Extension News

Gifts for Gardeners

Note to media editors:

Garden Column for the week of Dec. 16, 2005.


By Ann Marie VanDerZanden


Iowa State University Extension


With the holidays right around the corner, you may already be thinking about what to get for the gardener, or gardeners, on your list. Last year at about this time I wrote a column on gifts for gardeners and based on the calls and emails I received afterwards , I realized it sparked the interest of a number of readers. For this week’s column, I have listed a few more of my favorite ideas. This year I’ve divided the list into gifts that will fit in a stocking and those that won’t.


Stocking Stuffers

Gift certificates make great stocking stuffers. The certificate may be to their favorite nursery or garden center so they can select just the right plant, or to a specialty shop that has unique garden embellishments like statuary, containers, wall plaques or furniture. A subscription to a gardening magazine your gardener doesn’t currently receive or a membership to a nearby botanic garden or arboreta can expand their horizons.


In many cases botanic gardens and arboreta have reciprocal arrangements with other gardening institutions and members can get into other facilities either free or at a reduced rate. Information is available from the American Association of Botanic Gardens and Arboreta (AABGA) or American Horticulture Society (AHS) about these arrangements. 


For the gardener who loves to travel a voucher for one of the many national or international garden tours where they will get a chance to visit a number of spectacular gardens might be just the right gift. (And if you are a gardener too, consider a voucher for you so you can enjoy the trip too!)


Another idea is to give coupons for help in their garden. Maybe one each for help with spring garden clean up, tilling the vegetable garden, dividing perennials, planting annual containers, watering the garden during the summer while they are on vacation and fall garden clean up. Working along side someone can make even the most humdrum garden tasks more enjoyable. If you are handy with tools and know how to sharpen shovels and hoes, a voucher for that service might also be appreciated. He or she can think of you each time they dig into the garden once the ground thaws and the shovel goes into the soil like a knife cutting butter.



Things that are Too Big for a Stocking

Many gardeners spend hours working in their garden. Consider a gift that helps them enjoy the beautiful outdoor living space they have created. A new set of outdoor furniture with comfortable chairs, a footstool and a side table can help anyone relax. Outdoor furniture is available in a range of materials including wood, metal, plastic and composite materials. For the gardener who is concerned about the environment furniture made from composite materials, usually made of recycled wood and plastic materials, might be just the gift. A number of manufacturers make these products and they are available in a range of colors and styles.


Other ‘big’ gifts that can enhance leisure time in the garden include a fire pit or a small water feature. A fire pit or fire bowl can warm up a cool evening and provide a nice glow to a patio or other sitting area. These are available in a range of sizes and styles and some are portable within the garden. A small water feature such as a fountain adds a serene sound to the garden. These are also available in a range of sizes, colors, shapes and styles.


Although a load of compost may not be on the top of everyone’s Christmas list, it might be just the right gift for a special gardener. Consider a gift certificate for a load to be delivered next spring from a local supplier and an additional coupon offering your services to help unload and spread the compost when it arrives.


Too big to fit in most stockings, but not as big as the three gifts above, are books. Again this year a number of new titles have been released and I am sure there is something for every gardener. If you aren’t sure which one to select, a gift certificate to a local bookstore allows your gardener to select what interests them most.


Gifts for gardeners are endless and available in range of prices. Each gardener, like the garden they create, is unique. This year consider giving them something they can enjoy all year long.



Contacts :
Ann Marie VanDerZanden, Horticulture, (515) 294-5075, vanderza@iastate.edu 

Jean McGuire, Continuing Education and Communication Services, (515) 294-7033, jmcguire@iastate.edu

There are no photos for this week's column.