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Quality gifts for gardeners

If gloves never wore out, it would be different, but because they do, they're always at the top of my Christmas wish list. I receive gloves every year and buy them myself in the summer, but by year's end after grubbing in soil and schlepping rocks out of planting holes, rare is the finger without a hole.

Besides, I always keep a couple of clean pairs on hand for those very special days when a family member visits and tentatively offers to help. A nice pair of soft leather gloves, hard to resist, eases the hesitation.

With an incredible range of materials and designs, there's a glove that fits every hand and suits every purpose. All of them make excellent gifts for gardeners.

Rose-pruning gloves may seem over-the-top for anyone with just a few roses, but they protect the forearm, essential for preventing bloody scratches and snagged sleeves.

Waterproof materials are essential for working in damp soil; knit panels that breathe are best in hot weather; and leather — heavy-duty and light-weight — are good year round.

Quality tools

To non-gardeners, tools may sound like the suggestion of work, but to a gardener a special tool makes light of work and is something to treasure for years if not for a lifetime.

Such is the case with a high-quality, four-tined, steel English spading fork or a short-handled steel transplanting spade. They're durable and lighter weight than standard long-handled implements and a pleasure to use.

Carbon steel hand tools with hardwood handles — trowels and weeders — also make excellent gifts. Expect them to be somewhat pricey; most inexpensive aluminum tools eventually bend or break and must be replaced.

Two of my favorites, the ones I reach for most often, are the Soil Scoop crafted out of stainless steel with a serrated edge, perfect for digging shallow holes for planting in loose garden soil; and red-handled Felco pruners that cut with precision and show themselves clearly when misplaced.

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