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Wednesday, Dec. 12, 2007 01:47 am

Gift ideas for gardeners

It’s America’s No. 1 hobby, so finding gift ideas is a cinch

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Untitled Document With gardening being America’s No. 1 hobby, it is likely that you have several gardeners on your gift list. Here’s a short list of items that most gardeners will appreciate.
Garden knife. A garden knife can be used for a variety of gardening activities, including digging, weeding, and cutting. Desirable features include a comfortable handle and sharp stainless-steel blade with a serrated edge. Another good feature to look for is a notched tip, ideal for getting out the long roots of dandelions, which can invade flowerbeds. Be sure to get a protective sheath with a belt loop. Some terms to look for include “multipurpose garden knife,” “all-in-one knife,” “soil knife,” and “hori-hori” (the name of a Japanese digging tool).
Gardening clothing. While carrying out gardening chores, many gardeners forget to protect their skin from the sun. Many types of gardening clothes are on the market, and many are available on the Internet. A wide-brimmed hat with overhangs in the front and back is a great choice for blocking the sun from the face, ears, and neck. Fairly new to the market is sun-protective clothing, garments with sun-protection factors similar to those of sunblock. Ergonomic gardening tools. Ergonomic tools are designed to maximize the body’s muscle action while minimizing stress and strain. Most are designed to encourage the use of arm and wrist muscles instead of back and shoulder muscles.
Hand pruners. Every gardener needs a good durable set of hand pruners. Look for a tool with replaceable parts. Scissors-type pruners (a.k.a. bypass pruners) are recommended over the anvil type (those with a blade on one side and a flat surface on the other), which tend to crush the stem instead of delivering a sharp cut. Include a holster for easy access.
Gardening literature. Few gardeners can refuse a good gardening book or subscription to a garden magazine. There’s a variety of magazines to choose from; just make sure that the content is applicable to Illinois growing conditions.
Your local University of Illinois Extension offers several great publications, including the Pocket Guide to Good Gardening. Small enough to fit in your back pocket and durable enough to weather many trips into the garden, the book covers such topics as general gardening tips and key garden-safety concerns. U of I Extension publications may be purchased at your local extension office or online at Pubs Plus (pubsplus.uiuc.edu/). Other welcome gifts include new plant cultivars, a work apron, garden clogs or boots, leaf shredders, a heavy-duty spade, a kneeling pad or bench, a garden calendar, and gardening software. One gift from the heart that doesn’t cost a cent is a coupon for a set number of hours of weeding, planting, mowing, or raking.

Jennifer Fishburn is a horticulture educator with the University of Illinois Extension Sangamon-Menard Unit. Contact her at fishburn@uiuc.edu.
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