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Ann Wright: ‘Tis the season for holiday gifts

Just as a woodworker would ask for specific types of saws, sanders or other tools, a gardener may have some specific tools on the gift list. There are so many options available – large and small. Quality hand pruners or a pruning saw may fit the need quite well.
Photo by Chuck Ingels

As Thanksgiving comes and goes, this is the time of year many will be considering options for holiday gift-giving. There are a number of terrific choices for the gardeners on your list, and local shops and nurseries have many options on hand. Here are some suggestions for gardening related gifts.

One item to add to your list is the Master Gardeners’ updated, 2020 Western Sierra Foothill Garden Guide. Published this past spring, the Garden Guide provides cultural tips and an abundance of gardening information relevant to the Sierra foothills. New and updated sections on growing native plants, container gardening, composting and vermicomposting have been added to the content. The 2020 edition also provides lists of plants that grow well in our area, as well as expanded information about integrated pest management. As one of our major fund-raising events, Garden Guide sales go back to our local Nevada County Master Gardener program. Although we wanted to launch the updated book with great fanfare, a little quieter approach is being taken; we are grateful to several local vendors who are offering the books for sale in their stores. The books are currently available at A to Z Nursery, B&C Nursery, New Life Nursery in Penn Valley, Peaceful Valley Farm and Garden Supply, Weiss Brothers Nursery and, Eisley’s Nursery in Auburn, now under new ownership. If you have any questions about the Garden Guide, go to our website at http://ncmg.ucanr.org/ to look at what hides inside the book. You may also ask questions via the “Got Questions” link on the home page.

An item on many gardener’s gift-lists is gardening gloves. One size does not fit all – there are a number of options available. Gloves are essentially protective devices. They protect hands from thorns, scratches, insect bites and other irritants. There are gloves specifically for pruning thorny plants. These sometimes are leather with longer wrist protection and are thicker to prevent injury from thorns. Gloves with puncture-proof coating may be perfect for the gardener who needs to clear blackberry bushes or other thorny projects. Other types of gloves include nitrile gloves which are protective, but not totally puncture proof. These types of gloves but may offer shielding from insects, splinters, moisture, irritants and muddy soil. Cotton gloves are comfortable and breathable, but not very protective.



Just as a woodworker would ask for specific types of saws, sanders or other tools, a gardener may have some specific tools on the gift list. There are so many options available – large and small. Quality hand pruners or a pruning saw may fit the need quite well. Bypass pruning shears come with ergonomic handles, and sharp blades which makes pruning chores much simpler. Trimming or thinning shears are best for smaller jobs or cutting flowers. Pruning saws are best for taking out larger limbs from trees. A powered pole saw is also a consideration for tree pruning on taller trees.

There are a number of terrific choices for the gardeners on your list, and local shops and nurseries have many options on hand.

Other large tools are also great gift options. Sharp, shiny new shovels, trowels or even a broadfork will be appreciated. A few years ago, a broadfork was on my list for Christmas. Now after a few years of use, I am glad I asked for this more costly, but efficient digger. What an invigorating tool! The broadfork, also known as a grelinette or U-Fork, generally has five or seven tines which are spaced at varying widths and have a range of depths. With a handle at each end of the frame, the broadfork may also be called the two-handed fork. The broadfork is a tool for cultivating soil – the tines are forced into the soil with the gardener stepping on the frame of the broadfork, allowing the tines to penetrate deep into hardpan or heavy soil. The weight of the gardener helps get the tines down into the soil, and then soil is loosened by rocking back on the fork. The soil is not turned over completely (which promotes more weed growth and damages the strata of the soil), but is just loosened in 6 to 8 inch increments, making an easier job of weeding and allowing crumbling and aeration of the soil. The broadfork also helps preserve the soil against compaction, and promotes deeper penetration of soil with fewer disturbances to underlying microbes and soil structure. Plus, using the broadfork is good exercise, and promotes steady balance!



Other gift ideas include the gift of plants, books, wagons or carts. Supplies for birds complements gardens richly and attracts our feathered friends. The gift of a membership to a gardening club or group is also a thoughtful way to care for the community. Consider a gift membership to a native plant group such as the Redbud Chapter of the California Native Plant Society (https://chapters.cnps.org/redbud/), the Friends of the UC Davis Arboretum and Public Garden (https://arboretum.ucdavis.edu/membership) or other non-profits. Or, donate on behalf of your gardener, to our Master Gardener program – donations are accepted via our home page. Give a gift while giving back!

We are grateful to our community for your continued support. We miss you all very much but are glad to have had the opportunity to connect virtually during on on-line workshops. Check back often for upcoming workshops in 2021!

Ann Wright is a Nevada County Master Gardener.


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