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Green Acre #224: Very-Last-Minute Gardener Gifts

TIME’S UP! It’s Christmas Eve and there are still a few gifts to be got. If you’ve a gardener on your list, you’ve got it easy: There are plenty of quick and dirty ways to say it with flowers—and you won’t have to go farther than the supermarket or hardware store (or maybe not have to budge much at all).

Glorious gardens and floral displays are the specialty of Flowers Magazine.

Here’s one you can wrap up without removing rump from chair. Any garden lover would adore Flower Magazine. Every issue of this gorgeous glossy bimonthly is packed with dreamy homes and gardens, tips and tutorials—even when the garden in question is limited to the dining room table. If you can’t pick up a copy, go to https://flowermag.com/ to subscribe, download a photo of a cover and tack on a gift tag.  

Gardeners always need nitty-gritty gear. / Spade and trowel photo, iStock; spike shoes and knee pad, manufacture photos.

Every gardener always needs another trowel or pair of secateurs. This is because the phone always rings when you’re digging, so you put down the tool, wander off and then . . . damn, where is it? . . . only to find it rusted and half buried at season’s end. Having a spare or three is always handy, and just about any hardware store or garden shop will have something for any budget.  

For someone that appears to have even more of everything, here’s a fast track to sprucing up the soil and that rump to boot: Just strap on some aerator spike shoes and get stomping. Excellent aerobic exercise: a gym for the feet, terrific for the thighs and great for the flower border. Like a garden T, these nail-studded numbers ($25 at Home Depot) penetrate the dirt, letting nutrients and moisture sink right through that packed soil.   

Kneeling is a pain in the patella, isn’t it? A knee pad really helps. Lowe’s has a black and yellow foam number for $11.98, that will put that misery to rest— and the bumblebee-bright colors make it less likely to get lost in the shrubbish.*


Sturdy up-to-the-elbow gauntlets protect from thorns, while colorful extra gloves are always welcome.

Anyone with a rose bush or two will appreciate gauntlets, longer, thicker gloves for tackling those thorny suckers without loss of skin and blood. For $13.58 (where do they get these numbers?), Home Depot offers an exceptionally ugly pair, made of “100% synthetic leather.” (Is synthetic leather the same as vegan leather? Discuss.)

Regular gardening gloves are another item a gardener just can’t have too many of. Like socks, one always goes missing—or develops a most impertinent hole. Ace Hardware has a candy-colored 3-pack for $17.99. The orange, lime green and pale blue gloves are stretchy and double-stitched, with an adjustable wrist strap to keep the dirt out. 

Curly willow branch bouquet is $19.95 from Williams-Sonoma. Poinsettia, paperwhites and orchid photos, iStock.

Feel compelled to gild the (gift) lilies? Toss in some flowers. Of course, there are poinsettias, now in stranger combinations than ever: red, pink, white, bicolor, even blue (which, if you ask me, is disgusting). But thinking outside that pot . . .

Just about any hardware store or garden center always has a bucket of paperwhite narcissus bulbs around now, often already set in a little rock garden of a saucer and ready to bloom. If you can find only the bulbs, pop a handful in a saucer (a regifting opportunity!) and add a bow. Those pebbles are really unnecessary; anything that holds a little water will do. A half-dozen bulbs in bloom will deliciously perfume a house for weeks.

I once received a clutch of little succulents, from Trader Joe’s, I’m sure. Such a charming gift, I thought—a little different, and still going strong years later. Trader Joe’s also has those sweet little potted orchids. Since it’s impossible to pick just one color, take three for a sweet tabletop display. 

Curly willow branches are my absolute winter favorites. These used to be hard to find—for years I schlepped them back from the Philadelphia Flower Show—but Wegmans and Trader Joe’s and even flower stands usually have them now. The branches, which are four or so feet tall – are wonderfully dramatic in a bunch of six on a tabletop. Some people just leave them that way, but if you stick them in a vase and add water, within a week or two tiny sprigs of green appear. Give them another week and you’ll have what looks like a tree—a burst of springtime in January.  

Just add a bottle of plonk and it’s a wrap.  

—Stephanie Cavanaugh

LittleBird “Stephanie Gardens” is a believer in lazy gardening and lazy gift-shopping, especially when both have such great results.

*Not a word but should be.


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One thought on “Green Acre #224: Very-Last-Minute Gardener Gifts

  1. Bonnie Mitchell says:

    Darn! Where was this when I was mulling over gift items for friends with the love of gardening? Thanks for the ideas – I’ll save ‘em for birthdays. Yours?

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