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Holiday gifts for gardeners

12/12/02 12:00AM By Charlie Nardozzi
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I stink at holiday gift giving. I can count on one hand the number of times I've given an unrequested holiday gift that hit the mark. Usually I get pleasant smiles and thank yous with the all too familiar under tone of "another white elephant for the tag sale." So, since I live with a gardener, and many of my friends are gardeners, I've often give gardening gifts. After all what gardener wouldn't want a gift certificate to a favorite nursery or catalog, new garden gloves, or more potting soil, fertilizer, or containers?

But I've learned from experience not to get too adventurous when selecting gardening gifts for friends and family. What seems unique and special to me often seems strange to the receiver. For instance, one year I gave my wife Barbara a wasp catching glass jar. It was a beautiful jar reminiscent of a glass decanter. It had a reservoir in which to place sweet liquids to attract wasps and a hole on the bottom to let them in. Once inside they were trapped and could be disposed of. It was a good idea, but never really worked and now sits in the garage gathering dust.

I've also flopped when giving cute garden ornaments. I've learned to stay away from pink flamingoes, laughing pigs, whirlygig geese, and gazing balls unless I really know the person well. I've found the old adage, "what's one man's treasure is another's trash" is definitely true with these types of gifts.

One garden gift that has been a hit is green, plastic-coated metal garden stakes. Every gardener I know uses stakes and love these because they're sturdy and attractive. Gardening kits can also be popular. Try giving an amaryllis kit complete with bulb, pot, soil, and instructions for the novice gardener, an indoor mushroom growing kit for the budding scientist, and window sill herb garden kit for the accomplished cook. For the hard core gardener, new pruners, a pruning saw, or garden scissors are always welcomed, even if they already them. I'm always losing or breaking pruners and saws, so having an extra saves time and anguish while in the middle of a project.

Then there are the gifts for the socially conscious gardener. Rain barrels, composters, and irrigation equipment may not be sexy, but the practical gardener loves these. Just consult them first on style and model.

In this modern age, there are many technological gadgets that make life simpler. However, I draw the line at gifts such as a phone belt to hold a portable phone while in the garden. Gardening is meant to get you away from the stresses of life and become less accessible. Encourage your friends to leave the phone in the house and enjoy the natural sounds of birds, water, and wind. Hope you have a happy holiday.

This is Charlie Nardozzi in Hinesburg.

Charlie Nardozzi is an all-around gardening expert with a special fondness for tomatoes and roses.
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