Finally, spring has truly arrived here in Boston. The trees are blooming, and Mother Nature has donned her most colorful finery in the form of daffodils, tulips, and hyacinths. Too, everyone seems to have a little extra spring (ha!) in their step, thanks to the longer daylight hours and the first hints of warmth in the air. Gardeners are especially cheery at this time of the year, experiencing great joy at the sight of dark soil, rich with cracks from new growth breaking through.
Here at Little Birdie Me, we’ve actually come to think of gardening as a form of deferred self-gifting - you plant a host of bulbs in the fall and, come spring, you receive them back in a most glorious fashion. And, if you’re like us and have a tendency to forget exactly what you planted where, those bulbs blooming forth become like little surprise gifts.
Self-gifting aside though, if you’re not a gardener yourself (or even if you are), sussing out the perfect gift for friends and loved ones who are part of the “muddy shoe crew” is not always easy. But, that’s why we’re here. If you have a gardener in your gifting sights, we hope one or more of the following gift ideas will fit the bill!
FISKARS SOFTOUCH MICRO-TIP PRUNING SNIPPERS - Of the snippers and pruners we have used, our Fiskars micro-tip snippers are an all-time favorite. Sometimes you need power and sometimes you need finesse. This pair of snippers falls into the latter category and is perfect for fine tuning a garden and keeping one’s house plants in ship shape condition, be it deadheading smaller plants, shaping a bonsai, or trimming back your thyme. In addition to being extremely handy, these snippers are also very comfortable to hold and are eminently durable (ours have been going strong for more than seven years).
FELCO F-2 CLASSIC MANUAL HAND PRUNER - If we could only choose one pair of pruners for our garden, it would be these, Felco’s F-2 classic pruners (although the Fiskars at #1 are very, very close contenders!). These pruners are a bit of a splurge, but you’re getting a high quality tool that’s built to last so you have to take that into account and amortize the cost over (probably) a lifetime of use. Speaking of which, the pruners come with a lifetime warranty which we think says a lot about Felco’s approach to toolmaking - namely, that they’re willing to put their money where their mouth is, standing behind the quality of their product. Indeed, we have found these pruners to be oh-so-durable. Moreover, they have an excellent weight in hand, are comfortable to hold and, most importantly, get the job done. We were surprised, given their modest size, at how strong they are, lopping off everything from sturdy iris stems, to basal shoots on trees. If your gardener-recipient does not already have a pair of these Swiss-made pruners, we think you’ll win brownie points (big time) by giving them as a gift.
GREEN VELCRO GARDENING TAPE - Whether your gift recipient loves to grow fruit, vegetables and/or flowers, if they are training anything (tomatoes! berries! grapes! roses!) up a trellis, a frame or a stake, chances are some green VELCRO gardening tape will come in extremely handy. As opposed to pre-cut ties, a roll of “tape” gives a gardener the flexibility of being able to cut to size, which has the added benefit of minimizing waste. In fact, waste is minimized twice over as the tape is reusable - we save ours at the end of each gardening season and have been able to get many uses out of each little strip. Highly recommend.
COPPER GARDEN LABELS - If you fancy giving the gift of organization but fancy doing so in style, you may wish to check out GardenMate’s copper garden labels. Not only do they look great but they will help any gardener keep their plant IDs straight. Final note: reviewers report being able to easily reuse the labels by using a little acetone to remove prior writing. We have not yet tried this personally but it seems like another potential bonus!
MOLESKINE GARDENING JOURNAL - What variety of rosemary did I buy again? Where did I plant that peony? Were my blackberries already fruiting at this time last year? All these questions (and more!) we’ve been able to answer because of the records we keep in our handy dandy gardening journals. One can easily adapt a blank book to be a gardening journal, but after a fair bit of research, we settled on Moleskine’s gardening journal from their Passion series. The benefit of having a journal that’s designed for the task is that it prompts you to record all sorts of data that, previously, you might not have thought to record. The Moleskine journal does just that - offers you prompts - but at the same time, there are enough blank spaces and extra pages so that you don’t feel micromanaged. In other words, there’s room for each gardener to be creative and adapt the journal to their specific needs, making it pretty perfect in our book.
NITRILE GLOVES BY ATLAS - As a gardener one often wants to get one’s hands right in there, in the soil, feeling the dampness, the warmth, the growing things. Sometimes though, you also want to keep the dirt from getting so far up under your nails that it seems to take hours to scrub out properly - or, sometimes you are handling plants that are some variation of prickly, sticky or clingy. In those instances, a good pair of gloves come in handy (ha!). Most gardeners though, still like to feel what they’re working on as closely as possible. Enter Atlas’ nitrile gloves. So far, they’re by far the best gardening gloves we’ve found. Not only do they protect our hands from plants that are a bit, shall we say, challenging, but they fend of most dirt too, all while allowing us to feel almost like we’re handling our plants and scrapping about in the earth with (nearly) bare hands. Additional bonus: breathability. Other gloves that may protect your hands 1000% from every speck of dirt also tend to be kind of suffocating (in our experience anyway) and often make our hands hot and/or sweaty. Not so with these babies, thanks to their fabric backing.
SNEEBOER TRANSPLANTING TROWEL - As far as we’re concerned, this is the one trowel to rule them all. After working our way through several trowels that gave up the ghost by breaking at the join, we were frustrated. It’s not like we’re Clark Kent here, we’re just normal-strengthed folks trying to do a bit of gardening. Call us crazy but a trowel, as far as we were concerned, should be able to do its job without breaking when a human of average strength puts it to good use. With that as our guiding light, we set about researching trowels in earnest to find one that met our expectations. And, in the end, our search led us to Sneeboer’s transplanting trowel which has proved to be exactly what we were looking for. Whereas many cheapo trowels are soldered right where the handle meets the blade (making them weaker right where you need the most strength), Sneeboer trowels are hand-forged in the Netherlands from stainless steel as a whole, i.e. no soldering separate pieces together. As such, each one is extra strong and the edge of the trowel’s blade retain their sharpness, making for a digging tool ne plus ultra.
HORI HORI KNIFE - A hori hori knife is one of the most recent and welcome additions to our gardening tool bag. If your gift recipient finds themselves regularly waging war against crabgrass or dandelions, or if they plant lots of bulbs, we think they will find this Japanese gardening tool to be immensely useful too. Tasked with clearing a path of crabgrass last year, we were amazed to find that our Mtn Tree hori hori knife didn’t just make the process vastly easier when compared to tackling the same with a trowel, it made it positively fun! A hori hori knife is kind of like a gardening knife with a sharp pointy tip and (in most cases) a serrated edge. This makes it perfect for slipping under pernicious weeds with tough root systems (like dandelions). Once you’re positioned under the weed, you wiggle the hori hori a bit to loosen the soil, et voilà, the offending weed can be pulled with little to no effort. Similarly too, when planting bulbs, it’s great for loosening soil and, thanks to a notched-in ruler, you can make sure you’re hitting the correct soil depth with accuracy. As for the serrated edge? It’s just brilliant for some light sawing if you encounter a stubborn root. Our hori hori might be our top pick for “best multipurpose tool” in our gardening bag - as such, we think it makes a great gift.
GIFT CERTIFICATE - If you’re a gardener, you may well know how hard it can be to resist the lure of gardening catalogs - so many amazing plants/flowers/fruits/vegetables one wants to grow! If you’re not a gardener, trust us, gardening catalogs and nurseries emit some kind of Siren call, making them darned near irresistible to most gardeners. Even if one knows there’s no room left in one’s garden, a little voice inside whispers seductively, “oh, surely you can fit in one more rose/azalea/kind of tomato…” In that spirit, if you fancy treating your gardener, consider enabling them to respond to the Sirens’ call guilt-free by giving them a gift certificate to a wonderful local nursery or online vendor. Online, we love White Flower Farm, Easy to Grow Bulbs and Schreiner’s Irises for plants and bulbs. For special and unique seeds, you may wish to check out gifting options at Annie’s Annuals (heirloom varieties) or Kitazawa Seeds (Asian vegetables). Pro tip: if you have an online gardening outfit in mind but would like to check out how they stacks up, nip on over to Dave’s Garden, an online forum where (among other things) gardeners review their experiences with various vendors.
MEMBERSHIP TO A LOCAL ARBORETUM - In our experience, most gardeners love learning more about gardening-related things - be it soil health, tree types, how to graft plants - you name it! Here in Boston, we are fortunate to have the Arnold Arboretum which can be enjoyed by all comers and has marvelous events like Lilac Sunday, an annual spring tradition. The Arboretum also has a wonderful class program with a diverse range of lectures, some focusing on horticultural history, others on biology and others that combine classroom learning with outdoor, on site learning. An Arboretum membership gives folks, among other benefits, discounted access to these classes. As such, membership can make a grand gift for the ever-curious gardener. Many other cities have wonderful botanical gardens, arboretums and nature centers too - check locally and chances are you will find a similar organization that offers a membership program perfect for your gardener!
CLAP CLAP SCENTED CARDS - Clap Clap’s greeting cards not only look gorgeous - like fine botanical drawings - they smell amazing too! If you are gifting to a gardener that also happens to be a keen letter writer and correspondent, a selection of scented cards may well be the way to go - alternately, snag one to use as a card for your gift. Choose from a lovely range of flower illustrations, including not just famous florals such as rose, peony and lavender, but awfully lovely (yet under-featured) ones such as tuberose and sweet pea. Also in the line-up are fruits such as fig, pomegranate, grapefruit and plum, not to mention the likes of hinoki, pine and bamboo. Something beautiful for everyone, really!
MASON BEE BOTTLE - Bees are a mighty force of nature - and they are key to the cultivation of many large-scale crops we humans rely on for sustenance. On a more modest scale too, they help our gardens grow, thanks to their inadvertent cross-pollination. If your gift recipient takes a holistic approach to their gardening (we’re guessing this is most gardeners!), focusing not just on the plants themselves, but ensuring that the soil in which they grow and the environment in which they are to thrive are as healthy as possible, they may well enjoy the gift of a bee bottle to help encourage mason bee activity in the vicinity of their garden without having to commit to a full on apiary. Mason bees are not honey-making bees but are superb pollinators and they’re considered “solitary” bees because they don’t live in hives. As such, this attractive tube is an inviting place for them to build their mud nest and make a happy home!
BIRDS AND BLOOMS PILLOW MAP - If your gift recipient happens to love flowers and geography, they may well appreciate a lovely cotton canvas pillow decorated with a map of the United States showcasing each state’s chosen state flower and state bird (a bonus if your recipient likes birdwatching too!). The pillow is 13-inches high and 19-inches long, perfect we thinks for supporting a gardener’s head as they scan gardening catalogs in the chilly winter months - or, for supporting a gardener’s weary feet after a full day of gardening in the summertime.
L.L.BEAN DUCK MOCS - We can’t really imagine a more perfect gardening shoe than L.L.Bean’s rubber duck mocs. They are comfortable, easy to slide on and off, are basically mud proof and are super durable. What more could you want? We were gifted a pair a fair number of years ago now that are still going strong and they have served us well in the garden in the spring, summer and fall - in the winter, they still see action, just not in the garden. We use them regularly as quick slip-ons when dashing out to the corner store, or nipping outside to grab the paper from a snowy front walk. Give a pair of these to your gardener and they will be well shod year-round and ready for all sorts of gardening work.
PETERBORO BASKET - There are many ways a beautiful basket can be of use in the garden, be it collecting weeds, gathering berries, or picking apples. If you think your gift recipient might enjoy a stylish (but sturdy) basket with which to carry out one or more of their various gardening tasks, we suggest heading on over to Peterboro Basket Co. website and having a look at their selection of garden baskets. Many of their baskets were specifically designed with the aforementioned tasks in mind.
BLACK WALNUT FLOWER PRESS - For the gardener who likes to grow flowers, consider the gift of a flower press (like this lovely black walnut flower press, a collaboration by PistilsNurseryPDX with a local designer) so that they can preserve the fruits of their labor year round. We have given a flower press in the past, accompanied by a set of blank note cards so that our recipient could affix their flowers to them as a form of decoration before penning a missive to a friend or loved one. There are many ways pressed flowers can be employed for decorative purposes, whether in a shadow box, a glass frame, or a serving tray (as illustrated in this DIY tutorial by Liz Stanley, author of the Say Yes blog).
GARDEN SEAT AND KNEELER - If the gardener in your gifting sights experiences any kind of difficulty getting around - perhaps as the result of an injury, or due to age - they may well find a garden seat and kneeler allows them to continue pursuing a favorite pastime with more ease and in greater comfort. Abco Tech has combined a seat and kneeler in one to rave reviews and may well be worth a look if you think this might be up your recipient’s alley.
SLOGGERS SUN HAT - Last but certainly not least, since gardeners tend to spend a fair amount of time in the sun, we would highlight Sloggers sun hats for gifting purposes as they offer UPF* 50+ protection. We’ve purchased more than a couple of Sloggers’ women’s wide brim braided sun hat (with wind lanyard) and have found them to be both attractive and functional. The lanyard too has turned out to be handier than originally expected - whether we’re bending over as we work, or it’s a windy day (or both) - our hat stays affixed to our head. For the gents, Sloggers offers a sun hat with the same protection level (UPF 50+) and a lanyard but the hat itself is made out of cotton.
A final note. Simon Pearce, makers and sellers of beautiful glass and wood objects (among other things), designed a glass bowl called the Nowlan bowl which is a pretty stunning container in which to grow one or two bulbs (think amaryllis, flowers like that). It’s not just us who thinks so - indeed, in their catalogs and marketing literature that is how the bowl has often been shown, with a bulb or two, surrounded by a bit of soil and moss. We did not put the bowl on the above list since it’s currently out of stock (hopefully not discontinued!). Paired with a bulb or two though, the Nowlan bowl would make for a gorgeous (and pretty special) gift to any gardener. As such, we wanted to flag it here, just in case by the time you read this, it is back in stock.
*What does UPF mean? We had to looks this one up too. When we did, we learned that UPF is basically the sun protection scale used for clothing, measuring the degree to which UVA and UVB rays penetrate a given material. For example, an article of clothing rated UPF 50 permits only 1/50th (roughly 2%) of UV transmission. And, any material that allows less than 2% UV transmission is labeled UPF 50+ (like Sloggers sun hats).
Why sign up for a free Little Birdie Me account?
- No more unwanted gifts! Create a gift profile to let folks know what you like (and don't like!) to receive.
- Link to existing wish lists, registries, Pinterest boards - and more!
- Keep track of the gifts you give, and budget for gifting events.
- Follow family and friends' gift profiles to make your own gift giving easy peasy.