3 gifts any gardener will treasure

autumn-ember-begoniaI 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.’)

61qfyrlzmnl-_sl1056_-1LIGHTWEIGHT 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.)

09215_01_shkcprfraingaugeLOW-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 about $7.50 (find it at Johnny’s).

  1. Alan J Fisher says:

    Good morning!
    Based on your recommendation a year or so ago, we bought one of your hoses.
    Amazing! Not only did we buy a second, but we bought a third as a Christmas gift.
    Cannot endorse it strongly enough!

  2. Pia Davis says:

    Hi Margaret, that’s a beautiful begonia. Also a beautiful pot! Do you remember where you got it? I have trouble finding nice pots.
    Thank you,

  3. Dorothy Wichmann says:

    Haven’t tried the light yet,,,but been thinking abou it. I will certainly check yours. My hoses are soooo heavy! Thanks.

  4. Beverly, zone 6, eastern PA says:

    I also delight in studying my plastic rain gauge right after precipitation stops. I keep track of the amounts, which often differ from the regional reports taken at the airport. I like to know just how dry the beds are and if I need to irrigate. Recording amounts is the only way to be sure.

    That begonia is an eye-popper, and certainly must be a beacon inside in winter, too. The color reminds me of my favorite coleus ‘Spitfire’, also slightly changeable with varying amounts of sun. I overwinter that from cuttings annually. From Logee’s, I am still enjoying my ‘Cracklin’ Rosie’ Begonia, very dark burgundy leaves with spots, great contrast to the mostly green tones of winter houseplants. Running low on window space this year.

  5. Ginny Ballou says:

    Seeing as I have a REAL love/hate relationship with my current hoses – balance tipped to the h___ side, I must try these hoses. Honestly – the past summer here in eastern MA was a true gardeners challenge -especially the watering! Thanks for the tip!!

  6. gina salden says:

    how many people out there would like Margaret to show more inside pics of her unique home and décor? especially in the winter months ahead when we cant get out to garden!

    1. Tracy says:

      I do love these hoses. I bought three several years ago, based on your recommendation, and they do not disappoint.

      I would love to know more about your weather station. I’m thinking of getting one (I’m a bit obsessed about weather, overall) and am overwhelmed by the glut of choices. Which do you have, what features do you use most, and do you like it? Thanks, Margaret.

  7. Kathie says:

    I recognized Autumn Embers the minute Isaw your picture, it is lovely. I came across “Autumn Embers” this summer at Sage Garden in Winnipeg, Manitoba, Canada, & had to have it. Itspent the summer in a basket on a trellis on our house, doubled in size & now I am enjoying it indoors. Kathie

    1. margaret says:

      I am a real begonia nut, with many old plants that go inside and outside each year…and this one is very distinctive. Love it. Nice to hear from you, Kathie.

  8. Martha C Hansen says:

    I have one of those hoses, based on your recommendation, and love it! Will be buying another one for next season. So much easier to handle.

    1. Rosie says:

      Ha – brilliant, Liv!

      And I second the Water Right hoses commentary – so thankful to have learned about them from Margaret.

  9. gina salden says:

    I want to order the begonia today… but I NEED your black glazed bowl! where did you get it? pretty please.. tell us! thanks !!

  10. Jody says:

    You always provide fantastic recommendations, Margaret! I also have these hoses, and they are fabulous; whenever someone else uses them, they end up buying one.

    Would you please provide some additional recommendations for your favorite go-to books — general, specialty, etc.?

    Always enjoy your site and podcasts. Merry Christmas!

  11. Sue says:

    Hi Margaret –
    Love the Begonia plant. I have one also but not in the beautiful orange color like yours. Mine is a deep green with small light green spots on the leaves. It’s growing in a black pot as well !

  12. As a landscape gardener of over 30 years, people are starting to struggle for presents for me! I do have a sneaky suspicion that my wife has got me a couple of gardening gifts so I am looking forward to seeing if any are in the list you have listed here! I will let you know haha!

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