Photo-Illustration: The Strategist; Photo: Retailer
Any gardener or horticulturalist will tell you that tending a garden can quickly grow from a hobby into a lifelong passion. That means the gardener in your life likely owns a lot of the tools they need. So what do you get the person who stockpiles stacks of planters and has already perfected their fertilizer blend? Below, we’ve rounded up 53 ideas that will enrich their oasis, most of which we have written about before. From a practical telescoping rake to a heritage watering can to our favorite smart, self-watering garden that takes the guesswork out of growing herbs indoors, this list includes perennial favorites of the Strategist gardening caucus. There’s something for pretty much everyone — whether they’re the proud keeper of an English-style cottage garden or an apartment gardener leveling up their plant-tending skills.
If your gardener doesn’t have a pair of pruners, the F2 model from Swiss company Felco — our best-in-class pruner — would make a fantastic gift. The pruners are the industry standard: According to Kurt Morrell, the VP of landscape operations at the New York Botanical Garden, “A good gardener or horticulturalist anywhere in the world is most likely going to have a pair of Felcos.”
If your gardener is left-handed, this pair of Felco shears is made for a comfortable grip and comes recommended by one of the Strategist’s resident lefties, former writer Leah Muncy.
For pruning and snipping that require a finer touch, these chef-recommended scissors are also great for gardening, according to Strategist writer Emma Wartzman. “Their shape and size gives you a lot of control,” she says, for everything from tomatoes to “smaller herbs like oregano or thyme, when you want to snip a few stems without hacking at the whole plant.”
I’m a huge fan of these small, supersharp Japanese iron herb shears, which have a fine point that’s especially useful for snipping herbs from my smart garden.
For the novice gardener who’s ready to transition from cultivating indoors to outside, Strategist contributor Joseph Truini, a gardener of four decades, recommends this tool set. He says the measured transplanting trowel is “especially important when planting bulbs.”
We wrote about the rise of the artisanal broom a few years ago. (“People tend to ask, ‘Are your brooms sculptures or tools?’” broom-maker Erin Rouse told us. “A nice broom is right at the intersection.”) These double brooms are made to order (and can be customized!), so plan a few weeks ahead.
Photo: Courtesy of vendor
A smaller broom is useful for apartment gardeners who find themselves frequently dusting stray soil off plant stands and windowsills. Buddhist monk and author Shoukei Matsumoto recommends this natural-fiber brush and dustpan “to clean up any little mess.”
For a more utilitarian option, Truini swears by this versatile garden rake. The lightweight aluminum-alloy rake features a telescopic handle and an adjustable head that goes from 7½ inches to 21¾ inches wide — good for squeezing into narrow spaces between rows of plants.
Dan Colen, artist and founder of Sky High Farm, a sustainable farm in the Hudson Valley, swears by this red steel hoe from Johnny’s Selected Seeds. “The blade is sharp; the grip is comfortable,” he says. “This one, when you’re holding it, is ergonomic — it allows you to use your knees and your back. Without it, I’d be down on my knees pulling things out of the ground or throwing my back out, which I do all the time regardless.”
“Australians make the best summer hats,” writes Strategist writer Kat Gillespie. This hat from Alpha60, a brand “beloved by stylish Melburnians,” offers great sun protection and comes in several colors and patterns including a cheerful red tartan.
Multiple Strategist staffers own and love this affordable and functional sun hat. Its wide brim will protect their face from the sun, and it has an adjustable cord that makes it easy to wear around the neck. And it’s not too precious to get dirty: Strategist senior editor Simone Kitchens says it’s the kind of hat you can “sweat in and fold up and wash easily.”
A T-shirt to declare a love of native biodiversity and enmity toward monoculture lawns, recommended by Strategist senior editor Jen Trolio.
Overalls are a gardener’s uniform for a reason: They’re durable, comfortable, and have plenty of compartments to store tools. Katie Parks, who documents her Northern California gardening on her Instagram, Freckles and Sprouts, is a fan of these Duluth overalls: “They have loads of pockets on the legs, on the front, a pocket for knee pads to be inserted into, and even a small harvest pocket that is detachable,” she says. “Some of the pockets have a small opening at the bottom of the pocket so dirt can sift out.”
We’re also a fan of Patagonia’s sturdy canvas duck overalls, which come in a wide range of sizes and inseams.
Marc Hachadourian, the New York Botanical Garden’s director of glasshouse horticulture and senior curator of orchids, told us most gardening gloves are too thick and can cause him to “lose the sense of touch that lets me feel the difference between a weed and a real plant.” These nitrile gloves are an exception: They’re thick enough to protect him but thin enough that he can feel the plants he’s working with (and not end up mistaking them for weeds). Plus they’re colorful, so “when you take them off and put them down, you don’t lose them in the garden,” he says.
The breathable and durable Muckster II topped our ranking of garden boots with high marks from ecologist and botanist Becky Searle for being “light, flexible and very comfortable.” “These are my go-to shoes whether I’m in my garden, walking my dog, or doing the school run,” she says.
This citronella-based insect repellent is highly effective and smells so good senior editor Crystal Martin uses it in “copious amounts,” while contributor Aleta Burchyski’s husband occasionally wears it as cologne. It comes in handy during the summer months to keep mosquitoes at bay.
If a few bugs make it past the bug spray, this inexpensive plastic doodad, which uses suction to extract saliva or venom from bug bites, won over Strategist writer Lauren Ro, who has used it to treat “dozens of bites.”
If they tend a garden, chances are they have a favorite spot to sit and admire it. This powder-coated-steel bistro set is cute and durable and folds up with a small enough footprint for city gardens.
Or if their taste is more retro, gift them a classic, made-in-America aluminum-framed lawn chair in colorways exclusive to the MoMA Design Store.
For their garden picnics, gift them a waterproof gingham blanket that New York deputy editor Alexis Swerdloff confirms looks more expensive than it is.
If your horticulturalist wants birds to visit their garden, birder Juita Martinez recommends installing an open-platform feeder like this one because it can accommodate birds of any size.
This raised-bed planter makes a great gift for the gardener-in-training who can’t wait for their own plot at the community space. Suitable for indoor use (or out, if they have a balcony or roof), it’s self-watering, which means their victory garden will be fine even if they forget about it for a few days.
Photo: Vego Garden
Vego Garden’s raised beds are enthusiastically recommended by Kate Anello, backyard gardener and sister of former Strategist writer Chloe Anello. She appreciates that the beds are easy to assemble and modular “so you can create your own shapes to fit your space” — plus, the delivery box is compact enough to be wrapped as a gift.
This fun peace-sign vase can hold their fresh-cut stems — and looks just as good unfilled. It’s made by Jungalow founder and designer Justina Blakeney and is available in 12 matte and shiny colors including bronze, mint, and clay.
This modular piece from designers Chen Chen and Kai Williams tops our list of status planters and was hard to find in stock late in gifting season last year. It has a smooth porcelain finish and — important for gardeners who may doubt the functionality of designy planters — integrates a drainage saucer into its design. “That imperceptible drainage tray gets me every time,” says Sight Unseen co-founder Jill Singer. “It’s basically a sexy workhorse planter.” The planters are also a favorite of Strategist senior editor Winnie Yang, who says they’re “really well made and just have a pleasing shape.”
No matter how many pots they own, they can always use another one for propagations or impulse plant purchases. (And if you’re gifting them a plant, it’s helpful to include a pot.) This blue-gray ceramic beauty from the Brooklyn nursery Natty Garden comes in a range of sizes, from 5.5 inches to 12 inches in diameter, and includes a saucer to catch drainage.
There are many copycats of the Modernica Case Study planter out there, but real heads say the original is best for its craftsmanship and aesthetic. Darryl Cheng — the Canadian “plantfluencer” behind House Plant Journal — counts it among the insider goods he and other plant-content creators endorse.
If they have plants that need a little support standing up, Trolio likes these curvy brass sticks from Rejuvenation. They’re between seven and 11 inches tall, so they work best for plants on the smaller side.
Every gardener needs a vessel to tote their flowers and produce. Sussex Trugs, a company we first heard about from British interior designer Rita Konig, is the best in the business: It invented the modern trug in the 1820s, adapting it from the Anglo-Saxon trog, a multiuse carved wooden vessel. [Editor’s note: The price is an estimated conversion of pounds to U.S. dollars.]
For the design-stan gardener, consider a vase from Hawkins New York. Strategist contributor Chloe Malle calls them “delicate but not girly” and “perfect for a sculptural sprig or stalk.”
The copper watering can from British brand Haws, which has manufactured watering cans since 1886, has a cult following among serious horticulturists (including Martha Stewart). It has a gleaming finish, an architectural silhouette, and a nozzle that puts forth an even flow of water to “simulate a very gentle rain,” according to Cheng.
If the price of the full-size Haws is prohibitive, this version in forest-green powder-coated metal is just as stunning and effective at getting water to their plants.
Yang has been using these terra-cotta watering tools since 2014 for her indoor plants with a recycled glass bottle of water positioned upside-down on top of the spike. “They release just the right amount of water into the surrounding soil — when your soil gets drier, more water passes through the terra-cotta,” she says.
Or you can upgrade their watering system with this aesthetically pleasing hose recommended by Lauri Kranz, founder of garden-planning and organic-food-delivery service Edible Gardens LA. Kranz appreciates that the hose is free of BPA, lead, and phthalates.
An inexpensive gift that will change their life, recommended by Truini. “Simply plunge the two steel probes into the ground and the easy-read meter will indicate if it’s time to water, whether the plant is getting enough sun, and if the soil is acidic or alkaline,” he says.
Strategist contributor Ruth Baron gives Bamboozle’s compost bin high marks for both aesthetics and functionality: It’s used by other “hot, environmentally conscious New Yorkers,” and despite its lightweight footprint, Baron reports it’s sturdier than it looks.
If they tend a vegetable garden, consider giving the gift of fermentation. Michael Perrine, founder of rejuvenation and detox clinic Vitality NYC, likes this kit, which has everything you need to pickle cucumbers or make kimchi.
Our best-in-class outdoor compost tumbler, this durable, “surprisingly weather-resistant” tumbler will help them convert their kitchen scraps and yard waste into nutrient-rich fertilizer.
If the gardener in your life wants to start composting but doesn’t know where to begin, Grow Your Soil author Diane Miessler recommends this vermicompost system. (Vermicomposting is the term for using a population of worms to break down plant matter.) The finished product of “rich compost writhing with red worms brings joy to most gardeners,” she says.
If they’re interested in trying a new composting method, consider this Bokashi system, which uses a microorganism-saturated oat bran to partially ferment food scraps, which then get buried in the garden as a soil enricher. According to Rebecca Louie, the founder of the Compostess, a benefit of a Bokashi composter is that it can handle “the crazy Frankenstein stuff in the back of your fridge — like condiments or oily things — that wouldn’t go in a normal compost system.”
For beginner gardeners who are eager to start growing something before spring (or want to test out the hobby before committing to anything high maintenance), consider this affordable Desert Rose Bonsai grow kit that Strategist contributor Daniel Moldin says is pretty much killproof. It comes with everything you need to sprout the tiny tree, and all you have to do is remember to keep its vessel’s reservoir filled with water; a wick that leads from the roots of the plant takes care of the rest.
Herbs are notoriously hard to keep alive indoors. Save your urban gardener the hassle with our best-in-class smart garden — it’s self-watering and has a built-in grow light, which is especially handy in a kitchen that may not get consistent sun.
Actress Isabella Rossellini, the founder of Mama Farm, an artisanal farm in Brookhaven, New York, loves Johnny’s Selected Seeds. “They have a catalogue that has exclusively organic products — it’s well illustrated and has easy and clear explanations for how to plant the seeds and what conditions they need,” she told us. “Most importantly, their deliveries are reliable. This is essential because planting has to be done during specific months of the year.”
Or gift them a Meyer lemon tree, one of our favorite fruiting trees to grow indoors — Daryl Beyers, a gardening instructor at the New York Botanical Garden, calls it a “classic” choice.
If you don’t know what your gardener wants to grow next, consider a gift certificate to Park Seed. The company is one of the country’s oldest and largest mail-order seed operations and was recommended to us by recently retired gardeners. A great gift for anyone with some time to pursue a new project.
This expert-recommended fertilizer, derived in part from seaweed, is a good all-purpose formulation for common leafy houseplants and is water-soluble so can be used for hydroponic growing. It’s also a favorite of carnivorous-plant growers, who dilute it to a weaker solution than is listed on the container.
A gift membership to their local botanical garden — for example, in the New York metro area, the Brooklyn Botanic Garden — makes it easy for gardeners to seek respite in nature and get ideas for their own plantings. The BBG membership is also “well worth it for skipping the line,” according to PowerHouse Books founder Daniel Power.
Gift them the book sometimes referred to as the “Bible of fermentation.” “The Art of Fermentation contains a lot of general knowledge of all the different fermented products of the world in a very relaxed manner and helps you understand how you might be able to start making all of your fermented projects,” says chef Dave Park, who recommends the book for beginners.
A bird field guide is a great gift for gardeners and birders alike. “They’re available for countless locations around the world, from the obvious to the extremely esoteric,” says Andrew Farnsworth, a research associate at the Cornell Lab of Ornithology. He has “a soft spot for” this Peterson guide, which has detailed illustrations of hundreds of bird species.
Isabella Tree’s memoir of “rewilding” a 3,500-acre West Sussex farm makes a great gift for a gardener who enjoys watching the ecosystem in their backyard.
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