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Green and Growing: Here are gift suggestions for gardeners with local roots

Gardening can’t be outsourced. The tools, products and services described below haven’t been outsourced either. Read on for locally inspired gift ideas for the 2015 holiday season.

Honeybees: The Stonewall Apiary in Hanover, a section of Sprague, offers three pound packages of three-band Italian honeybees with a mated queen for pickup in spring, 2016. Beekeeper Stuart Woronecki teaches classes in Mystic and Coventry and sells beekeeping equipment, too. Call (860) 334-2245; email, or visit

Worm composting systems: The Worm Ladies of Charlestown, R.I., offers red wiggler composting worms by the pound as well as composting systems. They even have gift certificates. Chomp, chomp! Call (401) 322-7675 or visit

Unique planters: It was serendipity that brought Madison potters Anita Griffith and Robert Parrott a supply of Connecticut River clay one day more than 25 years ago. Since then, they’ve made hundreds of planters with rustic flair from that once-in-a-lifetime find. The pots now carry an oval stamp that is permanent evidence of their unusual local origins. On a personal note, I own some and can honestly say that plants love to grow in them, indoors and out. Call (203) 245-7837, or email

Garden stoneware: Secret Gardens Herb Farms makes a wide variety of decorative cast stone statuary and ornaments at their Lincoln, R.I., location. They offer their products through independent garden centers throughout New England, such as Pequot Plant Farm in Stonington. Visit

Connecticut Gardener: This magazine is written by local experts about local landscapes. Publishers Will and Anne Rowlands issue four editions during the growing season, and their new online counterpart includes a fifth digital-only issue. I have happily subscribed for years. As a holiday special, there will be an additional print issue for new subscribers and/or gift givers who mention this column. Call (203) 292-0711; email; or visit

Essential water: I’ve used sturdy 60-gallon barrels from the Rhode Island Water Lady, West Kingston, for a number of growing seasons and wouldn’t be without them. In addition to rain barrels, Beverly O’Keefe, the “water lady,” offers accessory kits and downspout diverters. Delivery options available. Call (401) 539-0667 or visit

Seeds 2016: Connecticut seed companies offer a wide variety of beautifully packaged seeds and bulbs. John Scheepers Kitchen Garden Seeds, Bantam, offers a catalog and gift certificate combination at New England Seed, Hartford, has an extensive online catalog that offers everything from grasses to grains at Select Seeds, Union has an online gift certificate for their rare and antique flower seeds at Hart Seeds, Wethersfield, offers an attractive seed packets at independent garden centers and hardware stores throughout our area.

Spear Head Spade: When octagenarian Daniel Mathieu of Windsor found the garden a challenge, he invented a digging tool that’s easy on the back and knees. Today, the Spear Head Spade is available throughout the U.S. — including some local independent garden centers such as Mackey’s Agway in Colchester, Van Wilgens in North Branford, and Natureworks in Northford. I have relied on this spade for three years and give it a perfect “10” for light weight and the deep, precise cuts it makes.Visit or call (860)-688-3280.

Ratchet-cut pruners: The pruners manufactured and sold by Florian Tools, Southington, work like a car jack, using leverage to increase the power of the pruning cut while reducing hand strain. Result: People with arthritis, carpal tunnel, or diminished hand strength can continue to prune. I’ve used these pruners for three years and give them high marks for lightness, ease of use, and a good cut. Call (860) 628-9643 or visit Riggios on Rt. 153 in Essex and Pequot Plant Farm on Wheeler Road in Stonington.

Finally, many independent gardens centers offer herbs, flowers and greenery year-round, grown and cared for by their staffs. It’s a good bet the gardeners in your life have a soft spot for anything green, especially during these dormant times. Happy shopping.

Kathy Connolly is a landscape designer, garden writer and speaker from Old Saybrook. Website:



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