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Our Annual List! Holiday Gift Ideas for Gardeners

We know the've got someone who loves gardening on your holiday gift list, but you think they might have everything they need.  Not so, my friend!  

The possibilities are almost endless!  This is the Y&G News Annual Gardening Gift Idea List with contributions from UMN Extension Educators who are going to tell you about some of their favorite gardening gifts. 

We'll start with an "easy peasy" one... something ALL gardeners love!

Gift Idea #1: Gloves, gloves, gloves!

Author: Mary H. Meyer, Extension Horticulturist & Professor
Can a gardener ever have too many garden gloves? No! I go through several pairs of garden gloves a season….usually a waterproof style with latex covering the palm and fingers, like Gardena.

However these inexpensive gloves wear out, often with a hole in the finger or getting quite
Foxgloves Gardening gloves.
dirty inside since the gloves are short and dirt can come in through the wrist. 

I recently got a pair of Foxgloves original gloves (a free offer to members of GardenComm, a garden writers association), gloves that I had read about for many years. 

They feel great and while not waterproof (waterproof styles are available), I look forward to using them in the garden. The longer style completely covers my wrist. 

For dry gardening projects, they seem to be perfect. And they are washable…I guess many gloves are but I have not bothered to wash gardening gloves in the past. I will write again to let you know.  

Give your gardening friends gloves, you can always use another pair!

Gift Idea #2: Garden Tools for Kids!

Example of a garden tool bag designed
for young children:
EverEarth Childrens Garden Bag With Tools
Author: Anne Sawyer, Extension Educator, Food - Farm Safety
I have a two-year-old son who really likes to "help," and this includes "helping" in the garden. Anytime I pick up a tool, he wants it for himself; "No, I do it!" is a very common phrase at our house these days! 

To indulge his willingness to help and still get stuff done, we've been seeking out miniaturized versions of our tools that he can use, but my aversion to plastic sometimes makes that difficult. 

Admittedly, I gave in on the second-hand, plastic mini-vacuum (it even has a detachable "dustbuster"!), but for outdoor play, we're trying to find "real" tools that are more durable than the toy versions and can actually help him learn how to garden... eventually. 

Example of a garden tool set
designed for young children:
Toysmith Kids Garden Tall Tool Set
While I haven't purchased anything yet, these items are high on my list - made from wood and metal with excellent reviews. If you are lucky enough to visit the Minnesota Landscape Arboretum this year, check out their garden tools for kids. They carry quality wood and metal products as well.

Gift Idea #3: Pruning tools for every purpose

Author: Julie Weisenhorn, Extension Educator - Horticulture
As a gift for your favorite gardener, there is nothing like a good tool for pruning whether they be small for snipping, bypass pruners or a large lopper for larger branches. 

I must have about two dozen different tools for making various cuts. 

I actually like to collect them and use them. My favorite pruner came from a hardware store in Ratvik, Sweden. I liked it so much I bought two and am still using them 20 years later. 

I have several pruners indoors for houseplants, and in the garage, I have a short lopper, a pole cutter for reach tree branches, and a shears. I even carry a small bypass pruner in my car with a pair of gloves - you just never know when you need to cut something. 
Felco 2 pruners have been made
since 1948. They are considered a classic
among gardening pruners.

Why so many different pruners?

I consider which tool to use the way a golfer considers which club to use. You want to choose the best tool for the job.

Caring for your pruners

Caring for cutting tools includes cleaning them, keeping them sharp and sterilizing them between plants. I wipe down my tools and use a stone to keep them sharp. Between plants, I spray a tool with alcohol and light the blades on fire, letting the flames burn out. 

Bleach is also a possibility for sterilization - just be sure to wipe the tool dry or the bleach can rust your blades.

Read more about pruning tools here: Pruning Trees and Shrubs

Gift Idea #4: Tying machine for vines and more!

Know someone who has a lot of vines or lots of tomato plants? This odd looking gadget automatically ties and staples the tie to keep your plant in place on a trellis or a plant stake. 

Here's what Extension Educator Annie Klodd says about it: 

"I'm asking for a new Max Tapener for Christmas. It's an efficient tool for trellising and training up fruit plants like grapevines and raspberries. It's also an easy way to tie pepper and tomato plants to stakes to hold them up." 

"They just came out with a new model that's easier to use and more ergonomic than previous models."

You can see just how it works in this YouTube video by the tool retailer A.M. Leonard:

Gift Idea #5: Learn how to become a Smarter Gardener--Take a class! 

Author: Gail Hudson, Yard & Garden News Editor, Extension Communications
Want to help your loved one or friend become a better gardener in the coming year? Consider giving them the gift of knowledge! 

I’ve taken many gardening classes and always come away with nuggets of information that I can apply to my own gardening at home or share with other gardeners through my writing. 

Here are some of my favorite places to take classes or a quick workshop: 

Keep an eye out for UMN Master Gardeners' workshops in your county. 

For example, in Pennington County, Master Gardeners are holding a “Gardening and Beyond Workshop,” on Saturday, February 23rd in Thief River Falls, MN. 

It will offer tips on how to improve your home landscape, how to grow raspberries and honeyberries, and will provide a complete growing guide for tomatoes. For an additional cost, you can learn how to make your own floral arrangements. 

Everyone’s welcome, the fee for the basic workshop is only $25 and registration is due by February 15th.  Learn more here.

The Minnesota Landscape Arboretum offers many different classes, workshops and lectures year-round about gardening. 

For example, in January and February you can take a class from our very own Extension Educator Julie Weisenhorn on how to choose the right plant for the right place in your home landscape and garden.

Here’s a link to Julie’s class, Plant Selection: Right Plant, Right Place, Right Purpose! along with other gardening class options.  

Learn how to give one of the Arb’s educational experiences or an Arboretum Gift Card by clicking here

Another favorite resource of mine is the Minnesota State Horticulture Society.

This month, they’re featuring a very inexpensive webinar on planning your garden for the next growing season ($5.00). 

Tip: Classes here are cheaper, by the way, if you buy your gift recipient a membership, which includes a bi-monthly magazine.

And finally, I have had a wonderful time taking the online courses with other students
around the world from Learning with Experts

It's not a non-profit, but this global on-line learning organization has been approved and endorsed by the non-profit Royal Horticultural Society and several other organizations as a distance learning provider.  

You can take gardening courses from some of the world’s top gardening experts like Dutch Landscape Designer Piet Oudolf (think Chicago’s Lurie Garden in Millennium Park or the High Line Park in New York City).  

And like so many places do, they, of course, also make it easy to buy someone a course as a gift. Learn more here.

Here's to some great learning experiences in the New Year...and Happy Holidays from all of us here at the Yard & Garden News!

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