Home & Garden Columns

Garden Variety: Shopping for the Gardener On Your List, Part 1

By Ron Sullivan
Friday November 30, 2007

It’s post-Thanksgiving: socially, it’s December. Time to think about holiday shopping.  

Sure, some people have got all their gift-shopping done, either in mid-July or in last year’s post-holiday sales. They have more storage space than anyone I know, and/or they lack the true Spirit of the Wild Hunt. (You didn’t think the Wal-Mart frenzy had anything to do with that newfangled Christ guy, did you?) The rest of us are just now getting into gear. 

If you have a gardener to shop for, it shouldn’t be too hard. First: You have live stuff to consider. There are seeds, late bulbs, and plants for the garden and house all over the place. In this season an indoor plant is a good idea; there’s no need to worry about late freezes and it’s always good to have one more bit of green living at one’s elbow to make the wait for Spring easier.  

For elegant and practical gifts, go browse at Hida Tool and Hardware. Be prepared to walk sideways, because the shop is tiny and full of good stuff. Sometimes you can find things you never knew you (or your giftee) needed, like cuffs that cover the arm just above glove level, for working on junipers or roses or any prickly plant. They look all superhero-cool too.  

Check out the long-reach pruners, the various hoes and weeders, the incomparable saws, the irreplaceable hori-hori trowel/knives. My personal art-object favorite is the right- or left-handed one-side-beveled grafting knife. This is one piece of shaped metal with a wicker wrap around the handle for a Neolithic look, which would make it retro even if it’s a 500-year-old design.  

Hida doesn’t sell Felco brand pruning shears, oddly enough. Sure, Felcos are a Swiss brand, but where’s the International Luv?  

If you really really love your gardener, consider a pair of Felcos as a present even if she or he already had one. I’m saying this as a multiple-Felco owner, despite one of the major advantage of the brand: You’ll never have to buy another pair because every part is replaceable. Mostly it’s a new cutting blade that’s needed, and that only after several years’ resharpening.  

Felcos ain’t cheap but they’re a good investment. You might spend $50 to $75 on a pair, but those replacement blades cost less than $10 and they make the old pair feel brand-new.  

A sharpener for the blade is a good lagniappe—giving the shears a lick or two before every job, rather like steeling a kitchen knife, makes work a pleasure and a sharp blade is better for the plants you’re pruning too. I have a simple pair of flat diamond files that I’ve almost worn out after 20 years. They cost under $10 together and take up very little pocket space.  

The rub is this: It’s hard to surprise your gift-getter with Felcos because they really ought to be tried on first. There are 14 models, to fit all sorts of hands (including left ones) and uses. I use #8—in case some Felco Fairy would care to visit me.  


Next week: more gift ideas. 




Hida Tool and Hardware Company 

1333 San Pablo Avenue, Berkeley  

(510) 524-3700 or (800) 443-5512 


9:00 a.m.. - 6:00 p.m. Monday—Satuday  

Closed Sunday 


Mrs. Dalloway's Literary and Garden Arts  

2904 College Avenue, Berkeley  

(510) 704-8222 

Mon—Wed 10 a.m.—7 p.m. 

Thurs—Sat 10 a.m.—9 pmm. 

Sunday noon—6 p.m. 



Also try the nearest hardware, nursery, or garden store, e.g.Yabusaki’s Dwight Way Nursery, East Bay Nursery, Berkeley Horticultural Nursery. 


Online: http://www.felcostore.com