Don't let the cold weather fool you. Gardeners are always gardening, even if only in their daydreams, and that makes holiday gift-giving easy.
Here's my list, and I'm checking it twice. Friends and family members? Take notice.
Gloves. Garden gloves are like socks: You are always missing one. They don't make for a lavish gift, but they will be much appreciated. While you are at it, give a couple of pairs. (westcountygardener.com or 800-475-0567)
Felco pruners or a soil knife. Again, nothing sexy here. But these are my favorite and most-used garden tools, and I lost both this summer. I bet I am not the only gardener who did (felcostore.com/pruners; amazon.com, search "hori hori," which is Japanese for "diggy, diggy").
Books. Gardeners learn most of what they know from other gardeners. That's the best reason to give a copy of "Did You Know? Wise Words & Advice for Gardeners and Floral Designers," compiled by the members and friends of the National Capital Area Garden Clubs. ($16.95. e-mail email@example.com, call 202-399-5958 or purchase at the Arbor House, the gift shop at the U.S. Arboretum.)
Worms, shrooms and spuds. Only another gardener would forgive you for the gift of a worm composter, a mushroom-growing kit or membership in a potato-of-the-month club. So don't try giving any of these to your mother-in-law. Unless, of course, she is a gardener. (compostbins.com/compost-bins/worm-composters or 866-579-5182; gardeners.com or 888-833-1412; woodprairie.com or 800-829-9765)
Garden bench. Gardeners do sit in the garden, although it is often hard to catch a gardener in the act. A garden bench makes a good place to take a bit of a rest. Or to put your pruners or soil knife so you don't lose them. Plow & Hearth has a folding bamboo bench for under $50. (plowhearth.com or 800-494-7544)
Plants. Giving plants to a gardener might seem like carrying coals to Newcastle. But you will not find a more appreciative recipient. Just give something different, such as an unusual orchid (not one from the grocery store), a bulb-forcing kit or a Christmas cactus. And since over-watering indoor plants is the most common cause of death, give a Water Stik - a device that tells you when to water - too. (jacksonandperkins.com or 800-292-4769; waterstik.com or 877-88-EARTH)
Seeds. Speaking of plants, why not give a collection of seed packets for flowers or vegetables and an eco-friendly Potmaker, a wood form for making seed pots out of newspaper. Choose from heirloom seed collections at Renee's Garden or Landreth Seeds. (reneesgarden.com; landrethseeds.com or 800-654-2407; earthbox.com or 888-917-3908)
Gift certificates. If you are still at a loss for what to get the gardener on your list, give a gift certificate to their favorite gardening catalog. Go to the Mail Order Gardening Web site for a list of more than 100 companies that sell plants, seeds, bulbs and gardening products and click through to the company of your choice. (mailordergardening.com).
Bird feeders. And finally, this is season to remember the other friends of the garden, the birds, who need food and water. There are bird feeders and suet stations of every descriptions, plus a heated birdbath - my children call ours "the bird hot tub" - available through Duncraft. (duncraft.com or 800-593-5656)