What to give the gardener who has everything? A gift from one avid gardener to another is usually pretty easy. If you’ve spent time with them talking plants, visiting nurseries or touring gardens together, you know exactly what plant, book or ornament they are cherishing.
But it you’re a brown thumb, what does an avid gardener really want for Christmas? To the non-gardener, this can be as hard to comprehend as the pollination strategies of Cherimoya trees. What gardeners usually get is a glossy garden book from Barnes and Noble, a blooming orchid or a cellophane wrapped “gift basket” from the local garden center. Well intentioned, but to a true gardener it’s a bit like a cherry tree in Newport Beach, it doesn’t quite work.
If you’re the gardener, in a non-gardening family, I suggest you leave this article accidentally laying on the coffee table this weekend, where someone else might accidentally stumble upon it.
When gardeners dream, they dream of being in beautiful gardens, but not just of looking at a wonderful garden. They dream of experiencing a garden; digging in it, trimming it, maintaining it, smelling it and touching it.
The tools of gardeners are one of the most personal of all their possessions. To most accomplished gardeners the best pruning shears in the world have always been made by the Swiss company Felco. Last year, Felco celebrated their 60th anniversary by minting a few limited edition pairs of their famous pruning shears. Less than 100 of these were distributed to North America. These are very special shears, never to be made again, with hand-stiched gold leather grips and presented in a matching leather case, Each pair is numbered on the blade and accompanied by a certificate of authenticity signed by Felco’s CEO, President and CFO. Wow. Not that’s a gift!
Most gardeners who invest a lot of time in their garden have a special pair of shoes they prefer to do their gardening in. The most popular garden shoes, as well as my favorites, are those made by The Original Muck Boot Company. The company offers a few styles, but the best for gardeners is surprisingly called the Camp Shoe. With a more rigid sole, waterproof qualities, full lining and easy-on/easy-off convenience; it may be the perfect garden shoe.
Surprisingly, I found the board game Gardenopoly a lot of fun to play, even though my teenage daughter usually beats me. This is the gardeners version of Monopoly, where different breeds of plants are used instead of properties (poison ivy replaces Mediterranean Ave. and orchids replace Boardwalk), you build flower gardens (with clay pots and greenhouses instead of houses and hotels) and the game pieces are a wheelbarrow, ladybug and gardening clog, to name a few. It’s a game that will really grow on you.
Almost any gardener will enjoy a gift membership to a great botanical garden. The Huntington Botanical Gardens (www.huntington.org), in San Marino, an hour away, is one of the best in the world. Gift memberships to The Huntiington arrive in a beautiful gold gift box and include yearlong unlimited visits for two (one could be you).
Closer to home, Sherman Library and Gardens (www.slgardens.org), in Corona del Mar, also offers gift memberships. Sherman Gardens has invested heavily in their facilities over the past five years and there are many new gardens to see, especially the newly re-created succulent garden. Memberships at botanical gardens are thoughtful gifts and are always cherished by gardeners. Garden memberships not only provide access to the gardens, but they support the work of these non-profit organizations as well. If you’re not certain, you may want to call the garden’s membership office to make sure the recipient doesn’t already have a membership.
Now, go grab a red pen and circle one or two of these gifts. Then, carefully fold the paper with this article face up and place it in a prominent location.
There’s still time to bring back that book with the pretty plant pictures and get a gift that a gardener will really cherish.
Ron Vanderhoff is the Nursery Manager at Roger’s Gardens, Corona del Mar
I agree with you Ron about buying a high quality set of pruning tools that will last, such as a Felco product, but as an insider in the horticulture tool manufacturing industry, there are many of us that would have a difference of opinion on the quality of both Corona and Fiskars products. These companies seem to be primarily focused on the big-box store market and not on the needs of the professional or commercial user.
Excellent comments Steve. I think the important message here is “quality tools”. Every great cook has a different favorite knife brand, golfers differ on the best golf clubs and then don’t even talk about cars, phones or computers – ha, there is no agreement. Most important, is that every great cook, golfer – or gardener will eventually come to the realization that good equipment makes all the difference.