Skip the gloves and trowel. Every gardener already has enough supplies. To delight a gardener friend with a useful gift, check out some of these ideas, instead.

Rain gauge
My rain gauge is very simple and tops out at 5 inches. It’s stuck into a flower pot on the patio and it’s an easy way to keep track of watering needs. My guide is: less than an inch in a week and new transplants will probably need supplemental water. Gauges come in many sizes and price points.

If you want to take a major step up, go for Productive Alternatives’ Stratus rain gauge. It meets the standards of the National Weather Service, is precise and measures up to 11 inches at a time, which is useful given the kinds of storms we’ve had. Prepare to amaze your friends with highly specific data about precipitation.

Pollinator plants
For a gardener who is ready to transform the yard into an ecological paradise, Prairie Moon’s Pollinator Introduction Kit has all the important elements. The seed mix for locations that get full and partial sun will cover up to 1,000 square feet and features a diverse range of plants that are native and will grow in our hardiness zone. Instructions for site preparation and sowing are included.

The kit also includes a nesting shelter for native bees, a guide about how plants interact with and support insects, and a “Prairie in Progress” sign to share your intentions.

If that is too big of a step for you, the Wild Seed Project also has seed mixes with species that are easy to get started. For example, the sunny/dry mix includes black-eyed Susans, butterfly weed, foxglove beardtongue, smooth blue aster, spotted bee balm and an aster. Each will establish quickly and in general conditions without much fuss, and the plants will bloom from spring through the fall.

Brave The Wild RiverBrave the Wild River: The Untold Story of Two Women Who Mapped the Botany of the Grand Canyon
In the 1930s, when this story by author Melissa L. Sevigny begins, traveling the Colorado River by boat for hundreds of miles through the Grand Canyon was like taking a trip into space in 2023. Few people had tried it (and fewer survived). When botanists Elzada Clover and Lois Jotter embarked on their six-week endeavor to collect and categorize plants, the nation’s media was riveted and the odds were against them.

This story riveted me, too, and spans water rights in the West, development, women’s achievements and challenges in science, while also being an adventure story about plants. Gardeners (and all of those other people who aren’t gardeners) can take a vicarious journey this winter. Be prepared to want to head off to Arizona after reading this.

Fedco Coloring Book and Art
Brought to you by the makers of my favorite seed catalog, this 26-page coloring book includes illustrations from past year’s catalogs. Fedco uses botanical art from old seed companies intermixed with staff drawings throughout its black-and-white seed, tree and bulb catalogs. Make them your own by coloring and framing them. There are also prints of cover art available.

Membership to …
Gardeners learn about gardening by looking at other people’s plants. It’s a fact. Locally, there are diverse opportunities from Stonecrop, Manitoga and Storm King across the river. Farther out, visits to the New York or Brooklyn botanical gardens are always a hit. Memberships make it easy to visit multiple times throughout the season and experience the flow of successional flowering.

Wild Ones is a grassroots organization with chapters around New York dedicated to natural landscapes. They offer workshops and resources as well as planting designs for many conditions, making native-plant gardening accessible. Consider a gift membership for someone who is eager to learn more and connect with other gardeners.

Flower PressFlower press
This wood press comes with supplies to dry and flatten favorite blooms and foliage to create your own dried flower displays. They could become a collage of seasonal highlights from the yard or a hike.

I’ve come to accept that I can’t have a bird feeder without attracting other wildlife, specifically bears. The winters have been too uneven and hibernation isn’t happening consistently. To avoid creating negative interactions with bears, I’m going with a birdbath, instead. It’s a way to enjoy closeups and still provide a service. The Dances With Stone carved rock birdbaths are appealing and easy to maintain.

Behind The Story

Type: Opinion

Opinion: Advocates for ideas and draws conclusions based on the author/producer’s interpretation of facts and data.

Doan, who resides in Philipstown, has been writing for The Current since 2013. She edits the weekly calendar and writes the gardening column. Location: Philipstown. Languages: English. Areas of expertise: Gardening, environment

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