I’m not the diamonds and jewels type, and some of my favorite gifts of all time have been garden tools. Many years ago, at my request, my husband gave me an ice scraper for Christmas. Not a small one you use to scrape the ice off the car, but a full-sized one that is just perfect for prying big chunks of frozen goop off the driveway. Clearing the gunk off the driveway is a very satisfying and stress-reducing activity, and I recommend it to anyone feeling a bit claustrophobic from the holidays.
More recently, he gave me a beautiful pair of English tools, a square shovel and a spading fork. They make moving dirt or compost a joy. This year, I received an ergonomic trowel. It feels light in the hand, and the curved handle is supposed to reduce wrist injuries. Since I spend so much time on the computer and have seen many people with repetitive motion injuries, I’m careful about my wrists. I can hardly wait to start using the new trowel.
I also received two great garden books for Christmas: Melinda Myers’ Month by Month Gardening in Minnesota and a book on container gardening. Melinda Myers is based in Milwaukee and has written several gardening books for the Midwest. This one gives you month-by-month lists of what to do when in the garden. I’m sure I’ll be using it all year. Like many gardeners, I keep thinking of new ways to use containers. (My plans for next summer include an herb garden in containers on my deck.) My sister-in-law, who gardens in zone 6 in Indiana, gave me Stephanie Donaldson’s Practical Container Gardening. The book gives step-by-step instructions for 150 container combinations. It has a section on techniques for container plantings that I’ll be studying carefully.