Talk to any gardener, and chances are you’ll find their hobby has morphed into a passion. And, they probably already have a library full of garden books and a shed full of tools. As a result, deciding what to give your favorite garden geek for the holidays can pose a real challenge. To help you find the perfect gift., we took a survey of the elves around the Home and Garden Education Center and came up with a number of gift suggestions we think any gardener would love to have. So, without further ado, here are our selections for the best gifts for the gardener in your life – even if that gardener is you!

Dawn Pettinelli, Associate Cooperative Extension Educator, heads the UConn Soil Nutrient Analysis Lab and oversees the UConn Home & Garden Education Center and thought these would make great gifts.

Dawn Pettinelli

A soil test kit. After all, healthy soil makes for a healthy plant, and UCONN can do the test! Call (860) 486-4274 to find out how to get one.  

Soil test collection kit. Photo by Patrick McIntosh

A new pair of gardening gloves (or two, or four).  Because you can never have enough.

Gardening gloves. Image from

Dawn’s favorite suggestion is an assassin shovel. She says it’s great for digging and separating perennials. 

Assassin shovels from

Dr. Nick Goltz, Assistant Cooperative Extension Educator and Plant Pathologist heads our Plant Diagnostic Lab. In addition, he teaches pathology to our Master Gardener interns. Here are a few of his favorite gift ideas:

Dr. Nick Goltz

 A good ceramic or cement planter; terracotta is also very nice to have.  What gardener wouldn’t love a nice planter for their favorite plants?

Terra cotta pot from

A compost bin OR materials to make your own compost area. That could be a very nice gift for any budget.

Compost bins. Photo courtesy of

Last but certainly not least, (and a personal favorite of mine), a mushroom growing kit. Imagine having an endless supply of mushrooms? The kit could be purchased, or it could be a great DIY gift. A gift that keeps on giving. How fun is that?

Pamm Cooper, who splits her time with the Home & Garden Education Center with teaching entomology and turf to UConn Master Gardener interns, suggests a few must-haves for any gardener:

Pamm Cooper, UConn Home & Garden Education Center

Pamm swears by her Hori Hori knife. It is used for weeding, seeding, transferring bulbs, digging the perfect hole and cutting branches.

Hori Hori knife from

Pamm also loves a pair of pocket snips. These are perfect for dead-heading and pruning perennials.

Pocket snips from

And last, Pamm recommends a straight edged blade for edging garden beds, weeding, digging and planting. A must have for her tool bag.

Straight edge shovel from

Me? My ultimate gift- and dream car- is a Kubota BX 1880 subtractor with bucket loader, (Please Santa, I’ve been a very good girl.)

Marie Woodward, UConn Home & Garden Education Center
Marie’s dream car! From

But short of that (and a lot less expensive), I like the Paper pot maker. An environmentally friendly way to make starter pots, no plastic!

Paper pot maker. From

But my favorite gift for any gardener? Why not a tree? More specifically, a flowering tree! What a wonderful way to give a gift that the gardener will enjoy year after year? Get a gift certificate now, and plant in the spring.

Easter redbud from

Lastly, when you just can’t think of the perfect gift for the gardener in your life? A gift certificate to their favorite garden center never fails.  Any of the above gifts (except the Kubota) can be purchased at your local nursery or online. I think the Kubota requires a visit to a dealer. Still, it may fit in Santa’s sleigh – forever the optimist!

That rounds out the gift list for this year. All of us at the UConn Home and Garden Education Center want to wish you and yours the happiest of holidays with peace, love, and pest-free and productive gardens throughout the new year.

Happy Holidays!

Marie Woodward