Bartlett on Gardening: Great Gadgets and Gizmos to Give Gardeners

​​Once upon a time in the 1950s, a lad called on his next-door neighbor to demonstrate, as seen on TV, the amazing Hula Hoe. First he jumped up and down on it pogo-stick style. Next he vigorously attacked the shrubbery undergrowth, rapidly creating a vegetation-free zone. As the boy with the hoe headed for a row of seedlings, my dad pulled out his wallet to hand over $5.

That novelty hoe is now my husband's favorite tool. You can see him wielding it pleasurably at right. It is still a means of clearing a significant area of weeds in record time. If you're really lucky, one of these originals might turn up in an estate sale, but I bet most, like ours, are treasured family heirlooms. For something along the same lines, you can buy a new oscillating hoe. It looks sturdier, but I cannot promise that it will last 50-plus years.

Business end of hula hoe.

I am not a gadgeteer. Nevertheless, when a catalog implied that the "Ho Mi Hand Plow" (below) would bring the wisdom of the ages to weeding, I bought two and saved a dollar. They arrived very aesthetically packaged. I removed one implement, saving the other (and the packaging) for holiday giving. My daughter rated it as her very best gift that year.

​​As for ours, my husband, never one to abandon long-handled tools, loves it. He actually looks for opportunities to do some close weeding work. I have virtually abandoned my trusty standby for the Ho Mi. Unfortunately, it is designed only for right-handed users.

A fellow master gardener volunteer urged me to give Fiskar's garden scissors a try. Like other Fiskar products, these are not hard to find. I have a fixed price range for novelties, and at $12.99, I was reluctant to exchange my retired sewing scissors for them. I am so​​ very glad that I did. The beveled blades make quick work of deadheading and are short enough to maneuver among flowering stems. Because they cut without crushing, they are perfect for gathering bouquets.​​

If you are searching for stocking stuffers for your favorite gardener, gloves are ideal. I wear out one or two pairs every year. Look for those that come in sizes as some of us have small hands and others large ones. If your friend is into roses, the gauntlets which protect the arms as well as the hands are a very thoughtful gift.

To tell the truth, one of the best things I've ever received was a bar of Grandma's Grime Away Soap. It is just gritty enough to do the job while providing a moisturizing effect.

Happy holiday hunting to all!

Native Californian Ann Bartlett never lets a lack of experience with a plant stop her from trying it in the ornamental beds outside her home.

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