In the Garden:
Share a plant you've grown yourself with a neighbor, shut-in, or child this holiday season.
A Gardener's Gifts
Let's face it, early 21st-century life is complicated, and time has become as precious a commodity as money. One of the best things anyone ever did for my mother was take the time to fill her hummingbird feeders all summer when she was no longer able to do it herself. Once a week, after working all day as an electrician, Bob, one of her gardening buddies, would come to change the sugar water, then stop and chat. The gift lasted all week long as she watched the little hummers swoop, dive, and drink.
The upcoming holidays give us gardeners the perfect opportunity to consider how we might give of our time. Sharing the life force of the natural world can have a tremendous impact on those around us. The person might be close to home, such as a grandchild, niece, or nephew, or an aging parent, aunt, or uncle. Maybe you don't know the person very well but know that he or she might benefit from someone paying attention to them.
Or, the sphere can be even wider. Perhaps it's a local school or nursing home. The possibilities are truly endless. It can be difficult to carve out the time, but you'll never regret it. Give some time this holiday season, but also make a list of things you can do in the coming year, then make a commitment to follow through.
- Take a holiday plant or a houseplant to shut-ins from your church. Remember to allow enough time to visit with the person.
Give a bird feeder and seed. If possible, promise to keep it filled this winter.
- Compliment a neighbor on his or her garden and ask advice.
- When dividing plants, share them with a neighbor, a school, a nursing home, or a community garden. Donate past issues of gardening magazines, extra seeds, or gardening gear as well.
Volunteer to plant and maintain a garden area at your local library, hospital, youth detention center, or nursing home.
- Talk with an older person to find out what fruits or vegetables they miss having from earlier days, then grow it the foods for them.
- Volunteer at your local school's garden.
- "Adopt" a child and teach him or her about gardening. For detailed ideas, National Gardening has developed a Parent's Primer (perfectly adaptable to non-parents as well), which is available at http://www.kidsgardening.com/family.asp.
- Donate extra produce from your garden to a local food bank or soup kitchen. The Garden Writer's Association has formed an entire program for sharing produce called Plant A Row for the Hungry. To learn more about this program and the possibilities of sharing garden produce, go to http://www.gardenwriters.org/Par/index.html.
- Gather a group of children and take them on a nature hike or get them to help you clean up a local park or roadside.
- Regularly visit and buy from a local farmer's market. Talk with the farmers; they love hearing about what you want, and they very much need your support.
- Offer to help someone in their garden.
Whatever you choose to share, remember: It's your time and personal interaction that are most important.
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