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THE HOLIDAY HOUSE

Gifts that give back

Have you been a good gardener this year? Were you watchful, responsive, caring and daring? If so, come Christmas or the last night of Hanukkah you deserve something special: an inventive gift, something out of the ordinary, to acknowledge your skill, celebrate your flair and make your green thumb shine.

December 09, 2004

The garden scope

The amazing Brunton MacroScope (www.close toinfinity.com or [907] 258-1505), $179, with carrying case, neck strap and lens caps) will alter how you relate to the world by changing the way you see it. Like binoculars, it lets you spy on a bird in midair. But with an easy turn of the side-mounted knob, this scope also zooms down to objects just 18 inches away for an intimate look at an insect's antennae -- without disturbing the bug. Sturdy, lightweight and tripod-mountable, it's small enough to fit in most stockings.

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Portable greenhouse

What gardener doesn't covet a cozy greenhouse for sprouting seedlings, rooting cuttings or coddling a collection of winter-sissy orchids? In lieu of a pricey permanent structure, consider a self-erecting portable greenhouse from FlowerHouse. The roomy DomeHouse ($500) offers 156 square feet of growing space. The smaller DreamHouse ($270) is also dandy; the SpringHouse ($175) still provides headroom. Made from UV-resistant rip-stop fabric, they pop up like magic and store compactly. Sold at www.flowerhouses.com or (810) 686-8489, and at local home centers.

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Tree pruners

The Fiskars people have been forging fine tools since 1649. Among their modern best: tree pruners that slice through inch-thick wood as if it were butter, using precision blades, rotating heads and ropeless cutting action. The 62-inch long aluminum Pruning Stik (around $70) weighs less than two pounds. The aluminum-fiberglass Telescoping Pruning Stik (around $110) is 30% lighter than a standard pole pruner, extends to 13 feet and includes an attachable 15-inch saw blade. Sold at home and garden retailers.

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Heavy-duty gloves

Jim Kleinert, the hand surgeon who designed the ergonomically correct Bionic Gardening Gloves (www.bionicgloves.com or [877] 524-6642) has taken his craft one step further with new Extended Wear Gardening Gloves ($39.95) and a Heavy Duty Pro Style ($44.95) version. In addition to anatomical padding and breathable web zones found on original Bionic gloves, these built-to-last models are reinforced in all the right places.

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The potato patch

Gardeners of all ages can grow their own spuds with the Complete Organic Potato Patch Kit ($39.95, www.woodprairie.com, [800] 829-9765) from Wood Prairie Farm, a family operation out of Maine. The kit contains four different varieties of double-certified organic seed potatoes, a rugged American-made hand hoe, organic potato fertilizer, a planting guide and a recipe booklet. At harvest time, you'll gather your crop in the Maine-made garden hod and store your bounty (those tubers not eaten immediately!) in the mesh potato bag.

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A kind word

Gardens and poetry -- could there be a better match? Plant lovers can festoon the fridge and file cabinet with Magnetic Poetry's Gardener Kit ($9.95 ), which includes 240 "verbally fertile" word magnets, such as bug, blister, summer, grow and worm. For outdoor fun, there's Poetry Stones Deluxe ($49.95), with a starter bag of concrete mix, three tint pigments, assorted forms, a trowel, instructions, plus 70 upper and lowercase press-in letters, numbers and punctuation. Be creative: row markers, pavers, address blocks, handprint stones and pet memorials are a few suggested projects. Both products available at department stores.

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Memberships

Two other gifts of enduring value should make any gardener smile: A membership to a favorite public garden, with such yearlong perks as first pick at plant sales and discounts on classes and events; or a truckload of sweetly scented organic mulch -- several cubic yards full -- dumped in the driveway just after Jan. 1 and ready to spread throughout the garden.

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