Gloves, magazines, books among gifts gardeners want

Published 12:00 am Saturday, December 20, 2008

Christmas is less than a week away, and everyone is trying to finish buying those last-minute gifts. I asked the local Master Gardener group to recommend gifts for the gardeners on your list.

Joelyn James, president of the group, suggests rose-gardening gloves. Her husband, Curtis, gave her a pair several years ago that she can’t do without in her garden. She has given them to other gardeners in the family and to Master Gardener Judy Fitzpatrick, who sings their praises. These are elbow-length gloves with leather protection that shields arms from thorns, prickles and creepy crawlers, says Fitzpatrick. If you can’t find them locally, try Gardener’s Supply —

According to Jean O’Neil, garden gloves are a must. She has had good success with Atlas gloves, but has not been able to find them recently. I ran across a source for Atlas nitrile gloves from Palmflex. They are advertised to be durable, breathable, machine washable and having a superior fit for weeding and other gardening chores. They can be ordered at 800-856-4817 or at

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Carol Duncan recommends the “Southern Living Gardening Book.” It describes more than 5,000 plants that do well in our Southern climate. Special sections cover recommendations for colorful landscape plants and annuals; best trees and shrubs for autumn color; showiest perennials; plants for fragrance; and plants that attract birds and butterflies. More sections recommend plants for damp soil, dry soil, ground cover, low maintenance, vines, hedges and natives. It is an excellent resource book.

Denise Duvic is another book enthusiast. She hopes to see under her tree this year “Native Trees of the Southeast” by Katherine Kirkman and “Agnes Chase’s First Book of Grasses.”

Truus Van Ryswyk suggests another book, “Paradise Found” by Norman Winter. It has helped her learn how to incorporate more tropicals into her landscape. Van Ryswyk also wants a rain barrel to help conserve water.   Green-minded gardeners can find the new plastic versions — complete with built-in covers to keep the mosquitoes out — in colors that blend right into the landscape. 

Anita Schilling likes a lightweight compact rake she received as a gift. She suggests bird feeders, birdhouses, bird baths and bat houses which are available from local nurseries and the new Audubon Nature Store on Washington Street. Binoculars are great gifts for young gardeners and birders. Schilling mentioned gift subscriptions to gardening magazines such as Mississippi Gardener (1-888-265-3600), Backyard Living, Organic Gardening, Birds and Blooms, and Fine Gardening.

Ann Wheeless enjoys receiving garden art. No matter how large or small a garden might be, there is some type of ornamentation that can be used to create a mood, a theme or bring a smile to those who enter. Fountains, spheres, sundials, statues, urns, bottle trees, trellises and decorative stakes make good gifts.

Poinsettias, a Christmas cactus and an amaryllis are traditional live Christmas gifts available at local nurseries and florists. Mary Lynn Thomas has learned how to sprout an amaryllis using a vase of water. The vase — one in which she received florist flowers — has a neck and is flared at the bottom to provide stability for the large bulb. She placed the bulb on top of the filled vase so that the roots could grow into water without the bulb actually touching any water. Her amaryllis began blooming in just a couple of weeks after using this method to force the bloom. 

Jim Pennington, interested in growing mushrooms, found an easy-to-use kit from Gardeners Supply. It includes all you need to grow portobellos, buttons and shiitakes. His wife, Judy, wants either a steerable scooter or garden kneeler to help protect her knees this year.

Dr. Lelia Kelly, associate extension professor and consumer horticulture specialist who heads up Mississippi’s Master Gardener Program, recommends pruning tools for gardeners in her Nov. 24 Garden Tips newsletter. Bypass hand pruning shears are recommended for most garden chores. Anvils might crush the stems. Long-handled loppers to cut thicker branches up to 1/2 inch in diameter and a keyhole saw about 7 to 8 inches long with a pointed tip are suggested. A squirt of Lysol or other disinfectant should always be used on tools after pruning. 

A foldable saw — Felco 60 — is a great gift for men gardeners who like to hunt, says Terry Rector. It can be taken into the deer stand to clear away limbs. If you cannot find them locally, check out Forestry Supply on Rankin Street off Gallatin Street in the warehouse district of Jackson. The store carries all kinds of horticulture equipment including the solo backpack sprayer.

Another suggestion is a lifting tool called a potlifter. Designed for gardeners and do-it-yourselfers, it helps you lift heavy objects such as large flowerpots, landscaping stones, tree root balls, firewood, bags of mulch, feed or cement.  This ergonomic back saver is available at 

The best gifts, Linda Christian says, are the friendships and knowledge she has received from garden club and Master Gardener friends. She said she didn’t know a weed from a plant 25 years ago, when she joined her garden club.  Marguerite Malik, Vivian Faulk, Norma Chappell and yours truly are cited as her gardening mentors. Gardeners never know who they might influence or assist, and we all learn from those who are willing to pass on information. 

Miriam Jabour, a Master Gardener and master flower show judge, has been active with the Vicksburg Council of Garden Clubs for more than 20 years. Write to her at 1114 Windy Lake Drive, Vicksburg, MS 39183.