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Anyone who has raked anything knows the frustration of raking up debris in a garden bed or gravel path — and then struggling to pick up the rakings while leaving the good soil or gravel behind. Enter the Rake Assassin, a handy tool that doesn’t just rake but has strong enough tines to shovel up the debris while leaving the good stuff behind.
“The Drunken Botanist” by Amy Stewart makes gardening sexy and, as one reviewer says, even a little dangerous, as with her 2009 treatise “Wicked Plants: The Weed That Killed Lincoln’s Mother and Other Botanical Atrocities” and 2011 follow-up, “Wicked Bugs: The Louse That Conquered Napoleon’s Army & Other Diabolical Insects.” Her most recent bestseller, “The Drunken Botanist,” is a deep and often humorous dive into every plant that’s been wrung into something alcoholic. Indeed, she writes, “Around the world … there is not a tree or shrub or delicate wildflower that has not been harvested, brewed and bottled.” Her books are the perfect companion to a comfortable chair, a roaring fire and your favorite libation and make a great gift for anyone interested in plants and keen writing. (Note: If you have an artistic gardener on your list, check out her Wicked Plants coloring book too! $10.50)
Any serious gardener is bound to be a connoisseur of weeding tools, since weeds are an omnipresent part of any garden and our quest to kill them is unending. The goal is to find a tool that doesn’t poison our precious organics but still does the job with a minimum of fuss. That’s why many gardeners and farmers praise this elegant and efficient Japanese tool: the Kusakichi Nejiri Scraper, a sort of short-handled hoe designed to scrape young weeds from the soil while providing a sharp edge to dig out stubborn roots.
Maybe once upon a time our kitchens had handy ledges for us to hang parsley, thyme and our other harvested herbs, but it’s not so easy in today’s sleek modern kitchens. Enter Gardener’s Supply Company’s handsome herb-drying rack, a powder-coated steel circle that only needs one hook to hold at least a half dozen good-sized bunches of herbs. What better way to make a sleek modern kitchen feel homey and delicious! (The extra thoughtful gift giver can purchase three additional hooks for just $5 — and offer to install it as well).
Neck burns — those nasty sunburns on your tender exposed neck — are a common complaint for anyone who spends time outdoors looking at the ground. And as our sun rays get sharper, a cool, well-fitting hat is mandatory these days for any gardener, says Tom Carruth, rose curator for The Huntington Library, Art Museum and Botanical Gardens. He keeps his Adventure hat from Sunday Afternoons at the ready whenever he goes outside: This nylon hat is lightweight, stain resistant and even floats in water. Bonus features: It has a roomy and adjustable crown, the 7.5-inch neck flap folds up when you want a breeze and it comes in lots of colors — pink, purple and blue for the bold and neutrals for the camo crowd who just want to blend in.
Starting at $18.
One of gardening’s biggest hassles is toting all the tools you need to do the job at hand. Many gardening tools are too tall or bulky to fit in a gardening bag or bucket, and then there’s the problem of not remembering where you last left your shovel or rake, when your hands were full carrying other items back to the garage. Enter this brilliant Mobile Tool Storage Caddy by the Gardener’s Supply Company, which resembles a modified golf bag on wheels, designed with plenty of pockets and handles to carry tools of all sizes. There’s even a smaller bucket on the back to hold harvested produce or garden debris. And when you’re done, you can store all your tools in the same place! This may be the next best thing to having your own (human) garden caddy.
Nighttime can be one of the most magical times to be in your garden, eating dinner or just relaxing with a beer, but garish overhead lighting can dim those special effects. This Mission-style solar lantern — 10 inches square and 11 inches tall — will class up any outdoor table while providing just enough light to show off what you’re eating while maintaining the evening’s ambiance. The flitting dragonfly design looks nice from indoors too, hanging outside a window. And because it’s solar powered, no need to fuss with power cords or candles.
$45 or two for $40 each.
The mottled copper (or smooth berry) finish on these doughnut-shaped feeders make them attractive enough to install close to a window, so you can at least admire the simple, clean design when the birds aren’t feeding. Don’t expect it to be empty long, however. Each feeder holds up to a cup of bird seed, and the open design makes it easy to admire who is visiting today. In rainy weather, one or two birds can even hop inside while they dine. The feeders are 7.5 inches in diameter and come with their own 17-inch metal hanging cord.
$20, or 2 for $16.50 each.
These Swiss-made clippers are the best choice for gardeners who grow roses and other flowers. They’re designed to cut and hold stems or branches until you can put them in a collection bin, eliminating the need to cut with one hand and grab with the other. This is particularly useful for rose bushes, when you don’t want to fish fallen flowers from thorny branches.
OK, it’s a given that gardeners can never have enough hand clippers, but these sturdy, lightweight Felco F100 snips are perfect for precision trims, whether you’re manicuring your marijuana plant, pruning sucker branches from tomatoes or trimming the perfect bloom from a thicket of flowers. The long, slender cutting head makes it useful indoors too when preparing flowers for the vase.
Most gardeners have good intentions about adding native plants to their yards, but when we’re browsing in the nursery, those young native plants can look rather dull and, yes, weedy, so how to choose? The Theodore Payne Foundation for Wild Flowers & Native Plants knows your pain, and with the help of the Tree of Life Nursery, Rancho Santa Ana Botanic Garden and the Santa Barbara Botanic Garden, has created a clever set of flashcards that list the growth characteristics of 69 California native plants in Spanish and English, with full-color photos of flowering mature plants.
Holsters have always been hip for gunslingers and business execs; now gardeners can up their coolness and efficiency with the Hip-Trug, a sleek bucket-like holster that lets gardeners weed, deadhead or harvest with both hands, while stuffing their bounty (or clippings) into the bucket attached to their waistband or belt. Hip-Trugs are made by Burgon & Ball of England, a sister company to Southern California’s premiere garden tool maker Corona Tools, which is selling this unique gift on its U.S. website. (Joe Cool sunglasses not included.)