Here we go with Part Two of my holiday gift suggestions for the gardeners in your life. And what a gift they are to you, by the way.
A few days ago I talked about all the great practical and appreciated gifts that gardeners would love to receive. Today I'm all about the things we don't need.
Some people just love thingamajigs and inventions "sure to make your life easier", and if that's the case, you can leave quietly and go sip egg nog in another room until I get to Part Three in a few more days.
However, just as many accomplished chefs believe you can make good food with simply a pan, knife and spoon, I think that gardening doesn't have to be complicated by lots of specialized tools,widgets and what-nots.
Thus a short and succinct list of things we'd rather you didn't get us.
- Whimsical Watering Cans: Watering cans shaped like elephants with silly spouts or any other shapes that made you say, "Oh, isn't that cute", probably aren't worth a fig. It's funny how good design suddenly makes sense once you've hauled a few hundred pounds of water around in a container that hurts your hand and sloshes liquid all over your feet. Classic watering cans are classic because that's the shape that works.
- Bulb Planters: I'm talking about that device with the small cone-like piece on the bottom of a long handle that you supposedly insert into rich, loamy, crumbly soil (because less than ideal soil like most of us have compacts in the little cone and has to be scraped out, each time), twist and pull to reveal the perfect little pocket-sized hole to nestle your daffodil bulb. Really? Real gardeners don't plant 2 or 3 bulbs. We go for quantity. All you need for planting bulbs is a sharp shovel to excavate big kidney-shaped indentations to house large platoons of tulips that will bloom in natural drifts. Think of all the money you'll save avoiding carpal-tunnel surgery too.
- Garden-Themed Gift Baskets: They look tempting, but step away from the ribboned and cellophaned ready-made gift basket. More often than not they contain cheap and flimsy gardening tools, weedy seeds and some smelly hand lotion. If you genuinely want to encourage or support a gardener, cobble together your own basket, referring to the previous blog post for better ideas.
- Butterfly House: You've all seen these charming little houses, painted in pretty colors with coin-width slots arranged on the front. They look like a little butterfly Motel 6; you can just imagine them, wings folded, all tucked in for the night. Leave it to science-based research to poop that party. It's been found that butterflies won't use them. Plant a few sheltering evergreens though and they'll thank you. If you insist, they can still be used as decorative elements.
- Potted Plant-of-the-Month: Don't get me wrong, we love to get plants, but those catalog offerings are "hothouse darlings" that look good for a week or two and then send us into throes of guilt because even we intermediate to advanced gardeners have a hard time keeping them alive until spring to plant outside. (This entry not applicable for gardeners living in California and other perpetually sunny places. Just plant, plant away)
- Cute Little Containers with Herb Seed Packets: You know what I'm talking about. They masquerade in all form and fashion purporting to be an instant and endearing little windowsill/kitchen counter herb garden. They are not. Even if you faithfully water the diminutive pot that dries out every few hours in your heated home, chances are the light conditions in your home will not support growth beyond a few measly sprigs. See # 5 re:guilt. See # 2 re:quantity
If I sound a little surly with this list it's because I want everyone to have successful, happy gardening experiences. I want things to grow and flourish and bring joy to the person that tended them. A lot of the gimmicks and gadgets aimed at gardeners bring about guilt and disappointment. Many are just another marketing ploy that reinforces the faulty notion that you don't have a green thumb.
Everyone has green thumb potential. It's all about the right plant in the right place. Simple as that.
Attending classes and presentations put on throughout the year and throughout the country by Extension Master Gardeners who give the latest and most accurate information on gardening practices might be the best gift you can give yourself or suggest to others.
Stay tuned for Part Three: Silly, extravagant and ridiculous gifts for the gardener who has everything.