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The Doyenne of Dirt:
Great Gifts For Gardeners

December 9, 2000

Lawn Doggie and Bathing Beauty

audio button This is Ketzel Levineís ultra-hip, totally fantastic and wildly idiosyncratic list of Great Gifts For Gardeners. The selection ranges from the practical to the patently absurd (for the horthead who has everything). Ketzel will not make a dime from any of these suggestions -- well, except from her own book, but we insisted she include it -- so donít worry about any hidden agenda. Just enjoy!


  • Garden Essentials -- including a few gotta-have tools
  • High-End Gifts -- we should all have such money
  • Downright Kitsch -- good, bad, and really ugly
  • Ideas for armchair gardeners
  • Here's more from Talking Plants

    A Quick Caveat From the Doyenne
    So what do I know about holiday shopping? Not much. We got socks on Hanukah and hid in Chinese restaurants on Christmas. But I do know a few things about shopping, so I will say this: If you havenít a clue what the gardeners in your life want, get them gift certificates to their favorite nurseries (or mine). Trust me, you can stop right there. However, if youíre looking for a good time and a great gift, read onÖ

    Garden Essentials


    This is an unpaid endorsement: Every gardener must have Felco pruners, never mind the price. Iím left-handed and swear by my #9; my friend Tom Fischer at Horticulture Magazine swears by #7 (ďswiveling ergonomic handles much less wear and tear on your wristĒ). You can get Felcos everywhere; prices vary. If you happen to shop at Aliceís Garden Shop, donít miss her hemp twine (ah, memories).

    Poacher's Spade
    English Poacher's Spade

    Whether itís called a poacherís spade or a perennial spade or who knows what, I cannot garden without this tool. Perfect for popping out perennials at a momentís notice without leaving a trace of chaos behind. Iíve seen some perfectly good versions in the better nurseries if youíre not Smith & Hawken inclined.

    Garden Boots
    Garden Boots

    Much to my chagrin, both my sisters and one of my best friends covet these silly boots from Iíve already ordered a pair of the frogs, though my own preference would be something humorless, e.g., Wellington boots. Nevertheless, both frogs and bugs are wholly hose-down-able and yeah, O.K., theyíre cute.

    Frog Pants
    Frog Pants

    Maybe you could wear your frog boots and your frog pants while cleaning out your frog pond (Whatís with all the frogs this year? And all the pugs?) These gloves from Ultimate Goods are said to keep you dry to the elbows, no matter what youíre dredging through. This can only be a good thing on a cold, nasty day.

    Photo: Richard W. Rogers of Brothers Herbs & Tree Peonies

    I asked author Michael Pollan (Second Nature, A Place Of My Own) what he wanted for Hanukah. Along with 50,000 gallons of water for his new pond, heíd never pass up a tree peony "because they're too expense to buy for yourself, because they last forever, and because they're such a powerful presence in the garden you'll never forgot who gave it to you." In addition to Brothers Herbs & Peonies, look into Cricket Hill Farms.

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    High End Gift Ideas

    Little and Lewis
    Hosta Leaves

    Garden art is a sometimes thing. Sometimes itís tacky, sometimes itís trendy, and every once in a while, itís timeless. I am completely besotted with everything produced by Little and Lewis (in the interest of disclosure, I should add that I am also besotted with them). These concrete hosta leaves are the smallest of their wares and the easiest to ship.
    Mr. Can Man
    Mr. Can Man

    One of the many whimsical creatures hatched whole from the mind of Haas Sculpture Studios. You can lose yourself for days at his website (and lose your shirt in no time at all). He has ample smaller pieces, but for my money, Iíd save up for some of his wackier work.

    Hammock Stand
    Roman Arc ®

    I canít vouch for the quality Ė Iíll leave the research to you Ė but the design of this Florida Plants hammock seems particularly inviting. One could argue that hammocks are a dubious gift since gardeners rarely sit still, but if youíve tried everything else to get a gardener's attention, this might do the trick.

    Banded Collana
    Banded Collana

    O.K., now weíre getting serious. As astonishing as it seems, the artists at Lunaform out of Maine can and do ship their thousand-pound pots (though this gorgeous blue figure is a mere 250 pounds). Prices are breathtaking, but so is the work (it costs nothing to peruse the website, so be sure you do). Iíd say this is about as good as giving gets.

    Penguin with Goat Head
    Penguin with Goat Head


    Thea Joselow, my effusive online content developer, calls Frank Flemingís 19" high Penguin With Goat Head "a garden gnome for millionaires." If you visit his website, and youíre frog-inclined, donít miss the Orb Structure. Be forewarned, the prices for his bronze sculptures are not for the weak of wallet.


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    And Now for the Kitsch

    We've got interns Joy Collman and Hogan Carter to thank for much of what follows. See what a Lewis and Clark College education could have done for you?

    Lawn Doggie and Bathing Beauty
    The Happy Couple

    Now tell me, have you ever seen anything quite as awful and amazing as this heavy-breasted feline from Florida Plants? Her partnerís name is Lawn Doggy and I can assure you, my beagle is not amused.


    Desert Sierra Fountain
    Desert Sierra

    Then again, this sombrero fountain is almost as deliciously dreadful without being quite as embarrassing (what is this Florida Plants buyer on?) Itís a tough choice for the kitsch-crazed gardener, unless...


    Ten Commandment Wall Plaque
    Ten Commandments

    Heís Jewish! In which case, why not break all the rules (groan) and buy him this wall plaque from A Touch Of Decorating. Go ahead, I dare you.


    Wacky Retro
    Wacky Retro
    These garden stakes are just plain fun on a stick. Youíve probably noticed that stakes are quite the rage these days, though few are quite this clever, thank you Apparatus Iron. The perfect gift for all you elbow-elbow-wrist-wrist folks.


    Deerstalker Birdhouse Hat

    From the sublime to the ridiculous - or in this case from the Urban Gardener - here's a birdhouse for the hunter-gatherer in your life. Itís not my favorite Ė I prefer the British Bobby Hat Ė but I can't deny the sordid twist of birds seeking shelter in this beastkillerís bonnet.

    Mushroom Sprinkler

    Finally, from Magic Mushroom Garden Statuary, we have Ė can you guess? Ė sprinkler heads! Iím not sure these are bad enough to be kitsch but they are momentarily irresistible.



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    See great ideas for armchair gardeners.

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