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Top Ten Gifts for Gardeners of the Chesapeake

The Tallamy Trilogy, Twine and More!

Media in all forms brims with gift lists this time of year. I never thought I would do the same but having received questions over the past week, here it goes! Suggestions are in no particular order and it seems appropriate to mention again that Nuts for Natives has no profit motive or financial connection to any business.

1. Felco Pruners

felco pruners

These pruners are the type that last a life time. Felcos are very much hyped and live up to it. There are different styles for different size hands and lefties. On the company website, you can search pruners by hand size, right or left handed and the thickness of the material to be cut to determine which model will work best. Another big plus is spare screws and other parts that become loose or lost over the years can readily be found. These pruners are expensive but seem to be built to last. Once you determine which style you are looking for, you can buy them at many local garden centers or on-line.

Does your gardener already have a pair? Another great gift is a refurbish of the pruners by mail. You can mail a pair of Felco pruners to Amberg's in Stanley, NY and they will tighten, oil, sharpen and replace any worn or missing parts. You mail the pruners; they immediately contact you with an estimate. I recently did this. Mine were in very poor shape and missing several parts. It cost $38 plus my cost to mail the pruners in.

2. A Bulk Delivery of Compost or Arbor Chips

new bed with mulch over cardboard

If the gardener you know is creating a woodland garden, converting lawn to garden bed or improving builder grade topsoil, a bulk delivery of compost or arbor chips can be a very welcome gift!

veteran compost

Veteran Compost delivers throughout out Maryland, DC, northern Virginia and southern Pennsylvania. The website can be a bit tricky but if you fill out the form at the very bottom of this page, they get back to you. Or you can go old school and call!

3. A Good Book

For new to natives gardeners, these are books that will be turned to again and again. Chesapeake Gardening & Landscaping, written in 2015, is a great manual for building a native plant garden. Barbara is a well known gardener on Maryland's Eastern Shore. The Living Landscape, published in 2014 by Rick Darke and Doug Tallamy, is a beautiful introduction to gardening for human and wildlife needs. The photos are stunning. Essential Native Trees and Shrubs from 2018 is an excellent reference for all you need to know about a large range of native trees and shrubs. This book is a trusty sidekick for native plant gardeners.

If your gardener has not yet read a Doug Tallamy book, the Tallamy Trilogy would be a dream gift! For beginners who like nature, I would recommend Bringing Nature Home. The Nature of Oaks is for the avid nature lover. Nature's Best Hope has broad appeal.

For the gardener who is really just getting started and wants a primer, I would suggest Margaret Roach's A Way to Garden. It's an updated version of Margaret's original book about creating and maintaining a garden on 2 acres in upstate New York. Many of the updates relate to Margaret's journey with native plants and how she adds them thoughtfully to an already established garden.

The 2022 NorthEast Native Plant Primer details 235 native plants including annuals. There is lots of growing advice for those already familiar with native plants. Deer-Resistant Native Plants, published in 2021, is a comprehensive resource for gardeners who garden with deer.

4. A Tray of Plugs

The Pollen Nation in New Jersey sells plugs of native plants by mail. You can order a gift certificate now and trays can be ordered in February. Plugs can be hard to come by and are a great way to create masses of plants for a bit less.

Bona Terra

Closer to home, always a plus, you might offer your gardener a trip to Bona Terra in Anne Arundel County to peruse the plugs once gardening season opens. They sell many. local eco-type plants in plug size and the quality is superb.

6. An On-Line Class at Mt. Cuba

Mt Cuba Entrance

Over the past several years, Mt. Cuba developed a number of virtual classes. These are available on demand and range from Weeds 101 to Groundcovers as Living Mulch to Fabulous Phlox. You can order the gift on-line and your gardener can watch and rewatch at their leisure!

7. Membership to Adkins Arboretum

Adkins Arboretum

Adkins Arboretum is a 400 acre native garden and preserve that offers an incredible array of experiences from walking your dog to learning in great detail to relaxing. Adkins is one of the longest serving and most active champions of native plants and it is just a super fun place to visit! Memberships start at $4 a month or $50 for the year!

8. A Big Spool of Twine

spool of untreated twine

While this can be an economical gift, it may also be one of the most valuable. This twine has unlimited uses in the garden! I bought a spool on a whim and have been loving it ever since. It seems endless too. This is untreated twine so it biodegrades and can be added to compost with no problems. It's a gift any gardener would welcome I think. A. M. Leonard has spools of all sizes.

9. Shop Cultivate

Cultivate at Laurens Garden Center

This botanically inspired gift shop is part of Lauren's Garden Service -- the native plant nursery and landscape design company now nestled in Ellicott City. Cultivate is open every day of the week and you can also shop for some items on-line. Just check out the artwork on this bee inspired cheese plate!

10. Seeds Collected by Hand

If you are a gardener yourself, you will know that a gift of seeds, purchased or collected by hand, or a rooted cutting from another gardener is one of the most special gifts a gardener can receive.

One More: Put Your DIY Skills to Work!

potting bench made from upcycled wood pallets

I received this potting bench made from upcycled pallets from my dear friend and gardener Robert. How lucky am I?! I share this to inspire you DIYers.

The possibilities are many!


We want you to be as excited about planting Chesapeake natives as we are. “Plant This or That” gives you a native alternative to popular plants. Other posts highlight really fabulous fauna native to the Chesapeake.

Nuts for Natives, avid gardener, Baltimore City admirer, Chesapeake Bay Watershed restoration enthusiast, and public service fan.

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