Cultivated: 10 perfect gifts for gardeners

Christin Geall is an avid Oak Bay gardener and creative non-fiction writing instructor at UVic

You needn’t spend a pile on a gardener. An offer of muscle or a homemade gift certificate for weeding will get you far. But if you’re in the mood to lay on the love (or in need of some serious ingratiation), start at the bottom of the list and work up. This year’s holiday gift line up goes from low to high, with the first gift being the best price ever—free.

1. Download the NPR affiliate podcast Cultivating Place: Conversions on Natural History and the Human Impulse to Garden onto your gardener’s phone. The host, Jennifer Jewell, is based in California, but she interviews around the world (including yours truly). It’s a great show—intelligent and nicely paced. From the site: ‘Cultivating Place is based on the belief that horticulture is a foundational element of our cultural literacy—on par with art, music, architecture, history, geography, social studies and literature.” Yes!

2. A packet of seeds. Really what’s more cheering in a stocking than a gift one can fantasize about for months?

3. If you know plants are always on your gardener’s mind, but don’t dare meddle with their aesthetic, try a gift certificate to specialist south Oak Bay nursery, Demitasse. Even the most discerning can find something unique there.

4. For the armchair gardener, consider English landscape designer Dan Pearson’s new collection of columns titled Natural Selection. Other notable recent books include Charlotte Mendelson’s Rhapsody in Green and Jinny Blom’s The Thoughtful Gardener: An Intelligent Approach to Garden Design.

5. Best mother inlaw gift ever: ARS pruners. These red-handled Japanese needle-nose snips are spring-loaded, light, and my constant companion. About $25 online.

6. Sadly, we’ve lost our local Dig This, but there’s one in Broadmead which carries the oh-so-handy if clunky ‘Sloggers’. These are lined rubber clogs, reasonably priced at $50 for women and $55 for men.

7. An experience or class: A series of Ikebana classes through Recreation Oak Bay, a colour theory class through VISA, or an afternoon of floral design with moi…the promise of learning a new skill can re-invigorate even the most dejected December gardener. Plug alert: I offer gift certificates through my site: www.cultivatedbychristin.com.

8. Fashionable and functional, a leather holster from American designer Wheeler Munroe is so hip your hand naturally travels there when wearing one. A fantastic investment in your gardener’s sanity given their tools will travel with them outdoors.

9. A Hasegawa ladder. Light and easy to move, these orchard-style ladders have a wide base and a pole for stability. Victoria landscape designer Susanne Osmond began importing them to Victoria after falling in love with them at Great Dixter. www.susanneosmond.com

10. Tickets to the Chelsea Flower Show in London. Beyond (and above) the beyond.

Christin Geall is an avid Oak Bay gardener and creative non-fiction writing instructor at the University of Victoria.

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