I BOUGHT MYSELF a new begonia this year, which quickly became one of the most asked-about plants at my open garden days. The other thing everyone asks about: my lightweight garden hoses. Either one would make a great holiday gift for gardeners—or you could give them to yourself, as I did, along with the item that has become my favorite stocking-stuffer. Ho, ho, ho.
‘AUTUMN EMBER’ BEGONIA: I grow this tender rhizomatous type (above, in my own pot) as a houseplant, but set it outside all gardening season with the rest of my begonia collection like a colorful annual. It came from Logee’s, which actually developed ‘Autumn Ember.’ It caught my eye because of the unusual orange foliage color, which is what attracted questions from my garden visitors, too. ‘Autumn Ember’ is as easy to grow as it is distinctive. Sold by mail, from Logee’s in Connecticut. If the 4-inch pot size is backordered, you can get two of the smaller size from this link, which is what I did anyhow, and planted both in my glazed black bowl. (While you’re there: I am also crazy about ‘Marmaduke,’ and ‘Little Brother Montgomery’–which gets more upright than bushy–and ‘Palomar Prince.’)
LIGHTWEIGHT WATER RIGHT HOSES: If you are still lugging around traditional garden hoses (or if anyone on your gift list is), then Water Right Inc.’s lightweight, drinking-water-safe hoses can fix that beautifully. I love the olive green color (above), but there is purple, wine and other choices. Three diameters of hose comprise the line, each in 25- to 100-foot lengths: The 400 Series (7/16-inch diameter), 500 Series (½-inch diameter, delivering about 25 percent more water than the 400) and 600 Series (5/8-inch, delivering another 25 percent more water than the 500). There is also a coiled version, if you have a smaller space than I do. Browse the Water Right hoses. (Amazon affiliate link.)
LOW-TECH RAIN GAUGE: This last suggestion is something I have bought again and again to give as a stocking-stuffer (and to use) from the Johnny’s Selected Seeds catalog. Talk about low-tech: It’s a plastic rain gauge you simply stick in the ground. I have three here, spread around the garden, and even though I also have an electronic weather station that theoretically is precise down to the hundredth of an inch, I cannot wait after a good rain to go out and check my plastic models. Watch out, this one will set you back $6.95 (find it at Johnny’s).