POUND RIDGE, N.Y. — To please a gardener with a holiday gift, think useful. What can he or she do with it in the garden?
Tools and accessories hit the spot; things like trowels, spades, pruning shears, watering cans, gloves. They’re welcome because they easily get lost or misplaced and seem always in short supply.
Utility doesn’t necessarily mean homely. Functional can be beautiful and some items are also crafted to look nice.
Take, for example, so rudimentary a staple as plant supports. Kinsman Company of Point Pleasant, Pa., (www.kinsmangarden.com) offers English-made, 3-foot-tall steel stakes featuring tops in the shapes of butterflies, bees, song sparrows and squirrels in durable black finish. They’re $11.95 each.
Online shopping has made gift hunting a lot easier for people who may not be gardeners themselves but are looking for presents for relatives and friends.
Go to www.garden.com and click your way to a page featuring 28 practical suggestions at prices ranging from below $5 to a blower vac at $89.99. Featured are aprons, shoes, gloves, pruners, kneeler seats, watering cans, tote bags with tools, electric trimmers, wheelbarrows. Click on each pictured item and you get a full description.
Most gardening outlets have web pages today but they still mail out catalogs for people who may rather shop by mail. Looking through this year’s crop, I found gifts suitable to various budgets.
If you’re feeling generous, you can gift-wrap a 16-piece tool kit for $75 from Brookstone’s, 17 Riverside St., Nashua, N.H., 03062 (800-351-7222; www.brookstone.com). The kit includes trowel, weeder, cultivator, transplanter, two pruners, grass shears, kneeler pad, multipattern hoze nozzle, power stream nozzle and six different hose connectors, all in a snap-tight case.
In live plants, amaryllis has long been a welcome gift. If you want to splurge, www.whiteflowerfarm.com offers a “Connoisseur’s Collection” set of eight at $145, each potted bulb berthed in a wicker basket with Spanish moss. In plain green nursery pots the set comes at $119. The firm says each bulb is guaranteed to produce two flower stems, each with at least four blooms, and they can easily be grown on from year to year.
Bulbs may be ordered in fewer numbers, a three-bulb set coming at $62 and a single bulb at $21.
Indoor grow lighting maintains steady popularity for starting seeds and displaying plants. A neat little item comes at $39.95 from www.gardeners.com. It consists of a 9-watt full spectrum light that turns on and off automatically. A moisture sensor tells you when the plant needs water. The unit accommodates a plant up to 12 inches tall in a pot up to 5 1/2 inches in diameter.
For the indoor gardener who is away from home frequently,Gardener’s Supply offers so-called plant minder trays that hold enough water to keep your plants properly moist for two weeks at a time. The principle is that they water from the bottom, moistening the roots.
Humming bird feeders make nice gifts. A California firm named Bird Central (877-461-0903; www.birdcentral.com) offers many models in a $36-$38 price range.
High-tech or old-fashioned instruments to attract both mind and eye come from Wind & Weather, 1200 N. Main St., Fort Bragg, Calif., 95437 (800-922-9463; www.windandweather.com).
If money is no consideration, you might delight your gift recipient with a wireless home weather station at $990. It gives temperatures, humidity, barometric pressure, rainfall, wind speed, wind direction, wind chill.
If you prefer wind direction by weathervane, there’s a huge selection with prices ranging to $1,950 for a hand-crafted copper blue heron. A much more modest, but nostalgically familiar rooster comes at $199.
There are also sun dials galore, starting at $198.95 with a simple old-fashioned one on a 2-foot-tall cast iron pedestal, the dial enhanced with Browning’s verse, “Grow old along with me, the best is yet to be.”
EDITOR’S NOTE: George Bria retired from the AP in 1981 after 40 years that included coverage of World War II from Italy.
End advance for Thursday, Nov. 30