Home & Garden Columns
You don’t need an official occasion, you know. If you know a gardener, go ahead and give her a gift just ‘cuz. Call it an Unbirthday Present; I do a certain amount of that with my rellies because after 58 years of living in it I still don’t track time very well.
So here’s a second short list of things I and others have found useful, messing around in dirt.
Body Time, which we old farts remember as the original Body Shop, sells a little round hand-care bar with a string on it like a shower-soap’s. It’s beeswax and other handy ingredients like mineral oil, a bare touch of scent, and stays solid even when I leave it in the car. (In serious heat it greases up the paper it’s wrapped in, and doesn’t ooze any farther than that.) It’s good for fast treatment of dry hands and does not leave them too slippery to grasp the steering wheel, which is why it’s in my car. It’s also good to drag one’s fingernails through before digging in the mud because it’s easier to get the dirt-wax mix out of them afterward than plain dirt.
Comes in two sizes for around $9 and $15; get one for yourself too. Long-lasting enough to be worth the price. Oh—being a solid, not a liquid, it’s also ideal for Homelandishly Secure air travel. Accessorize it with one of Body Time’s funny and effective fish-scale nailfiles for a manicure kit that’s above reproach.
My favorite gardening hat is one that, like the Felco pruners I mentioned last week, needs to be tried on, which tends to spoil the surprise element. It’s washable stiff canvas, in off-white and a few darker shades, has an interior adjustable band to secure it when the wind’s blowing, and a decently broad brim all ‘round, like a cowboy hat but flexy enough to take other shapes. It’s sturdy enough to protect my head from the odd branch I’ve managed to drop on it while pruning.
The fun part is finding it. Parker-Dahl Enterprises (a.k.a Shapeskins, for its line of sheepskin slippers) of Davis sells it; you might have seen them at craft or other fairs, or the March Garden Show in SF. They show up at the Davis Farmers’ Market, and that’s worth a trip in itself. Or call the number below; the Web site’s still under construction.
There’s a gift I can’t have but would be any gardener’s envy. A friend just bought a house in El Sobrante with a perfect-sized yard, and her fox terrier showed me a talent not just for digging, but for digging on command, and in the place pointed out to him. He digs narrow holes, too—a more precise partner than most of the humans I’ve worked with, and easier to please.
Other than a gift-wrapped ton of well-aged horse manure, he’d be the Number One holiday gift. I swear I’d suborn him if I weren’t allergic to him.