In the Garden:
Coastal and Tropical South
Give local gifts this year, like squash pickles from the Farmer's Market nearest you.
Go Gardening for Gifts
This holiday season, give three gifts: one of time, another of talent, and one on the spur of the moment. Make it like gardening, where time and smarts get you going and the best things are often unexpected.
Flats and Promises
Take a moment to think, then give the gift of your garden smarts. If you're able to dig and lift, write a parchment proclaiming these facts and offer it to any gardener who can't. Buried in daylilies or iris? Offer them to local Master Gardener groups. If a neighbor has bare ground under trees and you're overrun with ground covers, plop a big bow on a few flats and offer to help plant them on the first nice day. The gardener who wants to go organic might like this writer's new book, Organic Gardening Down South, available from my website, www.gardenmama.com. Those who know plenty already or who just like stories about gardening will love Weeder's Digest, a quarterly publication edited by Pat Stone and available at www.greenprints.com.
For Better Seasons
Should you be the resolving sort, you probably make this annual promise: I will keep records of my garden and so know when to plant, pick, and photograph my plants. Beautiful journals exist for this purpose, some with pockets to store seed packs and plant labels. Give yourself or a slightly obsessed friend one that's spiral bound for longevity. Need a quick idea for a gardeners' gift swap? Grab a fine fat pen and a pair of notebooks. Pick one of graph paper for sketching out beds or plant groupings and one for taking notes. Tie them up with a big shiny bow and a calendar for 2009.
Green Up Nongardeners
There are plenty of ideas in the garden world, even for the nongardeners on your list, and few have gender or economic issues -- these are gifts everyone can enjoy. Give any one away on a whim to the librarian, hairdresser, or someone you just met. Harvest evergreens, berries, seedpods, and ribbon to make door and desk swags that only the Grinch could dislike. Herb vinegars are easier than pickles and just as sure to be used. Nice bottles, white vinegar, and this basic mix: 1 garlic clove, 1/2 t mustard seeds, 1/2 t peppercorns, with basil, 1 cayenne pepper, and rosemary, or lemon verbena and pineapple sage. Include instructions to let it rest a month before using to let flavors develop. Pot up an amaryllis bulb, get it started, add a note with finishing instructions and be a secret Santa. Surprise the local kindergarten with a bird feeder and seed, with a solemn promise to fill it monthly.
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