurseries give a discount when you buy them before Christmas, and that’s 10 percent more plants for me at the same price—so you know who that gift goes to. You can get these discounted gift certificates from Bluestone Perennials at and from Klehm’s Nursery at and from Plant Delights at I deal with all of these nurseries regularly and no, I get no kickback. Like you, I buy the gift certificates … LOL.

Each of these nurseries has a wide variety of perennials, with Bluestone having a large list but of the more common and usual fare at very reasonable prices. Bluestone always ships great material that’s packed well. Klehm’s has several specialties including peonies, hostas and a range of trees and shrubs. Their packing and shipping is second to none and plant material always arrives in great shape. Plant Delights, on the other hand, has selections of some of the more unusual perennials, including tender ones and a great list of hardy orchids. I’m not wild about their packing, though, because they seem to try too hard to be environmentally sensitive in their packing methods, and that’s led to a number of issues on the receiving end. Nonetheless, if your intended is a sophisticated gardener who might want something unusual or challenging, this is the place they will love to shop at.

Now if it’s peonies that you want to give, a gift certificate from might be the ticket. This is a nursery in New Jersey that’s been on my bucket list for a few years, as they seem to have an incredible selection of peonies in all shapes, sizes and colors. Being nearby, for me there’s also the added benefit of being able to get the roots fairly quickly so they won’t sit in a truck or trailer for days on end waiting to get out here. I haven’t purchased from them, but check out their website and note that their gift certificates start at $26. A little strange, but logical since their basic peony starts at … $26.

And if plants won’t make your holiday gifts jolly, how about seeds? Seeds make great stocking stuffers, and several packets of seeds can turn a tentative gardener into a hardcore planter in no time at all. Renee’s Garden has not only great seed offerings but the greatest seed packets. These packets are tiny troves of information on when and how to grow each variety in encyclopedic detail. Renee is offering 15 percent off on holiday orders and you can find her offerings here:

For a shocking gift there’s the mini-electric fence that I wrote about last spring. It won’t keep deer out but it will make rabbits, squirrels, raccoons and woodchucks think twice before they take any samples. I was very happy with the results in my trial garden last summer. It kept my dog out after one traumatic accident, and I can tell you from a few accidental brushes of my own that, while not painful, the shock from the two D cell batteries is, well … unpleasant. It’s the Zareba KGPDC-Z DC Garden Protector, and it’s about $110 online.

And don’t forget the tools. A gardener falls in love with his or her favorite tools, and they should last years and years. Every gardener needs a good spade, trowel or a garden fork. They should be top quality and they won’t be cheap. At the same time they shouldn’t be overly heavy, and they should be well designed. Again, you can find these at our better local garden centers, and when in doubt ask friends what they like and use. Expect to pay $75 and more, but these are gifts as well as investments. Online, check out the for some very interesting offerings and great information. These are well built, well designed and well worth the price.

Last year I reviewed a book, “Aphid in My Eye: Adventures in the Orchid Trade,” in this column, and in short it’s a great book that any gardeners will love. It’s got sex, intrigue, mystery and yes … plants. Orchids to be specific. It’s a quick read, great for lots of laughs, and insightful to the roots of the current orchid craze. It’s also going to raise the spirits of all those who try to grow plants indoors, especially in city apartments. The author is Tom Powell and the book is available for $14.

From you can give the gift of sprouts. For $24 (item #4524) you get six packets of seeds in a “sprout sampler” that includes alfalfa, broccoli, fenugreek, mung bean, radish and “sandwich mix” that will get things going and growing. Instructions are included and you’ll find other items on their website as well. For the new or timid gardener who’s hesitated about getting into vegetable gardening, offers 14 different vegetables in seed tapes. No issues in spacing, thinning or guessing. Just plant the tapes, water and wait. A 15-foot tape of carrots runs about $4, as does 15 feet of breakfast radish. It’s a little pricey, but that’s the cost of those elves putting the seeds into the tapes. And from you can get a collection of seeds for 10 different types of tomatoes (item 00887). It’s a collection of primarily larger tomatoes including Beefmaster, Beefsteak and Whopper Improved, so if your giftee is into the big ones this will be a hit.

Keep growing.

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