Going Back

Softest Pink Photo by Sherri Woodbridge
Softest Pink
Photo by Sherri Woodbridge

One of my favorite places is the rose garden at the company of Harry and David. They used to own Jackson and Perkins until they sold it several years ago. Jackson and Perkins specialized in roses. Harry and David’s rose garden was the ‘test’ garden. Every color, species, and size of rose you can imagine, hang out at Harry and David’s garden.

I’ve made several trips to the garden this year, while living in Oregon. I’ve taken guests there – my granddaughter, my neighbor and more. Most of them have had a similar reaction to mine… breathless. Speechless. In awe.

The colors are magnificent and stunning, surprising in some instances as the flower buds in a deep red, color open up to orange and fades to a yellow. Some have one large stem that dons eight or more blooms – a bouquet in itself.

When I go alone I take my time and enjoy every step. I could spend the day there. There are asters, lilies, peonies and butterfly bushes. Ornamental grasses, fruit trees, lavender and well – I could go on and on – it’s there. The saddest thing to me is that, usually, no one else is ever there. It’s always void of someone to walk it’s path, linger over the fragrances as my little granddaughter loved to do.

In each row, with each step, I find a reason to praise God. With each water drop that twinkles in the sun’s rays, I find a reason to smile. With each honeybee that buzzes from one petal to the next, I almost laugh. I find I can disconnect from the despair I sometimes feel. The tough moments. The trying times. The mundane. I can walk on the thick, lush grass and find one more bloom, one more color, one more surprise to be thankful for.

Eventually it’s time to go home. I have filled up the camera card with pictures of bees, blooms and bunnies. I download the photos onto my computer and relive those moments again. I see God in every picture. I see His beauty, His creativity, His peace, His provision. I see how He cares for me.

I hadn’t been to the rose garden for a while and as I walked the paths today, God refreshed my spirit. Sometimes we get caught up in the day to day despair of life. In the tough stuff that we must deal with. In the tedious, the mundane, monotonous day to day of life. We wonder if there’s anything greater than washing dishes, folding clothes, or taking the garbage out.

And then, we spontaneously take a trip back to a place where once we were met by God and find Him there once again. And once again, so faithful as in the times before, He strengthens and refreshes our spirit. Sometimes going back is a good thing. Sometimes it’s the only way to go forward.

I encourage you today, if you’re tired, weary, worn out and feel defeated, think of that place where you have met God and been renewed. If at all possible – go there and bask in the love and grace of His presence. If it’s not possible to go there, find a quiet place where you can close your eyes and remember the time (or times) you did, dwell on it and He will come to you, right where you are.

Let Him fill you up.

He will.

Count on it.

Weeding the Garden

"Bronze Susan"   Photo by Sherri Woodbridge
“Bronze Susan”
Photo by Sherri Woodbridge

Many of you know that my passion is gardening. There is a saying, “You are nearer to God’s heart in a garden than anywhere else on earth.” I suppose that if you were a carpenter, you might say that you are nearer to God’s heart in the sawmills. However, since that is not the case with me, my heart tends to be nearer to God’s heart when I am outside.

I have often wondered if what draws me is the display of endless and bountiful colors that He adorns the earth with or if it is the fresh air and the release of tension that comes when tending the soil. Whatever it is, it does my heart good.

Recently, I spent a long day out in my yard digging weeds from my lawn. For most people, I have heard that this is tedious work. For others, they prefer to sprinkle it with commercial weed killer and hope that it gets the most of it. For me, I am not content unless I get my gloves on and have my weeding tool in hand and dig the pesky things out, knowing that I have gotten as much as the root as possible. For some they call this obsessive compulsive. For others, being a perfectionist. For me, I’m just doing it the way I was taught. Regardless, it’s great therapy.

During my therapy session with God the other day, He began to show me more deeply, the impact that sin can have on our lives.

I was taught in a biology class that I once took, that a weed is something that grows where you don’t want it. So, on that day of therapy, I took to removing the weeds in my lawn—things that were growing where they didn’t belong, in places where I didn’t want them. I think sin is like weeds. It grows where it doesn’t belong, in children who belong to God and have been bought with the blood of Christ. If we know that it has no place in our lives, then whey do we allow it?

I spent a lot of time that day pulling out clover. I let it go too far. When it first began to grow, I remember thinking, I like the little flowers. I knew it wasn’t grass, I knew it didn’t belong, but for the time, I enjoyed it. Now, I was paying the price. What once seemed so appealing was now literally choking the life out of what I wanted to grow and so much so, that what was supposed to be growing in those places where clover had taken over, had now completely disappeared.

After much pulling and cutting into my fingers, the roots came out slowly, often leaving gaping holes in the lawn. Places that will now need careful tending to heal and grow back to the place where the obsessive compulsive gardener likes them. And, isn’t sin like that?

It can be so appealing and doesn’t appear that harmful and so we allow it to tease us to the point that we let just a little bit in our lives and before we know it, God is having to tend to us with the weeding tool of his gentle hand and work on the roots we have allowed to embed themselves deep into our heart.

Like… swearing. Like eating. Like the books we read or the music we listen to or the shows we watch. It all seems harmless but before we know it, we’re saying a few of the same words, eating a little too much, reading what would break the heart of God, humming tunes that don’t lift anyone or anything up and we’re watching things that Jesus has to leave the room for. And for those of us who are parents, what message are we sending to our kids or grandkids? Even dandelions are pretty for a moment, but we all know how, when left unattended, that pretty little flower goes to seed and then you have a big problem!

As I was pulling out all these weeds, I also realized how much pain there was involved. My hands grew stiff, my back hurt, and it was hot. It made me realize that God takes no joy in seeing His children suffer. And, sin causes suffering.

As my hands became cut and scratched from the weeding, it made me think of Christ, who shed His blood to remove our sin so that we could be restored back to the place our heavenly Father desires us to be.

We all have clover growing around us and we all allow a dandelion or two now and then into our lives. The trick is to get them out before they take hold, the root goes deep and the sin spreads. Is there something in your life, no matter how insignificant it may have seemed, that is keeping you from blooming the way God intended for your life? Is there something choking the life of Christ out of you?

Not too long ago I asked God to show me if there was anything that was not pleasing to Him. Years ago, I decided that if I wanted anything specific for my life, it was to know I lived a life that pleased God alone. When asking Him, there was not anything obvious that came to mind, but in the days to come, God clearly showed me two areas that did not please Him. To others, they may have seemed insignificant. After all, I wasn’t robbing banks or committing adultery, but to me, they were areas needing tending because they grieved His spirit. And to Him, they were, plain and simple – sin. I allowed Him to dig deep into my heart and take out what didn’t belong there. Even the smallest areas can be painful to remove. It is painful to know that you have broken the heart of God.

If you are struggling today, I am praying that you will allow the love of God to restore you to the place He desires you to be. If you think you have everything together, I encourage you to seek His heart. There may be some little area He can see that you are unable to see and it’s keeping you from complete fellowship with Him. It may be time to do some weeding.

Just Because You Plant the Seed

 I plant pumpkins each year and give some away and others are left to sit around as fall decorations.  This  year, I had a two year old in tow when my one and only pumpkin was ripe for picking and so she and her ‘Boppa’ went outside to snip the big orange ball from the vine and returned to the house to gut it.  It was an experience.

 

At first, my granddaughter wanted nothing to do with the flesh hanging from the insides of the pumpkin. Upon first sight, she quickly folded her arms together and backed away after I took the top off the pumpkin and she saw what was in there. She wanted nothing to do with it but when she realized it wasn’t all that yucky, she eagerly helped to clean out the inside.

 

After we finished, I looked through the pulp for seeds to save for next year and collected about two dozen.  I allowed them to dry and then put them in a plastic bag and sat them on the kitchen counter for the time being.  My son saw them sitting there and asked what I was going to do with them.

 

“I’m gonna plant them—all of them.”

 

“You can’t plant all of those,” he insisted.

 

“Yes—I can,” I replied, most certain.

 

“They won’t all grow.”

 

“Yes they will—every single one of them.  I’ll have 85 pumpkins.”

 

His final comment?

 

“Just because you plant the seed doesn’t mean it will grow.”

 

It was so matter-of-fact.  It irritated me.  And then I thought about it for a few days and you know—he’s right.

 

Not every seed I have planted has grown.  Some have stayed in the package past their prime planting dates and refused to emerge. That wasn’t their fault. I neglected them.  In fact, I have a packet of foxglove seeds that my mother in-law gave me that are from 1939.  There is no way I would plant those and expect them to grow.  There’s no way I’m getting rid of them, either.

 

We may plant seeds in others of God’s truth and wonder why it hasn’t grown.  We’ve shared God’s love, extended his mercy, been evidence of His amazing grace, explained the truth of His word, shown the need for repentance and… nothing.  Lots of seeds – but nothing grows.

 

One of the most important things you could ever do for a newly planted seed is water it regularly and make sure it is a nice, warm, safe place to sit and soak up the sun.  It’s that simple.  But sometimes, no matter how right the conditions are, not every seed will grow.  For whatever reason, it will never see daylight or if it does, it withers shortly thereafter.  It will never grow or produce fruit or bloom.

 

As a believer of Christ, our life can be so similar.  We attempt to plant seeds in the lives of others and sometimes they take root and grow.  But there is another side–they refuse to grow.  No roots form.  There is no evidence of life above the ground.  It’s the case of… “Just because you plant the seed, doesn’t mean it will grow.”

 

Ah yes.  Our job is to do the planting.  God knows what it takes to make those seeds grow – how much water, the best time to water, plenty of sunshine, and warmth.  We have been chosen to be the caretakers and gardeners of those planted seeds. To teach those in which seeds have been planted where they are to run and find shelter in the storms.  To teach them how to store up water in their roots for inevitable dry spells. To show them how to apply nutrients from God’s word, making their lives richer and fuller.  

 

I will plant all two dozen pumpkin seeds next year.  Some may not grow.  But I will do what I know I need to do in order for those that grow to produce the best fruit possible… water, allow for sunshine, and provide TLC.  I hope I do the same for those who have seeds lying dormant within their hearts.  Provide some water, lead them into the sunshine, and feed them from God’s word.  But there’s one truth I must remember that I have no control over…

I can plant the seed, but it doesn’t mean it will grow.  

 

Fig Leaf Gardening

 

If you’re anything like me, there’s something about gardening and pulling weeds, about pruning back and watering seedlings. It calms your spirit, draws you closer to your Maker, and soothes your soul. However, given information I just uncovered, I think I may have finally found something about gardening that I just can’t get into. Or maybe I should say, get out of.
Did you know that tomorrow has been named a world day of observance for gardening in the buffWorld Naked Gardening Day (WNGD) has come to be celebrated by some (and denounced by others) since 2005 by the help of Mark Storey.
It has become quite a thing at the Abbey House Gardens in Malmesbury, Great Britain where clothing is optionalPersonally, I can’t imagine doing such a thing. Just think of the situations you misn’t encounter: the briar patch, the poison oak patch, the rose thorns, the neighbors’ cat’s gift in your flower garden (one like  you stepped in yesterday,but then you were wearing your garden togs)…
Well, you can imagine for yourself. Not only does the unexpected visitor get to see unbecoming drops of sweat run down your face, but also they get to see your, well, you can insert whatever you like. And, for much gardening we do, we’re bending over. If you thought that was unattractive before…
Usually, (for me at least) you go into the house at the end of the day and realize you forgot the sunscreen again. Can you imagine forgetting the sunscreen tomorrow? Ouch.
So, now, I have alerted you of tomorrow’s significance. It’s up to you to decide what to do about it. My advice?
Don’t forget the sunscreen. Oh, and the hat. And I heard gloves are okay to wear on this special occasion. I would also suggest a fig leaf. Please…don’t forget the fig leaf.

The Seasons of Life

Sometimes I think it would be easier to approach life as our lives were made up of seasons and yet, it is, isn’t it? The seasons of life.

 

In nature,  we experience Fall. It is the season of harvest. The season when things begin to die back (or die completely). There is a chill in the air and the wind blows mightily as it whips though the trees. The skies seem darker, the days shorter. In the fall, we finish up our preparations for winter. Canning, wood chopping, gathering bales of hay and storing them in barns. We cut some things back, we cover some things up and we close some things down. We know it’s going to get worse before it gets better. And so it comes. Winter. 
It can be harsh. Deadly even, if the storm is weighty enough. The hail and the rains and the unending days of heavy snowfalls. Ice so slick that you slip and you slide and sometimes you fall. You don’t want to go outside. You want to hide in the comfort of your own home where you have built a nest of protection, warmth, and safety. After what can seem like forever, you awaken one morning to a glowing sunrise that states Spring has arrived. 
You pull back the curtains and open the windows to the crisp, fresh air that still has a bite to it. But, oh! The hope and joy of a new season has finally come. You daily watch for flowers to emerge from the soil where snow once lay and threatened to hold captive that which lay underneath, crying out to be set free. And as these – now just seedlings – begin to grow, the days grow warmer and longer. The air is quiet with gentle sprinklings of rain that you welcome with a smile. And then comes summer.

 The sun beats down warm and you are even convinced that as it warms your body, healing is taking place within.  Where spring brought new life, this is the season where you’re actually experiencing the growing, the full blooming of it all. Your energy has been renewed. You delight to let your toes touch the water of the vast ocean or lake that is spread before you. This is the season where you, without hesitation or thought of troubles, lift your hands in unabandoned praise to God. Life cannot be better.

But looking back, you can now see how each season had its purpose. And each season gave you the opportunity to prepare for the next. Experience has told us that in the course of nature there will undoubtedly be good with the bad, life will not all be sunshine and roses, and that the storms and the sunshine will come in different degrees, sometimes with nary a warning.

That is the course of nature. Of life itself.  Many flowers cannot bloom unless they endure a harsh frost from winter’s bitter cold. Many will not thrive without the water the storms of winter brought upon them. Many flowers  cannot grow unless they die first, scattering seeds in fall. Some must be pruned, cut back, in order for the healthy growth of spring. I’m sure if flowers could talk, roses would express their deep disapproval over being pruned. Over and over and over again. 

 Our spiritual lives are so much like the cycles of nature. We endure the longer days of summer and early fall, move into winter with reluctance (and often kick and scream while there), but spring always comes with the welcome reprieve of summer. Each has their purpose. Each has their pain. Each has their reward.

God prunes where at times we feel we have felt completely uprooted. We feel we’ve been closed up from the rest of the world, shut down from life and covered in muck. There is a deep darkness but little do we feel, and often we forget, that we are being prepared for something more. All the while, we are being called to come and lean into Him. To come into His shelter, experience His warmth, hide in His arms.
It is throught the Falls and the Winters in life that we are actually being strengthened and refined. When the time if right, He gently dries the tears of winter, lifts our chin and gently says, “Look and see.”
Green is now emerging where snow once lay smothering the ground underneath. New life. The sun is breaking though the clouds. We are stronger. Our hope has been restored. We are no longer resisting that which comes, but are walking hand in hand with the Master Gardener, cultivating new life. We’re pulling weeds of sin, making room for new roots to go deeper and deeper into HIm. We no longer feel the need to run to a better climate to escape the torrents of winter, but look ahead with anticipation at what God is going to bring forth. Summer is coming. The harvest will be plentiful. We have learned that Springs and Summers are only made possible by going through Falls and Winters. 

  Instead of longing for a better climate, a place where winters are mild and summer days are plentiful, why not embrace the call of God to come and rest in Him during the hard times and sit with Him on the patio on the warm, healing days of Summer. Either season is an opportunity of lfting our hands in praise and thankfulness to God for what He has brought us through and where He is taking us now

There is a time for everything, and a season for every activity under heaven: a time to be born and a time to die, a time to plant and a time to uproot, a time to kill and a time to heal, a time to tear down and a time to build, a time to weep and a time to laugh, a time to mourn and a time to dance, a time to scatter stones and a time to gather them, a time to embrace and a time to refrain, a time to search and a time to give up, a time to keep and a time to throw away, a time to tear and a time to mend, a time to be silent and a time to speak, a time to love and a time to hate, a time for war and a time for peace. What does the worker gain from his toil? I have seen the burden God has laid on men. 

He has made everything beautiful in its time. He has also set eternity in the hearts of men; yet they cannot fathom what God has done from beginning to end. I know that there is nothing better for men than to be happy and do good while they live. That everyone may eat and drink, and find satisfaction in all his toil–this is the gift of God. Ecclesiastes 3:1-13
sherri

How Do You Say P-E-O-N-Y ?

Jon and Ginnie Deason, owners of Deason Peonies

Situated in the quaint little town of Ashland, in Southern Oregon, sits a little farm where Jon and Ginnie Deason grow (what some believe to be) the most beautiful flowers in the world – peonies.

Known to thrive for over 50 plus years, peonies are “the fattest and most scrumptious of all flowers, a rare fusion of fluff and majesty…” said Henry Mitchell, an American writer (1923-93) and truly, he knew what he was talking about.

Having been labeled as ‘outrageously beautiful’, ‘sumptuous’, ‘breath-taking’, ‘striking’, and ‘impressive’, peonies are a gardener’s favorite. Easy to grow but “requiring a lot of patience” (according to grower Ginnie Deason), the peony is one flower every garden should not be without.

Ginnie grew up in the midwest, where her family grew peonies – one of their favorite flowers – so deciding to grow peonies on two of their twelve acres in the outskirts of Ashland seemed like a natural fit. They now sell plants and tubers at local farmer’s markets and on the internet.

“Blaze”

Ginnie’s “favorite” peony changes from year to year, one of this year’s favorites being “Blaze“, a ‘reliable performer with bright red blooms, with flowers that are perfect for cutting.’ 

As I stand at the Deason’s stand at the local Farmer’s Market in Medford, I am once again taken aback at just how beautiful these flowers really are. No matter if they are fluffy like a fat, down pillow or donning only six petals, the beauty of each one leaves you speechless.

Jon and Ginnie sell fresh tubers, as Ginnie says they are the best way to go for growing a strong, healthy plant.

“Buying them in the stores, they have usually been frozen at least a year, if not more” Ginnie says, making their quality inferior to those found at a peony farm like the Deason’s. When you compare one of the Deason’s peony tubers to that of one purchased at a local retail store, well… there is no comparison (speaking from personal experience). Once you have seen a fresh, plump, healthy tuber and hold it up alongside one that has been frozen, the quality cannot be matched. And – if you want quality flowers, you’ve got to start with a quality root/tuberous system.

Peonies that arrive as a tuber will usually take 2-3 years to bloom, where if you were to buy a peony already established in a pot and ready to take home to plant, you’ve gained 1-2 years of having to wait for that first beautiful bloom.

Blooms for Sale

There are three types of peonies and the Deason’s sell approximately 25 varieties a year, some from each category-

  • Tree peonies: The foliage on the tree peony stays green year round and begins to get new growth in spring, having taken a rest in the fall and on through winter. Tree peonies take a tad bit more care in that the spring frost can bite the buds, thereby reducing its glorious blooms.
  • Herbaceous peonies: soft-stemmed, the herbaceous peony‘s foliage dies down in the fall and re-emerges in springtime.
  • ITOH Peonies have advantages over the other peonies in that: the stems are stronger and can hold its flower upright. At maturity, they are known for having up to 50 blooms on one plant. Although the ITOH peonies have foliage and blooms like a tree peony, the must be cut back in the fall.
 
 
Peonies come in types known as singles, doubles, and semi-doubles, many beautiful colors, and those that bloom early in the season, mid-season, and later in the season. Some growers also have what are known as “Bomb” Doubles and Japanese and Anemone peonies.

Often confused with the planting techniques of a bulb, tubers differ in that they should not be buried too deep. One to two inches is the suggested depth. Ginnie says that if the tuber is buried to deep, the plant will be weak and not produce blooms and if buried too shallow, buds will not form. Potted peonies are planted right away or left to potted, ready to plant in the fall.

Rather easy to care for, peonies offer a elegant show of beauty each spring, plants growing in size and blooms growing in number as the years go by.

Bouquet of Mixed Colors

As I stand and watch the Deasons sell single to armfuls of blooms and pots of healthy plants, they do it with joy and smiling faces. Selling a peony must feel like you’re decorating the world with heavenly beauty.

“I hope some day to meet God, because I want to thank Him for the flowers.”  ~Robert Brault

You can learn more about the Deason’s Peonies by going to their website here or by emailing Ginnie for more information. 

My favorite? Coral Charm. But like Ginnie, my favorites change – to whatever I happen to be looking at at that moment.

“Coral Charm”

 

 

Great Gift Ideas for Your Favorite Gardener

If you’re heading out to scout for a gift for your favorite gardener, check out the list below for a few practical and just for fun ideas that will bring a smile and hopefully, a bouquet of joy!


GIFTS THAT ARE FUN…


*Gardens books: With the snow on the ground, it’s rather difficult to work in the flower beds. Gardeners love to sift through garden catalogs, coffee table flower books and read up on their favorite species. You can never go wrong with Sunset’s Western Garden Books. For a book with beautiful floral photographs throughout that will encapture anyone’s attention for hours (trust me on this!), check out “Flowers” by H. Wako, considered to be a feast for any gardener’s eyes.


*Floral Calendar: Smith and Hawken (a great gardening resource for great stuff!) has put out a beautiful calendar for 2008. You can get it on Amazon with one day shipping. They also offer the Audubon Wildflowers Calendar 2008 by National Audubon Society, both starting at around $9.


*Bird Bath/Feeder/House: Most gardeners enjoy sharing their space with the critters who live nearby. Help welcome them with ornaments for the yard. Feeders come in simple to extravagant and prices follow and the same applies for all yard ornaments. A good companion for any bird accessory would be Stokes Bird Gardening.


*Living Gift Basket: Giving a potted plant is great but a true gardener is a do-it-yourselfer. Why not give a do-it-yourself gift basket? A metal-lined potting basket with a bag of soil and an assortment of seeds would be a sure pleaser. Some seed suggestions: lobelia, snapdragons, pansies, petunias, and verbena. $30


*Watering Can: Every gardener loves a watering can, especially a nice one. Any of your local stores will carry some great selections starting at $15.


*Gift Card: What gardener wouldn’t want to browse the aisles himself? Not much can be had for under $15, so consider that when making your purchase.


*Seeds/Bulbs: Do you know what kind of flowers they prefer? Grab some seeds and/or bulbs for a fun treat they can enjoy all year, from planting to pruning. $2-10+


*Garden Sign: Have a personalized sign made for their yard/garden. “Welcome to my garden”, “Rosies Rose Garden” – you get the picture. How about some vegetable stakes? Those are always welcome at planting time as they remind the gardener that yes, something is in that row and will be sprouting up shortly. $3-12


*Hori Hori Knife: This is the expensive version of a hand shovel with a knife on one side and a saw on the other of the blade, with a weed extractor tool on the tip. A generic version, put out by Fiskars can be found at Lowe’s for about $15 and is useful with its 5-8 tools in one. My son loves his.


*Hand-held trowel, cultivator, shovel, weeder: Invaluable. Each one. A nice, new set would be a welcomed gift to any seasoned gardener. Separate: $5-12


*Gift Basket: Why not put together a basket for Christmas – try a tool caddy and fill it with your favorite gadgets from above or it you’re really bold, fill a wheelbarrow! Either way, you’re sure to bring good cheer to the recipient and it will be something that will be enjoyed season after season.


*Flower Press: Give a gift that gives forever! A flower press allows you to save your favorite blooms year after year. A mid-size one is plenty big and starts at about $15. A great resource to wrap with it would be Fragile Beauty: The Victorian Art of Pressed Flowers by Sandy Puckett and Michael Chan.


AND NOW, SOME VERY PRACTICAL GIFTS…


*Hand Pruners: These are probably the most used tool of any avid gardener and are used for trimming bushes and shrubs. A good pair runs about $18. However, if you want a great pair of pruners that will last almost forever, check out Felco pruners. They do run steep, but are well worth the investment for long-lasting blade wear.


*Garden Shears: A nice addition to any gardeners tool caddy. Good for smaller pruning jobs. About $10. Fiskars puts out a good pair.


*Shovel: No gardener should be without one. Or two. The pointed end is a must for digging and a flat head for picking up clutter. I prefer a snow shovel for picking up as it picks up a wider range of debris and makes most tasks easier but can get weighty. Longer handles to tend to make moving the dirt less exhausting. The cushioned ends also make gripping the handle easier and reduces splinters. Cost: Anywhere from $8-$30


*Spade: Much like a shovel, but smaller for tight spots and shorter, which makes it easier to handle. This is a tool that many gardeners who are on a tight budget will do without but secretly wish they had. $12-30


*Spading Fork: Envying one of these is much like the envy that runs with the spade. It’s coveted but only purchased if you can afford the luxury. In reality, many jobs are made much simpler with the use of this tool. Great for loosing soil, breaking dirt clods and reducing root damage to plants when digging them up. $18-45


*Loppers: Arms length cutting tool from thick stemmed bushes to tree branches. Look for loppers with blades that can be sharpened. These come with wooden or metal handles and run about $15-35.


*Rake: I’ve used both plastic and metal and prefer the metal, as they tend to do a better job, overall. The plastic leaf rakes are good for dry leaves, but if they’re wet at all, tend to bunch up a bit, making the user have to stop and pull the leaves off the tines. Slows down progress. Put out the few extra bucks and give ‘em a break. Buy the metal one. $12-$35


*Child’s rake: A useful took in the small and hard to reach areas of the garden. Very affordable for under $10


*Hedge shears: If your gardener has shrubs, they’ll appreciate a good pair of shears. You can find a reasonable pair for about $25


*Tank sprayer: Versatility! Used for pest control, fertilizing and weed control. Just make sure they’re washed out well in between different uses. These are priceless when it comes to the tasks aforementioned. You can find one for $15+


*Tool caddy: These are great for the gardener who is constantly on the move. Home Depot has their brand to fit over a 5 gallon bucket. Waist-apron styles are also available and bucket benches are popular for those needing a place to sit while they work. Prices vary according to the style preferred.


*Wheelbarrow: If your gardener’s yard has any space to it, they’ll probably appreciate this helpful tool. It eases the work of carting things all over. A good wheelbarrow can be found for around $40 and the size depends on the size of the yard, most likely.


*Gloves: No gardener should be without a good pair of gloves. They should fit snug so that if (when!) they get caught on a thorn or similar, they don’t get pulled off and the thorn doesn’t go through. For smaller, less hazardous jobs, the jersey knit gloves are nice as they fit snug and breathe easily. They range about $3 whereas the nice leather or suede type start at about $12.


For a great combination gift, pick your favorite fun and your favorite practical gift and put them together for a sure winner.