AS GARDENERS, WE’VE always known that our gardens are essential. Then 2020 proved it.

Last spring, many interpreted Stay Home, Stay Safe orders to mean, “Get gardening.” Let’s all give thanks for hardworking nursery staff who quickly adjusted to safety protocols while keeping shelves stocked with herbs and veggie starts as sales surged.

Just in time for brown paper packages tied up with string, here’s a list of my favorite garden gear for all the new (and seasoned) gardeners on your gift list.

● Every gardener should have a pair of sturdy boots that hold up to digging and keep feet warm, dry and comfortable. Easy-on, easy-off styles get bonus points for keeping indoor floors clean. Muck Boots were made for muddy spring planting.

● Get a grip on garden tasks and plants with lightweight Nitrile Touch® gloves. They’re durable, washable and very affordable. Plus, they come in a variety of colors. Wrap up a rainbow — don’t forget to include a nail brush and a good scrubby soap.

● Unless I’m pruning the crab apples, my go-to tool for deadheading perennials and harvesting vegetables and cut flowers is a compact pair of shears with a fine tip that allows me to make precision cuts neatly and quickly. Create a festive package topper by snipping a cook’s bouquet of garden sage and thyme for the cooks and eaters on your list.


● Attentive gardeners spend plenty of time at the end of a hose. Let’s hope that hose is a quality model with brass quick-connect fittings — life’s too short for intractable kinking and leaky connections. Pro tip: Outfit that hose with a one-touch, nine-pattern spray gun for complete control over water flow. More fun colors, too.

● While we’re on the topic of watering: Gardeners can never have too many watering cans. Carting two full cans is easier on the body than awkwardly lugging a single sloshing container. Whether you select a galvanized can that will last a generation or a brightly colored, lightweight plastic model, make sure it comes with a fine rose on the spout that provides a gentle sprinkle to protect seedlings.

● Beans — how very pandemic — were a hit in my garden this year. Specifically, specialty dry bean varieties from Uprising Seeds ( that I purchased at last year’s flower show. Unfortunately, the Northwest Flower & Garden Festival has been canceled for 2021, but on the Uprising Seeds website, you can browse their entire collection of open-pollinated, certified-organic seed produced by a network of regional small family farms. Hudson Valley Seed Co. packets are pretty enough to not need wrapping — a total win in a busy season — and are carried by many of our local nurseries. In addition to careful growing instructions for each of the heirloom and open-pollinated seed varieties, each packet features original illustrations commissioned by the company, along with background information on the seed’s history and the gardeners who have stewarded it over time.