Garden gloves

Are you buying a gift for a gardener this holiday season or putting together your own holiday wish list? An informal survey of Penn State Master Gardeners revealed items both large and small that gardeners would love to receive.

Garden gloves

This was the item mentioned most, since well-used gloves do wear out. Most gardeners cited very specific parameters for the gloves that they use, such as gloves made of bamboo — a breathable, snug-fitting fabric — and long suede gloves to protect from thorns. Since gardeners have specific requirements for the type of gloves that they prefer, it would be best to ask for a brand name or check the worn-out gloves in the shed before choosing this gift.

Garden gear

Gardeners requested waterproof shoes, and hats and clothing to block UV light, in addition to new garden gloves. (Sun block might be a nice accompaniment to this gift.)

Garden knife

A garden knife was also on many gardeners’ wish lists. This tool looks something like a long, compact trowel with a point and is also called a soil knife or hori hori tool. The garden knife has many uses:

— The point readily digs into many types of soil for deep removal of the whole weed or plant when transplanting.

— Serrated sides cut through roots, stems, string and cord.

– Measurement markings on the blade aid in bulb planting.

– It readily cuts through the heavy plastic bags used for large bales of soil, etc.

– It’s a great tool for dividing perennials.

Pruning shears

Many gardeners would welcome a new pair of pruning shears. Like garden gloves, choices of pruning shears can be rather personal. Pruners can be right and left-handed, and a ratchet pruner is a good bet for someone with limited hand strength. You will find bypass pruners, where the two blades are side by side, and anvil pruners, where the two blades meet. A bypass pruner is a better all-purpose choice, since it makes a clean cut and does not crush living plant tissue as an anvil pruner might.

And more tools

In addition to tools already described, Master Gardeners mentioned large pieces of equipment, such as a compost tumbler, spear-head spade, and a mattock (small pick-ax). Smaller, less expensive items, such as tomato cages, plant markers and pens, a rain gauge, and a dibber (or dibble) for planting seeds were also on the gift list.

Other ideas

More whimsical gift ideas include garden lights, decorative obelisks, a small watering can for indoor plants, herb scissors, seed ornaments for birds, and a new houseplant.

Master Gardener manual

Consider the gift of garden knowledge. The Penn State Master Gardener Manual for beginning and advanced gardeners contains nearly 600 photos and an extensive index. For order information visit

Lois Miklas is the coordinator of the Penn State Master Gardener Program in Lancaster County.

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