Gardeners are the easiest people in the world to shop for because there are two gifts that are absolutely surefire.
The first is a garden book. Start with a good up-to-date garden encyclopedia, unless your recipient is computer literate. If they are, they don’t need one. There are three that I would recommend: “Encyclopedia of Garden Plants For Every Location” (CK publishing ); “The American Horticultural Society A-Z Encyclopedia of Garden Plants,” edited by Christopher Brickell; and “The Wise Garden Encyclopedia: A Complete Practical and Convenient Guide to Every Detail of Gardening” by E. L. D. Seymour. All are available at Amazon.
If your gardener has a favorite plant — for example, if they are a daylily enthusiast — then find the relevant society, because almost every plant has one, and see what they are offering.
There’s also a series of books, published a number of years ago, the Time-Life Encyclopedia of Gardening. Used copies are available on Amazon and no gardener would mind a good book that’s “used.” There are volumes for almost every subject. I own Roses, Annuals, Perennials, Bulbs and Flowering Shrubs, all simply wonderful. There’s no book I would rather have.
Then there are individual authors that any gardener would enjoy meeting. My two favorites are Gertrude Jekyll and Ruth Stout. Jekyll’s family was close to Robert Louis Stevenson, and whether he had permission or not, apparently he felt free to borrow that name for the doctor that went along with Mr. Hyde. And, not because it’s terribly relevant but is sort of interesting, they pronounced the “e” to rhyme with “seek” not with “heck.” Americans don’t. Ruth Stout, who was the sister of the mystery writer Rex Stout, is another wonderful writer, especially on the subject of mulch, dear to any good gardener’s heart.
The second gift that’s always welcome is the gift of gardening time. This is an especially good gift if finances are in short supply, but I think is more than welcome regardless. You can take an index card and write the number of hours and the chore; for example, “six hours of weeding” or “three hours deadheading.” To sit on the ground deadheading coreopsis, if a member of the nearest and dearest is doing it with you, is no longer a chore, now it’s a pleasure. Think about what you’re willing to do, wrap your index card with paper and ribbon and you’re all set.
New tools are always nice; I don’t think you need to worry if they are actually needed, because for a present to be a pleasure doesn’t require a “need.” A new hand rake, shovel or wheelbarrow could only be a good gift. There are also light units for the indoor gardener, which can range from a single bulb to a three-tier freestanding unit. I used to have one of these and really loved it. Make sure the recipient has the space near water — otherwise, it’s too much of a challenge.
Shop happily; gardeners are an easy-going bunch. It’s not likely you can go far wrong.