In the Garden:
Southwestern Deserts
December, 2009
Regional Report

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Containers make great gifts. Look for pot colors that enhance foliage or flower colors.

Inexpensive Gifts for Gardeners

When it comes to gift-giving, gardeners are some of the easiest folks to please. All kinds of fun, pretty, useful, and inexpensive options are at your fingertips. If you're a last-minute shopper, I hope these suggestions help you cross names off your list. And if you're trying to please non-gardeners, perhaps these gifts may inspire them to the turn to the green side!

Sock Of Seeds
Tuck an assortment of pretty seed packets into a Christmas stocking. Select your own favorites, with a note explaining their virtues. Or browse the seed racks for unusual varieties that you know the gardener hasn't yet tried. Theme gardens are a possibility: toss in a half dozen sunflower packets, the fixings for a pizza garden (tomatoes, green onions, garlic, bell peppers) or chef's salad (mesclun, carrots, radishes, Asian greens). Another option is to stuff a funky red sock with a mix of easy-to-grow seeds that you've cleaned and saved from your garden (but never got around to labeling in envelopes), such as spring wildflowers (blue bells, California or Mexican poppies, desert lupine, desert marigold, penstemon) or culinary herbs (chives, cilantro, dill, parsley). If the recipient has been "naughty" this year, fill the stocking with aromatic garlic cloves and green onion sets!

Pot Of Tea
Gardeners never have enough containers. I know a few gardeners who have hundreds of pots stacked in a corner, yet when it comes time to transplant they can't lay their hands on "just the right pot" to showcase the plant's features. Visit nurseries for pretty pots, of course, but also prowl arts and crafts fairs and shops that showcase local artisans for one-of-a-kind choices. Fill the pot with a selection of dried herbal teas from your garden or pop in a selection of 4-inch herb plants, with instructions to start their own tea garden. Mint is a refreshing flavor for most folks.

Time and Elbow Grease
A promise of your time and strong back may be much appreciated and perhaps more useful for some folks than a traditional gift. Design and print attractive IOUs on your computer or use your lovely penmanship or calligraphy skills to produce an old-fashioned scroll tied with ribbon. Present your IOUs to seniors or physically challenged folks (or perhaps a novice who'd like to learn how to garden) to redeem as needed.

Helpful tasks include digging and amending vegetable beds with compost for spring planting, spreading fresh mulch around landscape plants, and building waist-high raised beds that allow the gardeners to continue their hobby without kneeling or bending. A simple offer to drive them on a nursery outing, where you load up your trunk with heavy bags of compost or flats of pretty flowers, is a treat for folks who've gardened their entire lives but now find it challenging to "get around." Don't forget the grandkids. Bring out the crayons and markers to draw IOUs for snacking, butterfly watching, and an occasional weed-pulling session in the garden.


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