Steve Smith’s gift ideas for your favorite gardener

They range from the down-to-earth practical (garden tools) to the purely decorative (garden art).

A collage of plants that bloom in winter -- perfect for Christmastime.

It’s time to start looking for cool and fun gifts for your favorite gardening friends, and what better place to find some stellar ideas than at your local garden center” Here are a few items that I wouldn’t mind receiving this holiday season.

Gardening Tools: While I probably don’t “need” another gardening tool, that doesn’t mean I wouldn’t appreciate receiving one. I think I mentioned recently how much I have enjoyed the Radius “Root Slayer” shovel that I bought for myself this year. As it turns out, in addition to several models of this long-handled shovel, Radius also manufactures two versions of a small “Root Slayer” hand trowel with the same incredible root-cutting features. Each model includes two dozen ripsaw teeth along the sides that can be sharpened for a long-lasting cutting edge, an inverted V cutting tip, a twine cutter/bottle opener and a lifetime guarantee. If Santa doesn’t bring me one of these, I might just have to go out and get one myself. After all, when you are out in the garden all hot and sweaty, a bottle opener can come in pretty handy.

I have written in the past about Zenport pruning tools, how well they are made and the range of styles available. I personally own several sizes of loppers and a couple of hand pruners. This year I spotted a multi-purpose tool that looks like a cross between a Swiss Army Knife and a Leatherman Multi-tool. The “Zenport Pocket Gardener Multi-Tool” is a folding pocket knife, pruner, saw, and weeder, complete with holster. Whether camping, gardening or just normal daily activities, this little pocket-sized tool is bound to come in handy (sorry folks, no bottle opener on this one, although I have opened many a bottle with pruners).

Yard Art: My wife and I have lots of garden art scattered around our yard from past purchases from the Flower and Garden Show, Sorticulture, various art shows, retail garden centers and artistically creative friends. It all adds a bit of whimsy and playfulness to the garden and almost always brings a smile to everyone’s faces. You can find a wide range of yard art available — from durable concrete statuary, bird baths and fountains, to metallic spinners (both natural and painted), and metal trellises and arbors that are both functional and beautiful. Admittedly, some of these items might be tricky to wrap, but boy will they be a surprise to the recipient. I have had my eye on a “Portal Arbor” from Garden Gallery Iron Works for several years now. Maybe this will be the year.

Jigsaw Puzzles: Let’s face it, there are going to be a lot of cold and rainy days in the coming months when gardeners are going to have to keep busy inside. What better activity (other than thumbing through seed catalogs of course) to keep those weeding fingers nimble and toned then sorting through puzzles pieces from the New York Puzzle Company. Made in the USA with top quality components, my wife and I have already completed six 1,000 piecers and it isn’t even officially winter yet. Pick up a couple for yourself and a few for your gardening friends. Once they are completed, you can have your friends over for dinner and exchange puzzles. It’s a gift that keeps on giving.

Winter Interest Plants: Speaking of gifts that keep on giving, nothing will continue to bring pleasure to a gardener like a living plant. Although difficult to wrap and place under a tree, plants make a wonderful gift that can be remembered for years as they grow and mature in the yard. Winter bloomers like Hellebores, Viburnum ‘Dawn’, ‘Charity’ Mahonia, Camellias, and a wide range of colorful conifers and broadleaf evergreens all provide winter interest in our landscapes that can be enjoyed for years to come. There isn’t a gardener in the world that doesn’t appreciate a new plant for the garden. You can find some pretty amazing displays of winter interest plants, both evergreen and deciduous, in garden centers this time of year. I have had my eye on a cute little dwarf pine called ‘Carstens Wintergold Mugo Pine’, which sports lovely golden yellow needles in the winter and won’t outgrow its spot in the garden. If you are looking for inspiration, a quick trip to the nursery should do the trick.

Gift Cards: Finally, if all else fails, there is always the gift of a gift card — which has the added bonus of providing an opportunity for you to join the recipient in the spring on a field trip to your favorite garden center. Maybe Santa will put one in my stocking this year so my wife and I can go shopping for some new treasures!

Whomever the recipients may be in your life, have fun and think outside of the box this holiday season to give them a unique and thoughtful gift — while helping to support your local businesses at the same time! Happy giving and happy holidays!

Steve Smith represents Sunnyside Nursery in Marysville and can be reached at sunnysidenursery@msn.com

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