There are, of course, the basics, such as shovels, spades, forks, trowels, rakes, gloves, hats, and, in Oregon, anyway, mud boots. Not the most exciting of gifts, but useful and necessary for serious playing in the dirt. Creative packaging can transform these practical gifts into good-looking, multi-purpose presents.
You can find woven baskets of all shapes and sizes in thrift stores, for example. Choose a few gardening implements, line the basket with a colorful bandana, and add a pair of good gardening gloves, some seed packets, decorative plant markers, sunglasses, a bottle of hand lotion and/or sunscreen; maybe a bottle of wine for when the day's work is done. Choose whatever strikes your fancy and budget. Wrap the finished basket in cellophane, put a bow on top, and place basket under tree. Lovely!
In the tools and gadgets department, a bewildering array of prices and quality awaits. It's tempting to try to keep the budget in check by spending less, but you usually do get what you pay for. Check how securely handles and other parts are fastened, and that sharp pruners and loppers have a safety catch. Sturdier tools cost more, but are likely to last longer, and may make the chore they're designed for easier on the user.
- Gazing globes are an attractive addition to the landscape. Globes are available in a variety of colors. Some are solar-powered, and all look beautiful in their surroundings. Stands to display them come in a selection of shapes and finishes, too, and add their own sculptural appeal.
- The Farmer's Almanac is an interesting and inexpensive gift. Full of tidbits about gardening, best planting times for different crops, astrology, weather forecasts, and folklore, it's fun to look through, and to see how closely weather conditions match the predictions as the seasons progress.
- Gardening journals are great for keeping track of when and what you have planted where, how well they're growing, when you last fertilized, watered, or mowed, which areas have sun and for how many hours, the recent temperatures and conditions, and for recording your musings about the state of your garden and the world in general. I love the hardcover garden journal I received last year, with gardening tips and anecdotes in the margins throughout the book. The only trouble is that I was so busy "doing" this summer that I didn't have time to write about it.
For bigger ticket items, consider giving a greenhouse, large or small, a garden shed for supplies, potting tables, garden statuary, good-sized trees, tillers, weed trimmers; even lawn mowers and tractors. How about the gift of professional lawn care services for next season? I sure wouldn't say no!
Chances are good that if it's something you'd like, your gardening compatriots will, too.
For those of us on a tight budget, try re-purposing some household items and tools for a unique homemade present. Some examples:
- Use old shoes and mud boots for an interesting and unusual planter. Pot up some small plants and herbs for year-round color and seasonings. Here in Western Oregon, rosemary stays fresh all year, and primroses and primulas bloom despite cold weather. Newer varieties of pansies are winter-hardy, too.
- String mismatched forks and spoons together to make a wind chime.
- Make an aquarium into a terrarium. Use foliage plants that like humid conditions, or create a miniature "fairy garden" for those who appreciate whimsy, with tiny furniture, ceramic toadstools, colorful stones or glass - see where your imagination takes you in creating a microcosmic indoor garden!
From the Garden
- Root and pot up cuttings from your garden or indoor plants. African violets, for example, are easy to propagate. A single leaf stuck into a pot of planting mix will sprout roots and grow into a new houseplant to give.
- Save seeds from your favorite plants. Put them in a tin or decorate a film canister, include a label with plant information and care, and place inside a pretty new pot.
- Dried rose petals or lavender make lovely scented sachets for tucking into a drawer. Make a little pouch for them from holiday fabric, and tie with ribbon. Embroidering initials on them adds a delightful personal touch.
- Make your own seasonings with dried herbs. Find interesting glass bottles with lids at thrift stores, or reuse your empties. Make your own labels, and tie a few of the spice jars together with raffia. With oregano, bay leaves, and thyme, for example, include your special recipe for spaghetti sauce.
- A little late for this year, but next summer, plan to put up some of your garden goodies and make tomato salsa, sauerkraut, pickled green beans, dried beans for soup, applesauce, zucchini bread and the like.
- Create your own coupons, redeemable for your help with weeding, harvesting, or mowing, for example.
For our friends with a sense of humor, gardeners or not, there's "100% Free Range Chicken Poop Lip Junk, an All-Natural Cosmetic Moisturizer. Contains No Poop!" Made by Simone Chickenbone, LLC, it's a unique stocking stuffer sure to elicit a smile - or maybe an "ewww." Or maybe it's the new lump of coal!
When making your gift list, don't forget to include something for yourself.
- Be pampered with a mani-pedi to soothe those summer-toughened, shopping-weary feet and pretty-up your hands.
- Order a delivered truckload of soil or mulch.
- Treat yourself to that beautiful vase you've had your eye on, or perhaps an exotic orchid planted in an exquisite container, to brighten the indoors with its color and graceful form.
Me, I'm asking Santa for a liner, pump, and filter for the 10 x 8 x 3-foot crater in my back yard that will someday be a pond. Hope he can fit it into the sleigh and down the chimney!
Happy Holidays, and may your fondest wishes be realized in this magical season.