Roots and Shoots: Gardener Gift Guide

Great finds for green thumbs

By Pamela Doan

Recently I wrote about visiting the High Line in New York City and how my experience was enhanced by having read Gardens of the High Line: Elevating the Nature of Modern Landscapes, by Piet Oudolf and Rick Darke. For anyone who wants to emulate and understand what is happening in those naturalistic designs, check out Planting: A New Perspective, which Oudolf co-authored with Noel Kinsbury.

The book is a useful guide for gardeners who want to understand the sustainable approach taken by an innovative landscape designer. It is both a resource with plant lists and a tool of knowledge about what goes on in the landscape.

The Living Forest: A Visual Journey into the Heart of the Woods, by Robert Llewellyn and Joan Maloof, is another rich experience with nature. The natural world is changing rapidly in response to many pressures: development, climate change, invasive species, major storms. (Both of these titles are available at timberpress.com.) Pair it with The Hidden Life of Trees, by Peter Wohlleben.

Pollinator Garden set

The seed collection gift boxes from Hudson Valley Seed Co. are beautifully packaged, and each pack has distinctive art. Choose from the Pollinator Garden, Herb Garden, Gourmet Greens, Vegetable Garden, Cut Flower Garden or go for the Collection Bundle. As a bonus, you get to support a small business dedicated to preserving and propagating heirloom and open-pollinated varieties through sustainable, organic growing. I find growing from seed to be the most satisfying and remarkable process. See hudsonvalleyseed.com.

On the subject of open-pollinated seeds, help the vegetable gardener in your life go to the next level with Carol Deppe’s Breed Your Own Vegetable Varieties: The Gardener’s and Farmer’s Guide to Plant Breeding and Seed Saving. If you’ve ever grown a tomato, squash or pepper that truly worked in your growing conditions and had a flavor you loved, use this resource to learn how to save seeds from it and adapt it to be even better. It’s also a way to recover some of the control that we’ve lost to agribusiness. See chelseagreen.com.

Stonecrop Gardens

All work and no play makes for a grouchy gardener. Give the gift of beauty and leisure with a membership to a garden. Stonecrop Gardens near Cold Spring (stonecrop.org), Innisfree Garden in Millbrook (innisfreegarden.org) and the New York Botanical Garden in the Bronx (nybg.org) are prime viewing spots and memberships offer other perks. If you’re lucky, your recipient will take you along and you’ll get the pleasure of his or her perspective.

Garden knife set

Gardening is always easier when you have the right tool, and most gardeners I know tend to skimp in this area. We have workarounds, and it’s too much effort  to go back to the shed to get something. The Opinel garden knife set from Hudson Valley Seed Co. has a blade for any situation and the brightly colored handles are easy to spot when you set one down and want to find it again on the ground. One blade is curved for harvesting or pruning, the other is a straight-blade garden knife, and the serrated blade is capable of sawing through small trunks. The set comes nicely packaged in a wood box.

I covet this dibble from employee-owned Johnny’s Seeds. It’s a gorgeously designed tool and also practical. You won’t think you need one until you see how easy it makes planting bulbs, seeds or garlic and transplanting. See johnnyseeds.com.