Gifts for the gardener


I've been searching high and low since summer for the best gardening gifts of the year. My criteria: find unusual, interesting items in every price range that I would enjoy receiving myself. This, naturally, resulted in a hodgepodge list of random items that should appeal to every plant-loving giftee on your list. Let the holiday season begin! -- By Jessica Damiano

Ollas watering system These handmade, unglazed pots bring
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Ollas watering system

These handmade, unglazed pots bring an ancient Native American watering technique to suburban backyard gardening. A porous earthenware pot called an olla is buried up to its neck and filled, ensuring nearby plants get enough water delivered directly to their roots, even during drought. The watering method virtually eliminates water run off and moisture loss through evaporation. And because roots typically grow in search of water, the result is a dense, fibrous mat of roots around the olla, which in turn makes the water-delivery system even more efficient. (Available in seven sizes, $17-$38 at

Hori-hori knife Hori-hori translates from Japanese to mean,
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Hori-hori knife

Hori-hori translates from Japanese to mean, literally, “dig-dig,” and this razor-sharp, 6 3/4-inch stainless steel, orange-handled knife from A. M. Leonard certainly gets the job done, slicing through even firmly packed soil with ease. The ultimate multi-tasking planting tool, one side of the blade is tapered for slicing, the other is serrated for root cutting. It also can be used to remove weeds, dig, transplant, divide perennials and create holes for bulb planting. The polished, rust-resistant blade prevents sticking and is engraved with depth measurements in millimeters to aid bulb planting. ($32.95 for a set that includes a leather sheath at

“From the Garden of” personal embosser This set
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“From the Garden of” personal embosser

This set includes a maple stand and a 1 3/4-inch diameter “From the Garden of” embosser plate that includes the name of your choice, up to 26 characters. The monagrammer lets you personalize gifts like jams, pickles and bundled herbs from your garden. Made of chrome-plated steel with an engraved brass plate, it works with the included embroidered paper tags and labels for a rich presentation. ($39.95 at


Wolf-Garten tree fruit picker Growing your own fruit
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Wolf-Garten tree fruit picker

Growing your own fruit is rewarding, but only if you can actually reach the fruit in order to pick it. When trees get too tall, as they tend to do, fruit often overripens and falls. And that’s no fun for anyone. This fruit picker attaches to a telescopic handle (sold separately in two sizes) and has an adjustable ergonomic head that allows the user to hold it at different angles. A blade on the front of the picker helps release fruit, dropping it into the attached cloth bag. What’s more, the handle’s seatbelt-type mechanism releases the head easily and readies the handle to accept another of the 60 available attachments (pruners, loppers, even a window cleaner) for other home and garden chores. ($15.97 at Required lightweight 4-position telescopic handle in 2 sizes: 157-inch, $38.97; 118-inch, $32.97).

Toro Ultra Blower Vac 51599 A Consumer Reports
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Toro Ultra Blower Vac 51599

A Consumer Reports Best Buy, this electric-powered blower gets the job done quickly and easily. Offering 12 amps of power and multiple speeds, this blower weighs just 7.6 pounds and has a vacuum setting that allows it suck up leaves, mulch them and deposit them into the included collection bag. (Around $70 at Home Depot, Sears and many online retailers.)

Fifty Sheds of Grey, by C.T. Grey (St.
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Fifty Sheds of Grey, by C.T. Grey (St. Martin's / Griffin)

An amusing garden-inspired parody of the steamy, best-selling novel, this quirky little book came to life after its author, the self-proclaimed “passionate gardener and amateur shed owner” Colin Trevor Grey, started tweeting double entendres in June, after his wife read “that book.” With tweets like, “She knelt before me on the shed floor and tugged gently at first, then harder until finally it came. I moaned with pleasure. Now for the other boot .?.?.,” he quickly amassed nearly 100,000 followers and then compiled his tweets into this book, which he bills as “erotica for the not-too-modern male.” It’s laugh-out-loud funny regardless of gender. ($9.99 for paperback, Kindle and Nook at and

Bobbex deer repellent There are countless deer repellents
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Bobbex deer repellent
There are countless deer repellents on the market — including some odd ones like coyote urine — that promise to protect plants and trees from deer browsing. Some do offer protection, but need to be reapplied often, which makes them impractical for large properties. Fencing is the only 100 percent effective way of keeping deer out, but that could be equally impractical. If you want to go the repellent route, consider only products with sound science behind them: Independent testing by the Connecticut Agricultural Experiment Station found Bobbex to be more effective than 9 other commercial repellents on the market (including that coyote urine), and gave it a 93 percent protection index, second only to barrier fencing. Made from the scents of putrescent eggs, garlic, fish, clove oil, and vinegar (among other things), it works by mimicking predator scents, and is classed as a fear repellent. The taste also is unpleasant, so deer have at least two reasons to avoid it. (about $20 for a 32-ounce spray bottle; about $48 for 64-ounce concentrated liquid, at local nurseries, garden centers and at

Shoe Ins You know the dilemma: You’re working
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Shoe Ins

You know the dilemma: You’re working out in the yard and need to enter the house for a minute. You know you should take off your muddy shoes but it would be so much easier to scamper in quickly on your tippy toes, trying not to track in any dirt. It never works, does it? These over-your-shoes shoes eliminate the inconvenience and keep your floors clean. Just slip your feet — muddy shoes and all — into a pair of these stashed right inside the door, and you won't muck up your floors. Genius! ($29.95 at


Mini Gnome Be Gone Garden Monsters Some people
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Mini Gnome Be Gone Garden Monsters

Some people just love garden gnomes; others not so much. If your recipient list includes a gnome-hater — or someone with a kitschy sense of humor — this 7 1/2x6-inch garden statue likely will be welcomed. Hand made by an artist in Utah, the two metal monsters are ready to carry away the dreaded ceramic gnome (included). And should there be the need to eliminate something else someday, the gnome is removable and the monsters will carry off the next pariah. Made of recycled materials, which may include steel, nickel, stainless steel and/or other metals, each statue is signed by the artist with a welding torch and will develop a patina. Depending on the metal content, it also may rust. Gnome styles and colors vary, but you get what you get. ($44.99 at

Zippered shrub covers Instead of battling with burlap
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Zippered shrub covers

Instead of battling with burlap and twine, protect large shrubs and small trees from harsh winter weather and browsing deer with these lightweight polyester fleece shrub jackets. The fabric is permeable to air and light, but protects against sunscald, wind and road salt. Wrap, zip, pull the drawstring and you’re done. Available in 2 sizes: XL (47-1/4" W x 98-1/2" H) and XXL (78-3/4" W x 118" H). ($29.95 and $54.95 at

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