Winter Gifts for Gardeners

(to Relieve those Withdrawal Pangs)

winter-windowGifts for gardeners are welcome in winter, for Christmas or cold-weather birthdays. Gardeners don't stop loving to garden in the winter!

What arrives in a gardener's mailbox during the last week of December, first week of January? Yeah, income tax forms, for those who don't file their taxes online. But also...

Seed catalogs!

Nothing is more satisfying for a gardener in winter than to settle down with a mug of something hot, thumb your nose at the snow or nasty weather, and pore through a seed catalog. And it's all the better if you have received...

A gift certificate - definitely a well chosen gift for a gardener! Here are some seed companies I have dealt with, all of whom have given me excellent service. They all offer gift certificates too:

  • W. Atlee Burpee – since 1876, located in Pennsylvania. My grandfather was a truck farmer, and he used Burpee seeds 100+ years ago. I've used them much more recently and been very satisfied. Great marigolds!

  • Harris Seeds – since 1879, located way upstate in Rochester, NY. Their products and service have never disappointed me. I really like their pelleted seeds (for tiny seeds - each enclosed in a clay-based pellet making them easy to handle).

  • Park Seed Co. – since 1868 in Greenwood, SC. I've been pleased with their seeds and garden supplies, including seed starter and potting soil mixes. They carry many hard-to-find flower seeds.

  • Wayside Gardens in Hodges, SC has excellent perennials and shrubs, many quite unusual. They use botanical names so there's no confusion (common names differ in various parts of the country and world). Wayside's beautiful catalog is also a good reference book.

  • Stark Bros. Nurseries and Orchards – in Louisiana, MO since 1816, is a quality source for berries, fruit trees and ornamentals. I've obtained top-rate strawberry plants and asparagus roots from them.

With the catalogs, winter gifts for gardeners might include...

Garden Planning Materials

...either garden planning software or some hands-on planning supplies will give your gardener hours of pleasure indulging those gardening dreams and ambitions:

  • A large pad of good quality white paper or graph paper
  • A large pad of heavyweight tracing paper (get it at an art supply store; it should be heavy enough to withstand erasing)
  • A T-square ruler (I like see-through plastic for this job)
  • A supply of pencils, a soft eraser, and a fine-point pen or two.
  • A mug warmer, so that "cup of something hot" will stay hot!
  • Oh yeah… toss in a packet or two of gourmet tea or cocoa mix!

On the white paper, your gardener can ink in the master plot plan with permanent features like paths, rocks, trees and perennials. Slip that under the top sheet of tracing paper, and pencil in this year's annual crops and flowers. Another tracing sheet for an alternate version, the rest of the pad for different garden plots – or for next year.

More winter gifts for gardeners

A well-written basic gardening book is a useful and greatly valued gift for a gardener. If I could have only one vegetable gardening book, it would be Garden Way's Joy of Gardening, by Dick Raymond. It's packed with smart, useful information and it's very readable, well illustrated and inspiring. I also like the Better Homes and Gardens gardening books.

Grow it Indoors - Here's an interesting winter gardening gift that satisfies the winter urge to grow something: a mushroom kit. It comes complete and ready to go; all you need is a dark closet or corner of the basement. I've had good luck with mushroom kits – it's so rewarding in the winter to grow something fresh for your salad.

Off to a good start - When late winter rolls around (that's March, here in Zone 6), gifts for gardeners might focus on seed starting supplies. There are gift possibilities in all price ranges, from seeds and starter mix or peat pellets, to single or multi-tier lighted plant stands for the new sprouts, to a cold frame for toughening up seedlings outdoors.

Do some detective work and see what your recipient can use. Gardeners improvise a lot, and yours might like to have some real seed-starting flats to replace those cut-up milk and OJ cartons. Or a heated growing mat to speed germination (when the top of the fridge becomes crowded!).

One more thought – late winter is a good time to put up a birdhouse, so it will be ready when Mr. & Mrs. Songbird arrive to set up housekeeping. Choose from the vast array available for sale, or help your child build a birdhouse during winter break for Grandpa's late-winter birthday. Please read the important tips in the "birdhouse" link above.

Winter gifts for gardeners
help them get through the cold months
and get themselves prepared for Spring!

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