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Hamptons Life

Dec 1, 2017 5:03 PMPublication: The East Hampton Press & The Southampton Press

Gifts For The Gardener, Part II

A garden scooter can make a great holiday gift for any age gardener. The scooter allows the gardener to move about without kneeling and its floatation tires leave no tracks. ANDREW MESSINGER
Dec 4, 2017 9:48 AM

This week, a few more suggestions for holiday gifts for gardeners, planters, diggers, and those who love to take pictures of plants, flowers and bugs, even in the rain.Does your intended like to take pictures of his or her garden, others’ gardens and flowers, and maybe some garden insects? Shooting in the garden can be a challenge, because we often like to get shots of tiny subjects, closeup subjects, and often it’s wet and muddy—and always dirty.

I’ve got just the camera. It’s the Olympus TG-5 (about $450), and it’s at home in the rain, in the mud, and even in the snow and cold. This camera is small, pocketable, comes in red (easy to find when dropped) or black, is fully waterproof and dirt-proof, has a zoom lens—and, better yet, can do macro (very close) photographs at less than a half inch from the subject.

It works underwater, in the rain and even in frigid cold, in the mud, and at the beach. Better yet, it has built-in GPS, so each photo is tagged with information that can tell you exactly where the picture was taken, as well as when. It’s an excellent little camera that’s been getting great reviews, and I’ve had the last three generations.

When it comes to tools, gardeners can be very particular: It’s not uncommon for a gardener to spend over a hundred dollars on a garden tool, then cherish it for decades. The right garden tool feels right, is made well and isn’t inexpensive.

My smallest and one of my most important tools is a small garden trowel that’s been part of my garden tool kit for decades. It’s got a wooden handle, heavy metal blade and stem that will never bend or break, and it’s indestructible.

I haven’t been able to find these for years but recently found one online, and it’ll make a great gift. This is one gift that you can’t find locally—I’ve asked and looked. But you can find it here: http://bit.ly/2j0zUNP.

A dibble is an extraordinary garden tool, but gardeners rarely know what they’re used for until they figure out what they can be used for. Originally, dibbles were used in greenhouses and gardens to establish planting holes for small plants and seedlings, but they also can be used to make holes for small bulbs, and for the most part these are the tasks that they excel at.

With a wooden handle and metal, conical shaft, the dibble is forced into the soil to create a shallow planting hole. It’s the perfect shape for plants that come out of cell packs, and this can include annuals as well as vegetables. It makes planting much faster and smoother than using a trowel for such small and shallow planting.

You can see what such a dibble looks like here: http://bit.ly/2zOduK0. You may be able to find one locally, but they’re not too common.

Getting into larger and more expensive tools that every gardener should have, there are two that are critical. One is a garden spade, and the other is a garden fork.

The right garden spade can be used for planting, transplanting, trenching and a variety of other garden chores. It should have a blade that’s attached to a wooden handle with a rivet through the neck. The neck and handle should be made of ash so it will last, and the wooden end should go deep into the blade’s socket.

The same is true of a great garden fork. The fork is used for breaking up soil and for gingerly digging up bulbs and plants that a shovel might sever. Gardener’s Supply sells a set of these two tools that are crafted in Great Britain, and at $175 for the pair they are not inexpensive but they can easily last a lifetime. These aren’t lightweight, and the handles are Y-shaped and smooth, which make them easy to handle and leverage.

This garden duo will make a fantastic gift, and you can find them here, http://bit.ly/2AH0OET, though some local garden centers may be able to put together a similar pair.

For stocking stuffers, there’s nothing like a few good plant labels or, as a larger gift, a collection of a hundred or so. The only labels I use are metal labels that come from everlastlabel.com. They are available in a variety of shapes and heights, and you don’t need a special marker to write on them, as a No. 2 pencil will work fine and last for years. Made from zinc, they are virtually indestructible.

I use the hairpin style, and you can buy 30 online for 30 bucks, or any of the other types they offer. Some garden centers sell a few of the types, but if you order online they ship quickly and at no extra cost.

Two-wheeled tools (each actually has four wheels) that I use regularly in the garden make great gifts. One is a garden scooter, and the other is a garden wagon. The scooters are available online, and Plow and Hearth offers one here, http://bit.ly/2k6pE9X, for about $100. You can find them at other vendors (in other colors) as well.

The scooter allows you to leisurely move about the garden and do your work from a sitting position instead of kneeling on the ground. Some of these come with baskets in the back for holding small tools and supplies, and some also have a compartment under the seat that can hold some “stuff.” Wide flotation tires make it easy to move about, and a front extended handle makes it easy to pull the scooter across the lawn or back to the shed. A great thing to have for any gardener, old or young.

There also is a garden cart that’s indispensable. Northern Tool offers one (http://bit.ly/2hNwHA0) for under a hundred bucks, but other vendors may have them for slightly more and of better quality. You may also find them at a larger local garden center.

The key here is a long front handle (some come with a hitch, so the wagon becomes a trailer that can be attached to a garden tractor or riding mower); flotation tires, so it’s easy to pull and won’t leave ruts in the lawn; and sides that can be detached and lowered to make the cart a level trailer. Mine came with a bin that fits atop the side rails that acts as a small tool shelf, but everything seems to find a way to fall through.

I’ve become a real fan of hummingbirds, because they’re great to watch, incredibly interesting, and helpful as both pollinators and insect eaters. So another gift to consider is a hummingbird feeder. It’s a common misconception that hummingbirds feed only on nectar—insects are often half of their diet, and they’re great to have around the garden.

A hummingbird feeder allows you to offer them a liquid food that they’ll appreciate early in the season, when nectar and insects can be scarce. These birds are territorial, though so consider more than one feeder, and suggest to your giftee that they be set as far apart as practical. These feeders come in different shapes and styles, from $15 up to $50.

Just a few suggestions based on years of giving and getting. Hope you can find something great and, even better, hope you get something great. There’s joy in both.

Keep growing!

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