Finding gifts for the habitat restoring warrior, wildlife obsessed backyard naturalist, or gardening nature lover in your life can be tricky because their deepest joy and connections are more likely to the natural world, not the pop culture retail universe. I made a short list of ideas for this holiday season or for any time of year. The suggestions are different than the gift list I made a couple years ago for the backyard nature lover (HERE). That list included a work apron, bird paintings, book suggestions, possum and squirrel houses, a hori-hori knife, native plant seeds, native plant nursery gift certificates, a garden kneeler, and a yard sign. Many of the ideas in this post are taken from my own wish list – you won’t find affiliate ads here. Click the highlighted links for more detailed information about each item. (The gifts are in no particular order.)
Nature friendly and forward gift ideas to give to backyard naturalists who are creating habitat for wildlife where they live.
Waterproof Boots – A loved one who is more often outside in nature will undoubtedly welcome waterproof boots. I didn’t know how indispensable they are be until I received my first pair as a gift a few years ago. They protect me when working in the yard, at my community garden, or when walking in natural areas. There are many high-quality boots, but the brand and style I’ve become attached to are the BOGS Sauvie slip on waterproof boots for men or women – they’re sturdy, comfortable, slip-resistant, and I wear them at some point just about every day! They’re so adaptable to a variety of needs you can find them in both fancy footwear places and tractor supply stores.
Trail Camera – If you’re looking for a unique and special gift for someone who has a natural area to welcome wildlife to their yard a wifi trail camera is a great choice for monitoring all the wildlife at night or when no one is outside. The cameras are typically waterproof, motion activated, and have settings to send videos and pictures to a phone.
Behrens 2-Gallon Hot Dipped Steel Metal Watering Can – For a more environmentally sustainable watering can ditch the plastic and gift the habitat gardener in your life with a classic Behrens watering can. It also comes in other sizes, and you often find it at hardware stores. If money is no object (ha!) the Haws Warly Fall 2 Gallon is the Rolls Royce of watering cans and costs over four times the price of the $40 Behrens!
Bat House – When I went through the Trees Atlanta City Forest yard certification process, I offhandedly discounted the suggestion of adding a bat house to my rewilded yard because I didn’t know much about bats. I was also a little afraid of them from listening to a lifetime of bad bat PR. Yet the idea stuck in my head and the more I learned about bats, the more sense a bat house made because one of the reasons bat populations are in decline is habitat loss. You can give someone on your list the gift of supporting bat habitat with a bat house. I recently listened to a well-known bat expert who cautioned to buy a high-quality bat house from a source that values wildlife. He noted that some of the cheaply made bargain houses might have nails poking through the inside that can cut the bat’s wings. Anyone who receives a bat house will also be getting on-sight mosquito control – just one bat can eat over 3,000 mosquitoes each night!
Nature Forward Shirts will be appreciated for the nature advocate who doesn’t mind being a walking message board.
What better message than a No Mow No Spray Sign shirt that also supports the work the wildly popular Native Habitat Project is doing to protect to promote the restoration and management of native ecosystems. Kyle Lybarger, the founder of the Native Habitat Project is also spreading the word about ways to save nature to a new generation of conservationists with his hundreds of thousands of social media followers.
Snarky advocacy t-shirts with expressions like Lawn is a Weed, Leaf Blowers Blow, Unlawn America, You Want Holes in Leaves, and Leaves Aren’t Litter will undoubtedly bring a smile to nature protectors. Monarch Gardens has these and a other quirky options. The founder of Monarch Gardens, Benjamin Vogt is better known for writing Prairie Up, An Introduction to Natural Garden Design, another gift idea for someone who is over the tyranny of lawns.
Nature inspired art from a local artist is always a welcome gift. Linda Fraser is an Atlanta botanical artist who specializes in native plants of the southeastern United States. Some of her most intriguing watercolor and colored pencil paintings are of insects and native plants. She has prints and notecards for sale on her website and makes appointments for studio visits.
Insect Themed Gifts - Insects are having a moment as word is getting out connecting the major roles they play in maintaining ecosystems and their alarming 30% decline in the last 50 years. A few options include:
Give your favorite insect-lover an insulated polar tumbler covered in arthropods/insects from BeCause, a sustainably oriented company that donates a percentage to ecological non-profits and plants trees for every order.
Everyone loves fireflies! The title Silent Sparks - The Wondrous World of Fireflies by Sara Lewis tells you everything you need to know about her meticulously researched ode to fireflies that will bring out the child in anyone who receives it.
An insect lover would be thrilled to get a Beetles & Butterflies, Flutter & Fly 15 oz Ceramic Mug from Cognitive Surplus , a company making sustainable lifestyle goods to celebrate science.
Most of the chapters in Garden Allies by Frédérique Lavoipierre are devoted to sharing fascinating information about how beneficial the bees, butterflies, lacewings, beetles, spiders, crickets, katydids and all the other “little things that run the world” are for the garden. The delicate and lovely pen-and-ink drawings from Illustrator Craig Latker only enhance the charm of this book.
Sometimes the most practical gifts are the most appreciated. Knee pads are not sexy or inspirational, but for anyone who is restoring biodiversity where they live and kneeling for any length of time, knee pads can mean the difference between being able to walk the next day or being out of commission for a few days. I've tried several knee pads, and my favorite are the softer ones, not the hard, plasticky one - but there are plenty of options for everyone.
Pick out an inspiring nature book for a friend to curl up with on a cold winter day or a lazy summer afternoon
The engaging writing and gentle compassionate approach to living in harmony with nature in Nancy Lawson’s critically acclaimed books The Humane Gardener and Wildscape will inspire the backyard naturalist. Both books tell detailed and well researched stories about wildlife including butterflies, bumblebees, chipmunks, Carolina wrens, opossums, beetles, squirrels, and chipmunks.
A sweet book for nature lovers of all ages who want to create a healthier habitat where they live is Leslie Inman's book Your Yard is Nature. Enjoy the adorable illustrations along with important information about the ways we can restore nature where we live.
I love receiving a good book so I err on the side of giving books when I'm not sure what to give. Treat yourself and visit at a local bookstore to find a book you think a friend or loved one would appreciate. There are wonderful recent must reads like The Hidden Life of Trees by Peter Wohlleben or Braiding Sweetgrass - but don't discount giving groundbreaking nature classics in their own time like Silent Spring by Rachel Carson or the Noah's Garden by Sara Stein. (I profiled Doug Tallamy's books in my last gift guide and Nancy Lawson's books separately because they make such a nice gift sets)
Tools for Restoration Work - An extravagant and necessary surprise for anyone who does restoration work is a tool that helps with invasive removal - which unfortunately is what restoration work typically involves (at least in Georgia!). I asked my friend Pat who has done an extraordinary amount of restoration work at local parks what essential tools she would recommend.
Based on her experience and other friends she volunteers with the Silky Gomboy curve folding hand saw is the most desirable for cutting privet and other invasive shrubs and small trees. You can find this at hardware or outdoor sporting goods stores (where it is used for camping and backpacking), or online.
The two loppers Pat recommends are the Fiskar’s 32” PowerGear2 32” Lopper that optimizes the cutting power in the middle of the cut where the branch is thickest and you need it most, and the PowerGear 15” Super Pruner/Lopper which is smaller and lighter than other loppers so it reduces strain on hands and wrists.
Give a gift that does double duty supporting a local non-profit that is helping nature in some way. Depending on the recipient and the organization, you can give a direct donation or sign the person up for a perk or membership in the organization. Using Georgia Native Plants blog has a nice list of conservation organizations in Georgia to join and/or donate to in honor of someone else. Below are just a few examples of local organizations to donate/join in Atlanta – every city has similar organizations if you do a little research.
Park Pride - Everyone has a local park they love. In Atlanta you can make a restricted gift to a specific park through Park Pride. Your gift may be used only for the park or greenspace you designate through its Friends of the Park group. Funds raised can be used for park improvements or activation.
Georgia State Parks – For the person who like to be in touch with nature, in Georgia you can get a $50 annual parking pass for Georgia's State Parks to help fund renovations, trail work, dock replacements and more.
Trees Atlanta Tribute Tree - You can honor a tree hugger with a tribute tree for as low as a $25 donation at Trees Atlanta. Planting a tree is a gift that truly pays tribute and gives back for generations to come, as trees provide wonderful environmental, health, and aesthetic benefits to everyone. Each Tribute Tree becomes a part of Trees Atlanta’s One Million Trees Initiative, an innovative regional partnership of local nonprofit conservation organizations, cities, and counties across metro Atlanta. Recipients of a Tribute Tree acknowledgement will be notified that their tree is being counted toward one million trees planted or conserved in Atlanta.
South Fork Conservancy - For anyone who lives intown anywhere near the North and South Forks of Peachtree Creek, a donation in honor of someone to South Fork Conservancy would support restoring the green space on the banks of the South Fork of Peachtree Creek in the heart of Atlanta. They have created five miles of trails and spearheaded three new public parks and the overall plan includes 31 miles of trails along the South Fork and its tributaries.
Chattachoochee Nature Center - A gift membership or donation for the 127-acre Chattahoochee Nature Center just a bit north of Atlanta supports the trails, exhibits, programs and events and a mission to connect people with nature.
Georgia Audubon - For the backyard birders give a gift membership or donation to Georgia Audubon to help their mission to build places where birds and people thrive.
Georgia Native Plant Society - Help support the Georgia Native Plant Society’s mission of conservation of Georgia's native plants and their habitats with a gift membership or donation.
Note: There are no affiliate links in this blog. Please click the highlighted text throughout the post for links to references, details, explanations, worthy organizations or businesses, or examples that I think might be helpful.