Larry Hodgson has published thousands of articles and 65 books over the course of his career, in both French and English. His son, Mathieu, has made it his mission to make his father’s writings available to the public. This article was originally published in Le soleil on December 12, 2004.
In recent years, garden centres have found a new niche. From November onwards, they transform themselves into Christmas shops with Christmas trees, garlands, nativity scenes, wreaths, the whole shebang. In doing so, they attract crowds. But that doesn’t mean they give up gardening. Their greenhouses still offer as many houseplants as they do Christmas plants, and their shelves are full of gardening supplies. This is good news for parents and friends of gardening enthusiasts looking for original gifts to feed their passion for horticulture. And to keep up with popular demand, the Laidback Gardener got off the couch last week to see what he could find something of interest for plant and flower lovers.
1. Gardening Books
The choice is ever increasing and there are books in all categories, from “coffee table” books, low on information, but full of great photos and stimulating ideas for gardening, to practical books showing everything about growing plants, to plant encyclopedias describing plants by the thousands and even to books for budding young gardeners.
2. For Clean Floors
Gardening is often messy… but there’s no need to drag mud around the house when there’s a “boot scraper” at the door. In the past, this object was offered in strictly practical forms, but nowadays all bets are off: hedgehogs, bustards, kittens, all your wildest boot scraper dreams come true!
3. Lighting: Beyond the Wires
Is there anything more beautiful than a discreetly lit landscape that encourages us to take a walk on our property in the moonlight? But the moon isn’t always present; moreover, in many yards, there are no electrical outlets to install traditional lighting. Fortunately, there are solar lamps. These lights, which come in a variety of shapes, look like any other garden light, but include a small solar panel that stores solar energy during the day and lights up the yard at night.
4. A Gardening Hat
Wide-brimmed hats protect the skin against the power of the sun, prevent wrinkles and sunburn and keep the heat away. So you can work in the garden without fear or physical discomfort. There are various unisex or men’s and women’s models. Some even have a veil that acts like a mosquito net! Look for a lightweight hat that lets the heat escape.
5. Gardening Tote Bag
There are several models of these bags, always with pockets on the outside to hold hand tools and enough room in the middle to hold a batch of weeds freshly pulled from the garden or to carry seed trays. Some models are free-standing, others fit around a plastic bucket.
6. Gardener’s Apron
If your gardener prefers not to have to carry a bag around with him, he might like a gardener’s aprons. They have pockets for hand tools and protect clothing from dirt. One model even has a large expandable pocket in the front that can be opened as needed to hold pruning waste or other items.
Nothing enhances a houseplant more than raising it on a pedestal… and there’s never been as many designs to choose from as there are today. Not only can you find very classic pedestals in the shape of a Greek column, but you can also find supports made of rattan, metal and many other materials. Many models have three or four levels, which is perfect for creating a little green corner at home. They can be used for indoor plants in winter and taken out in summer to create a beautiful garden on the terrace or balcony.
8. Watering Timer
When you turn on the sprinkler or hose, you always have to remember to turn it off when the watering session is over… at least if you don’t have a watering timer. With a timer, you can leave with peace of mind: the watering will stop by itself at the desired time. There are cheap manual models where you have to adjust the device by turning on the water: the current will stop by itself at the right time. But there are also very sophisticated programmable models that allow you to set the watering frequency for the whole summer.
9. Gardening Gloves
There are all kinds of models: for large or small hands, with or without flowers, for light or heavy work, and even models specific to certain types of work, such as for pruning rose bushes (long and extra resistant to punctures) or for cleaning water gardens (waterproof).
Who doesn’t appreciate receiving beautiful flowers during the holiday season? There are always cut flowers, but live flowering plants last much longer. But since we buy Christmas plants closer to the day we give them, we’ll talk about that in a future column!
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all these 10 are essentials!
I love the pic of the very well-used gardening gloves!
I would add: a load of compost/soil/mulch or help in the garden. Always high on my list. However, I usually have at least one gardening book too. Never have to worry about ‘what-to-give-a-gardener’!
Plus living flowering plants attract the bees needed for vegetable plants to produce! Learned that one the hard way. Great list! Quintessential list, I’d say.