Gifts For Gardeners

At this time of year I get a lot of queries from wives, husbands, associates, children and friends about what would be a great gift for the gardener in their life. I do the best I can to answer those questions. I can be good, and I can be off. Just saying that my gift guide is no better than my opinion. Like most people, I try to do a good job matching the gift to the person. So to follow is an 11th hour gardener’s gift guide, of sorts. A gift guide for those of you still stymied at the last minute by the gardener on your gift list. I want to preface my remarks with this story. Rob sent me the picture above of an antique staddle stone while he was in England this past September, shopping for the spring 2017 season at Detroit Garden Works.  The stone itself has an incredibly beautiful shape, and an equally beautiful reticulated surface. I loved the stone wall in the background, and the moss at its feet. The fallen green apples and the brown fruit leaves that litter the ground speak to the fall season in Britain. A section of an agricultural wheel in the right of the picture tells me where he was when he took the picture. He has a relationship with a dealer in Britain who farms, and collects fine objects for the garden – many of them with an agricultural history. I am keenly interested in staddle stones, as they are one of many antique or vintage ornaments for the garden that are saturated with the history of a long and strong intersection of agriculture, and the landscape. I like them. But this particular stone takes my breath and my gardening heart away. I of course expected that since Rob sent me this picture, that he had bought this stone. Not so, he tells me today. Dang.  But at least I have learned that objects for the garden redolent with history appeal to me the most.

sneeboer garden toolsThat story told, a stellar holiday gift to the gardener in your life will depend on how far you are willing to go to understand the particular nature of their love of the garden.  Some gardeners are very hands on. The grime under their nails and dirty clothes that have real dirt on them is a clue. The shop carries just about the complete line of gardening tools from the Dutch company Sneeboer. A  hand digging and weeding gardener would love one or a collection of these job specific tools. This company goes so far as to manufacture a left and a right handed trowel.

hori hori garden knifeIf your dirt gardener has no interest in a collection of tools, they might like one tool that does just about all.  Barebones has created a hori hori inspired tool that digs holes, uproots weeds, and incidentally takes the cap of a bottle of beer at the end of a long day in the garden. This tool is hefty and useful.  It can do a job it was never meant to do, and not break.

dibbers and dib dabsIf your gardener likes to grow plants from seed in an orderly way, a dibble or a dib dab is a great choice. Neat gardeners are not so ordinary, but if you have one in your household, it should be apparent. Tools get cleaned off and put away at the end of the gardening day. Dirty boots get scraped, or get left outside the back door. These beautifully made beech wood planting tools may enchant the organized and methodical gardener.

flexi-tieIf your gardener goes so far as to stake wayward perennials and shrubs, a spool of flexi-tie is a great gift.  This chocolate brown stretchy plastic tie is harmless to plants. If the plant grows, the tie stretches.  I have staked big annuals, roses, and the wayward branches of my arborvitae with this tie. Flexi-Tie is English made-we are their only US distributor.

French made black soap with olive oilIf the gardener on your list gardens barehanded, this entirely natural, vegetal, and scentless French made black soap loaded with olive oil is an end of the day treat. Combined with a nail brush, the wash up will make a clean and refreshing ending to the gardening day.

mud glovesOn the other hand, some gardeners prefer gloves. There are plenty gardening gloves out there, but Mud Gloves are inexpensive and durable.

flower press
A flower press is the perfect gift for that gardener who believes that gardening is an art that should be recorded.  It is also a great gift for a young gardener who is just becoming acquainted with the beauty of nature, or an older gardener who is not doing so much digging any more.

vintage watering cansThe container we had delivered from England just this past week features an incredible collection of vintage watering cans. Your gardener may water select plants by hand, or they may be equally happy for a beautiful watering can to ornament their garden. We have a client whose garage has shelves for his collection of vintage watering cans – no kidding.

grapevine topiary formsWe manufacture steel topiary forms in a variety of shapes.  These forms have had grapevine added to them.  If the gardener on your list admires anything formal or topiary-like in the garden, these forms could be a hit. The four prongs at the bottoms make them easy to insert in the soil, or in a container.  They would be good looking planted with a small growing vine, or not. Sunne would be able to figure out how to gift wrap these, and Rob would be able to figure out how how to get them in your vehicle. The rest is up to you.

amaryllisSome gardeners focus on the plants. Detroit Garden Works does carry seasonal plants for those gardeners for whom what is green is everything.  We have just about to bloom hellebores, frosty selaginella ferns, and amaryllis.

amaryllis vaseThe gardener who loves the green, but is not so happy handling the dirt would appreciate an amaryllis vase. An amaryllis bulb can be brought in to bloom by filling the bulb portion of the vase with water, and setting the bulb down so only the roots are in water. The high sides of the vase keep will those tall and heavy bloom stalks aloft. This vase makes keeping the garden going in the winter so simple.

hand made terra cotta vase from EnglandThe gardener who loves fresh cut flowers would appreciate this contemporary garden style vase. This hand made English terra cotta vase imprinted with a fern frond is beautiful. Think how great it would look filled with cut flowers.

holiday ornamentSome gardeners would appreciate a quirky gift far afield from the ordinary. Rob’s holiday arrangement featuring vintage bottles, an English vintage tray, and a silver wire string of lights – different. A one of a kind gift.

citrus and herbs scented candlesOther gardeners like to bring the warmth of the garden indoors.  The citrus and herbs candles would make a thoughtful and beautiful gift. The orange and basil scent is my favorite. Any one of this series of candles might make a great gift to the gardener on your list who has had to move indoors.

Garden Design MagazineStill not so sure what the gardener on your list would be so happy to receive? A gift subscription to Garden Design Magazine is perfect for all manner of gardeners. How so? They cover in great depth a wide range of topics sure to interest every gardener. There are gardens from all over the US to see and read about.They write about plants, garden makers, tools, cut flowers, garden ornament and more. This publication is more book like than most magazines-they do not accept any advertising. The articles are thoughtful, and incredibly well written, and are season specific. The photography is stellar. I am so happy to hear they have a winter issue just about to come out. Jim Peterson and his staff have recreated Garden Design Magazine such that any gardener on your gift list would be thrilled with a subscription. I am so impressed with what they have accomplished. I feel sure this would be a great gift to just about anyone with an interest in the landscape and garden, but there is no need to take my word for it. See for yourself. They have made a short video about who they are, and where they hope to take their publication: Garden Design

I am equally happy to oblige with a link to their subscription page:   a gift subscription to Garden Design Magazine

I know this is all last minute, but help at the last minute can be quality help!

Save

Save

Save

Save

Save

Save

Save

Save

Save

Save

Save

Save

Garden Design Magazine 2016

Garden Design MagazineDetroit Garden Works has been on hiatus since January 15. Anyone who comes to our door is welcome to come inside, but most of what there is to see now are the repairs we’ve made to our old block walls and roof, the new paint throughout, and clean surfaces all around. What Rob has selected for our 2016 gardening season is beginning to arrive. It will take every bit of the next two weeks to put the shop back together for our March reopening. But there is another sure sign of spring. The early spring 2016 issue of Garden Design Magazine is set to ship the beginning of next week. If you are a gardener of a certain age, you probably recognize the name. Garden Design Magazine, in its previous life, was published between 1982 and 2013.  Jim Peterson, entrepreneur and risk taker, decided to buy the rights to the magazine from the Bonnier Corporation shortly after they ceased publication.

Garden Design Mafazine Early Spring 2016Though his primary interest was in establishing a new innovative digital presence for Garden Design, gardening aficionados all over the country spoke strongly to their appreciation for the printed page. Who knows what possessed him to commit to bringing that print publication back to life in an incredibly beautiful and signature way, but he did. I greatly admire this about him. Jim called me to ask if Detroit Garden Works would consider carrying his new magazine. I loved how he was willing to take his passion as far as making his case for his new magazine personally to people in the retail garden community.  I admire any gardener that creates magic from dirt, and Jim Peterson is no exception. Of course I said yes. I am an American landscape designer. A publication devoted to American landscape and garden design is a resource I would treasure. I take great pride that my practice was featured in their first issue.

photograph by Rob Cardillo

Garden Design Magazine is easy to like. Each of the four yearly issues are much more journal than magazine. The early spring issue which will ship the first of next week is 148 pages, none of which are devoted to ads. The paper is of such a substantive and fine quality that the photographs represent beautifully-more like a monograph than a magazine. The beauty of the photo reproductions do justice to the beauty of the photographs themselves. This highly evocative photograph by Rob Cardillo speaks volumes about composition and color in a garden. Who knows what article is in store that will feature this photograph. The quality of the photographs in every issue is matched by articles bound to be of interest to anyone and everyone who gardens – either personally or professionally.

photograph by Rob CummingsI had occasion to speak with Thad Orr, editor in chief of Garden Design, at some length last week.  I was interested to hear him talk about his approach to the work of creating a magazine that would encourage wide readership in the gardening community. He is clearly keen to represent three broadly brushed and overlapping areas of interest. The individual gardener, who designs and tends their own garden, will find articles that speak to a personal scale, scope and interest. The professional landscape and garden designer, whose practice is a life’s work, and those with an abiding interest in horticulture either as a grower or a practitioner round out the trio. This photograph by Rob Cummings speaks not only to the hard work of garden, but the artistry that can accompany every aspect of great garden making. It also speaks to other groups in the gardening world-those who design and make tools, furniture, garden gear, or ornament.

photograph by Jason IngramThe magazine is willing to celebrate any aspect of garden making. There is no stultifying narrative about what gets to be called gardening, and what doesn’t. Their tent is a big one. The benefit to readers is whatever topic they choose to cover, they address with some depth. A new gardener might fill their first containers with geraniums, as they are ubiquitous in nurseries all over the country.  I love them – they are the little black dress of the container plant world.  But this pot, photographed by Jason Ingram, features a geranium I am not familiar with. There will be those who are interested in the plants in this pot.  And those who are interested in the design of it.

photograph by Pia ClodiGrowing and arranging cut flowers appeals to everyone who has ever been enchanted by flowers. I have no idea in what context this scrumptious but simple arrangement of anemones, lisianthus and carnations was photographed by Pia Clodi, but I will be finding out next week.

photograph by Bob StefkoGarden Design does a great job of telling stories about people who garden in one form or another.  This part interests me greatly, as every person has a different point of view. And most surely a point of view worth learning about. As a landscape design professional, I am naturally interested what other people in horticulture and design are doing. Bob Stefko’s portrait of Roy Diblik, well known American plantsman, grower, author and designer tells me an interesting story is on the way. If you gardener, and are not familiar with his work, there is a golden opportunity to get acquainted.

photograph by Robert YuI do believe there is some great landscape design being done in the US.  Photographed by Robert Yu, this contemporary landscape is absolutely stunning. It is not a landscape I am familiar with. Garden Design is a forum for landscape and garden design that I appreciate having available to me. I might not otherwise see this garden. I am keenly interested to read more about it.

photograph by Ngoc Minh Ngo30 years have passed since since I last grew bearded iris. This astonishing photograph by Ngoc Minh Ngo not only makes me want to grow them again, it makes me want to grow these.

photograph by Rob CardilloAs much as I appreciate this garden and fence, as photographed by Rob Cardillo, what strikes me the most is the idea that a landscape and garden can be a gateway to a way of life that is good for people. Garden Design makes this case in many different ways.  If you do not already subscribe, I would recommend you do so. Subscribe now, and you get the early spring issue from which all of these photographs were taken, free. Check it out:  subscribe to Garden Design here Yes, I have a good bit of enthusiasm for this magazine. It is the only magazine of its kind. I would like to see them continue to cover horticulture and design for a long time to come.