Christmas list for the beginning gardener

Making your list and checking it twice? Here’s my ultimate dream package for a beginning gardener. Get them growing in the right direction with this collection of tools, books and gear. On my must have list:

1. The phone number of the local extension office, in Boise, it is 208-377-2107. This costs nothing and gives the newbie access to the latest local growing information. Click here for the link to all the Idaho Extension offices.

2. A hori-hori knife: outstanding garden tool, exceptional tool for the amount of leverage you get with little effort. Great for weeding, planting, and hacking up scary bugs.

3. A good small scoop shovel. My current fave is the Fiskars long handled digging shovel, #9668, about $40. I like the scoop to be shield shaped, and the not more than 8-9 inches across in width.

4. A copy of the latest edition (8th)of Sunset Western Garden book. Although written primarily for the western states, this is a great all-round garden book. Easy to read, over 8000 plants are included in this handbook of garden information. I have at least four editions in my library.

5. A copy of Michael Dirr’s Hardy Trees and Shrubs: An Illustrated Encyclopedia. Pricey, but you should not buy a tree without consulting this manual. If you ever looked under the counter at a top notch nursery, you would find a beat-up-dog-eared copy of Dirr’s book. It is considered a gardening bible by those who should know. Find it on Amazon for about $45.

6. The Well Tended Perennial Garden, Expanded Edition, 2006, by Tracy DiSabato-Aust, $24, also at Amazon. A gifted gardener, scientist and author, Tracy has taken the guess work out of tending perennial gardens. She has designed, planted, pruned and nurtured gardens with a discerning eye. In this book, she shares all her tried and true methods for growing exceptional perennials. I wouldn’t be without it.

7. A pair of Felco Number 2 hand pruners. The Cadillac of hand pruners, sharp and sharper, with a comfortable grip, replaceable Swiss blades and vinyl coating on the handles. Every professional gardener has a pair of these strapped to their belt. They even wear them to parties. Pricey, yes, at $38, but remember, you can sharpen them and replace the blade when the time comes. Nothing says “I love you” to a gardener better than a pair of Felco No. 2’s.

8. A half dozen pairs of Atlas Nitrile gloves, the thinnest most comfortable gardening gloves around. You can find these for as little as $4.75 a pair. They come in a rainbow of colors, are washable, good for gripping, yet thin enough to feel your way around the garden.

9. Not at all glamorous, but wonderfully utilitarian, washable, sturdy, multi-purpose item: the tool organizer five-gallon bucket, available everywhere.

10.If you are feeling generous, and really want to impress your favorite gardener, here’s a show stopping gift: the Gardener’s Supply Poly-Tough cart. At $169, it’s a spendy little gift, but it may be one of the coolest, most durable, easy to use garden tools I have ever had the pleasure of owning. In fact, the under gardener (husband) and I have been known to fight over who gets to use it.

11. After all this digging, planting, reading, and playing in the dirt, a $5 tin of Watkins lavender hand and cuticle salve is the perfect thing for restoring your hands. Absolutely wonderful smell, all natural and healing. I have a stash of 3 or 4 tins on hand at all times.

12. Just in case you haven’t yet met the beginning gardener’s every need with all these fantastic gifts, go for the green and get them a big ole’ gift certificate from the best local nursery in town. Come planting time, they can find seeds, flowers, compost, hoes, trees and pottery for their new garden. What a glorious way to start the new gardening season!