December 17, 2011

Useful digital gifts which may surprise you (and them).

I'll be honest, I started this post with just App's for gardeners, but I reached a point where I felt that I could not really suggest any of the apps, since I really could not find any that I would have wanted myself. Most are silly, too simple, useless, or poorly designed. Come-on developers - let's get going! Instead, I am suggesting some gift ideas that come from unusual sources: the world of trail-running, hunting, fashion and even a dentist's site, starting with this:

1. Oh Yes..... A Digital Microscope! ( and camera).

Find ViTiny on Amazon, but it's price is a little higher than list.

This may be the most interesting and useful gift for any serious plantsperson - essential for students or the genus kid who wants to win the next science fair, it very well could make the stocking of an adult gardeners who is curious about pollen, insects, floral parts, identification or for fun. Finally, in the global plethora of iPods and music players, comes something that a plant enthusiast could really use. Imagine botanizing for alpines in Chile, or the Alps, and pulling out your digital microscope to view some seed pods on a saxifrage? 

It magnify's 5x - 90x, so you're not exactly going to find some new particle that could be named after you, and will prove string theory, it still allows you to examine, explore and discover a whole new world of plants.
At $199.00 it's not too expensive, and since it acts as a digital camera too, it blasts away any Sony Quickshot. Aston Kutcher may not be using this at his next coctail party, but I might be!


2. Dodocase -  Have your iPad Bound like a fine book

This is simple elegance, I think I am in love with the Dodocase!  As a designer myself, I kick myself for thinking of this first. I mean, I did invent this ( but never showed any one because I thought people would laugh!). Come on -  don't tell me that you don't miss the smell and feel of a hard-cover book? OK, I may not be man enough to admit that I rarely purchased paperbacks, because I preferred cloth-bound books ( I even remove the paper slip covers ruining any value) ( but I'm old fashioned in that quirky way, where I insist on staying through the credits of a film, to compete the 'full experience' and to appreciate the score'). 

The Dodo Case - not only a gift for the Neo Luddite, anyone who appreciates a fine book and reading experience will love one. It's one of those Holiday gifts that I believe any gardener would appreciate. Available from the Dodocase website, or the Jcrew website ( in case you need to oder me one for delivery by Christmas).


3. Digital Binoculars and Digital Camera, all in one. 

Thanks to Bushnell, the leader in binoculars, this device, also available for around $200.00, can be very useful for many gardeners, outdoors people and birders. Imagine trying to visually capture some images blossoms on the top of a rare magnolia in China, or a rare honey creeper in Hawaii, as it sips nectar at the top of a tree, or a hummingbird high on a Saguaro cactus in Arizona ( OK, or, to nail that 8 point buck before you blow him away).


4. Trail Runner Software - Track your plant hikes, GPS mark your finds

Trailrunner is a software program designed for trail runners and mountain bikers, but it also is priceless for hikers, and plant hunters, if you spend time in the back country or at high-elevations ( take note you NARGS members looking for a unique gift for your alpine plant enthusiast).  Trailrunner is a route planning software at it's core, but it can do more than record the calories and the distance traversed, it can calculate routes, alternate return trails, export information and directions onto your iPhone or GPS, and it provides detailed GPS information the entire time that you are on the trail. Need to note exactly where you saw that Eritrichium nanum ( and it will take 760 calories off of that lunchtime raclette that you chowed down back at the hutte).


5. Personal Lightning Detector 

From a company that makes home weather stations ( I like those too, since an old-fashioned rain gauge and barometer stick, may seem quaint and old-school, when it comes to weather, I like to be serious about it). This is available from Ambient Weather.com, and it is a device which may seem senseless to some people, unless you spend as much time as I do out in the garden, or hiking above treeline in the mountains. It is also helpful if you spend too much time out in the garden putting up a scarecrow just as a thunderstorm is brewing up ( just sayin'). 


  1. I kinda like that microscope/camera!

  2. An excellent post! I haven't visited in a while but I'm glad I stopped by. That microscope camera is calling my name, I'm going to keep an eye out for it in the coming months. Seems like a necessity.

  3. We purchased three of the microscope cams for the Coastal Maine Botanical Gardens...thanks so much for the tip. I am having a blast playing with one right now!!


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