Inspired by a recent column in the Canadian magazine, Garden Making (www.gardenmaking.com), I decided to quiz a few industry experts about their top gardening gifts - both ones that they have received or would like to receive this year. I included myself as well, because I’ve discovered a few gems over the years that I just have to share.
Steve Biggs is an award winning writer, gardener and speaker from Toronto and the co-author of No-Guff Vegetable Gardening and the recent Grow Figs: Where You Think You Can’t (http://www.grow-figs.com). “The gardening gift I use most is my Tub Trug, with which I carry all sorts of things (harvested veg, soil mix, water) around the garden,” says Steve. “It’s really just a big, flexible, durable plastic bucket with handles—nothing like traditional wooden garden trugs.”
Well known in the Maritimes for her garden blog, books and newspaper articles, Jodi Delong is also the author of Plants for Atlantic Gardens. “Because I've just moved house, home & garden, my desire for gifts this year would be gift certificates to my favourite nurseries around Nova Scotia,” says Jodi, adding with a laugh. “And since Santa won't bring me new knees, some strong backs to help me get this garden going in the spring.” Gifts to give the gardeners on her own Christmas list include books and the hori hori knife from Lee Valley. “Best garden tool I have, but the only thing I need to do to mine is paint the handle TARDIS blue for those times when I forget where I've left it!”
Reaching over one million Canadian gardeners a week with his TV, radio, social media presence and various media outlets, Mark Cullen is also a spokesperson for Home Hardware where he has created his own line of tools and garden products called ‘Mark’s Choice’. His favourite products from Mark’s Choice include the bypass pruner and sharpening set. “The pruner features high carbon steel blades with a non-stick coating, and a unique cutting action that draws the branch into the blade,” notes Mark, adding that the handy sharpener has a tungsten carbide blade for sharpening and an oil reservoir. He also relies on what he calls, the ‘World’s Best Lawn & Leaf Rake’. “It’s both lightweight and indestructible,” he laughs. “It’s great for throwing leaves and grass clippings and shortens work time so you can lie in the hammock longer.”
Marjorie Harris is a prolific Canadian garden writer, authoring over 17 books and also is the gardening columnist for the Globe and Mail. “One of my totally favourite gifts is a container of Balm Bag from Lee Valley, which is great for feet and really troubled hands,” she says of the product originally used to soften cow’s udders. “But O’Keeffe’s Working Hands Cream from Lee Valley is also just the best because it’s greaseless.” If you really want to win Marjorie’s love, however, give her the gift of compost! “Bags, heaps, homemade duck poop!” She loves it all!
Halifax Seed is a Canadian gardening tradition and Emily Moir (Tregunno) is the 4th generation now working for this award-winning family business. “Felco No. 2’s are such a classic gift and it’s our belief that every gardener should have a pair,” says Emily of the popular pruners. (Niki’s Note - I LOVE my Felco #2’s that I bought - at least according to my kids - in the Stone Age when I was still in university.) “I also really like the Haxnicks Tunnels that will protect your veggies in early spring so you can get a jump on planting or extend the harvest into late autumn and early winter.”
After reading all these other ideas, I have extended my own gardening gift wish-list (Haxnicks Tunnels!), but in regards to my must-have’s, I really love my CobraHead hand tool that I bought in the US years ago, but is finally available in Canada at Lee Valley. I use it for planting, weeding, seeding and pretty much all of my garden chores. I am also loving the amazing selection of quality gardening magazines that we have here in Canada - Gardens East, which focuses on the four Maritime provinces (www.gardenseast.ca) and Garden Making (www.gardenmaking.com). (In the interest of full disclosure, I do contribute to both publications.) A yearly subscription makes a very reasonable and welcome gift that keeps on giving all year long.
Niki Jabbour is the author of the award winning book, The Year Round Vegetable Gardener and the host of The Weekend Gardener radio show (currently gone dormant for the winter). Find her online at www.nikijabbour.com or on twitter @NikiJabbour.