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Arkadelphia Siftings Herald - Arkadelphia, AR
  • Gardener: Gift ideas for the gardener on your list

  • Garden cart: It's one of the best purchases I've ever made. Mine is a large wooden cart with bicycle tires on the side that I ordered from an ad in the back of a gardening magazine, but you can find them online, too.

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  • I was recently asked to name my must-have garden gift ideas for the holiday season.
    I hadn't thought of this topic for years, so I really gave it some thought, and here's what I came up with. I feel confident your special gardening someone would be quite happy with any of the following:
    -- Garden cart: It's one of the best purchases I've ever made. Mine is a large wooden cart with bicycle tires on the side that I ordered from an ad in the back of a gardening magazine, but you can find them online, too. I use it all the time and love having something so easy to use and so functional in the garden.
    But don't skimp on cheap versions. They're flimsy, and they don't stand up to serious use. Invest in a quality cart, and you'll never regret it! Plan to spend about $350 with shipping. I've had mine for more than 20 years. It has spent most of its life exposed to the elements, but it still looks good. And other than needing a couple of new tires, it still works perfectly.
    -- Garden bench: A garden bench can make any garden look better, but be sure to find ones made from weather-resistant wood. Commonly used wood includes teak, shorea, mahogany and cedar. But please do your homework before buying to make sure you're getting the most sustainably harvested varieties. A good resource is The Forest Stewardship Council (www.fscus.org).
    True garden benches are meant to be left outdoors year-round. They don't need to be treated, and the older they get, the better they look. Higher-end garden-furniture stores carry the better ones, but there are plenty of choices online and in magazines. Prices vary widely depending on the wood, style and size.
    -- A truckload of compost, manure, garden soil or mulch: Any real gardener will love a delivered truckload of this stuff. The gardeners in your life will be so impressed with your purchase, they'll brag about it to all their friends (guaranteed). But to really enhance the gift, be prepared to offer to spread it as well, or make arrangements to have it done for them.
    Make sure you buy from a reputable company. Some of this stuff can be of really poor quality, so it pays to ask a trusted source where to get bulk supply. A small dump-truck load is around 10 cubic yards, and prices range from about $15 to $30 per yard depending on the type and quality of product.
    -- Composter or compost bin: If you have serious gardeners on your list, they need and want a composting system! There are many on the market, and it's a must-have to making the best soil amendment for any garden. There are pros and cons to the various styles, so do your homework. They are generally broken down into two main categories: open- and closed-bin systems.
    Page 2 of 2 - -- Waterproof gardening boots or shoes: These are an absolute must-have for every gardener! My green English garden boots cost about $80 and have served me well for more than 20 years of use.
    -- Garden coaching: There's a relatively new garden specialty-niche industry called garden coaching. For a reasonable hourly rate, a qualified garden coach will come to your house and walk through your garden and landscape with you. The idea is to provide hands-on training and help your gardener with the tools and knowledge to take on projects with confidence. Hourly rates and plans vary, so ask around, and be sure to get references.
    -- A master landscape design or garden plan: For a few hundred dollars, you can hire a landscape designer to come to your garden, consider your short- and long-term goals and then prepare a master plan that you can tackle as time and budget permit. The beauty is you'll have the plan forever and can work on it over time. It's the gift that keeps on giving and never goes out of style.
        
    Joe Lamp'l, host of  "Growing a Greener World" on PBS, is a Master Gardener and author. For more information visit www.joegardener.com.

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