You’d think it would be easy, and it would. Except it’s winter, not spring.

The only thing in the nurseries and box stores in the way of horticulture are trees and shrubs, and it’s too darn cold to be outside gardening anyway.

So what to do? I have some suggestions, and even if I continue to make Jeff Bezos richer, he makes my life easier and he’s right at my fingertips.

My favorite is the Spear Head Spade. It’s pricey, though. Around $50.00, so this would be for the gardener you’re married to, or at least, “the person to contact in case of accident.”  It’s not a shovel. Those are meant to carry soil and are much wider. This Spear Head cuts through roots under an inch in diameter like a knife through butter. Great for digging tree or shrub holes when the soil is root filled.


Next comes a Hori-Hori knife. It’s a Japanese tool that great for slicing through plants to divide them, or to dig a hole for a small potted plant, and really good for planting bulbs because it has a ruler built into the blade. The blade has a serrated side for cutting , a pointed end for digging, and is slightly curved. You can find them for around $20.00. Most come with a holster you can attach to your belt, but the gardeners I know who wear a belt are always guys. I don’t know about you ladies, but my gardening trousers have elastic and attaching anything heavy to the waistband is courting disaster.

There’s always gardening gloves. I go through them like a teenager through a gallon of milk. I don’t buy expensive ones – those can run ten to twenty dollars a pair and I’m always losing one. I buy them by the dozen from, you guessed it, Amazon. A gift of a few pairs of gloves is always appreciated. The most bizarre are the ones with claws! You can dig with your gloves!!

Stay away from a house plant. Unless it’s the kind that can be planted outside when the weather warms up. It’s not that we gardeners don’t like them, it’s that we already have too many to look after and indoor space is limited.

A selection of easy-to-grow seeds (flowers, not veggies) is a wonderful gift, along with a bag of seed starting mix and a trowel. It’s a bit early to find kiosks of seeds, but there are many on-line sources which are reliable.

Spring planted bulbs are always welcome. Think lilies, dahlias, irises, callas and so on. You can have them shipped directly from the seller at planting time, and give your recipient a little holiday card with the description of the bulbs and when to expect them. Again – so many online sources. Eden Brothers, Longfield Gardens, and Brent and Becky’s Bulbs are just a few. A double gift!

There are all kinds of ‘ergonomic’ tools now. These are supposed to be designed to place less stress on your gardening muscles. I suppose they do, but my gardening muscles have been stressed for so many years that they only respond to liniment and a G & T.  Still, great gifts.

But there is one great garden helper that I do find useful. It’s a device that can be used as a stool or a kneeler. I don’t use it as a stool, but it’s a great helper for getting up after kneeling. Just turn it upside down. Aging gardeners like me have no trouble getting down to weed or plant, it’s the getting up again which is the problem!  Finding something stationary on which to grab to haul ourselves up can be a problem, so hauling around one of these little ‘stools’ solves that problem.  Some of them even have little pouches attached for your tools. These, too, are a bit costly, but worth the money.

Gardening books are always appreciated, and the one I use for a ‘bible’ is the Southern Living Gardening Book. The original one with the yellow daisies on the front. The new edition with the blue cover has print so small I can’t decipher it. The original edition is out of print, but you can easily find a used one. And after all, any book that has been read once is used! This is the one that is used by the Master Gardeners at the Port Royal Farmers’ Market Info table. It’s a winner and usually under $10.00.
If you’re feeling especially generous, you can give a Rent-a-Master Gardener visit.  For $75.00 a team of Master Gardeners will visit your recipient and answer questions, identify plants and make suggestions and recommendations for making beautiful and healthy gardens, and give them a comprehensive written report. Just visit the Lowcountry Master Gardener website at and look under Rent-a-Master Gardener.

And if you’re still looking, you can always print a gift certificate for an afternoon of garden help. That may be the most appreciated of all!

Happy Holidays, y’all!