In this busy season of gifting it’s easy to lose sight of the things that really matter. Few of us really need more things. For the gardeners on your gift list this season, consider something different:
Give them a gift membership to a public garden located nearby, or alternatively, make a donation to a garden or other non-profits in their name. In our times of economic belt-tightening, these organizations need support, and your recipient may benefit in multiple ways—by enjoying repeated garden visits, having a sense of ownership in a local treasure, and perhaps even discovering other like-minded neighbors who are similarly involved.
Or perhaps you should give them a membership in the Garden Conservancy. Membership benefits include a complimentary copy of the Open Days Directory, and a generous 50% discount on the ticket price at the gate for Open Gardens during next year’s season. These are often remarkable private gardens that their owners open to visitors for the day. Frequently the gardens are near each other, providing an enjoyable day or half day of touring. The membership also includes a subscription to the Garden Conservancy’s print and electronic newsletter– containing articles about Conservancy projects and events.
For those gardeners who really do need things, there are gift certificates from small businesses that supply essentials such as seeds and bulbs, plants and books, tools, and perhaps most important during this season of garden-planning and dreaming– inspiration. My favorites in this group of family and/or employee-run businesses include: Brent and Becky’s Bulbs, Johnny’s Selected Seeds, Territorial Seeds, John Scheeper’s Bulbs, Renee’s Garden, Odyssey Bulbs (for unusual tender ones to grow in your greenhouse), Forest Farm, Bluestone Perennials, and Gardener’s Supply. It’s been my experience that these companies all deliver on their promise to provide excellent service and are committed to honest quality.
Another gift always appreciated—particularly by those who garden themselves– is something you grew in your own garden. Pack up some seeds from one of your favorite beans or sweet peas this past year. Or bag up several of your best garlic or potatoes. Pickles and chutneys created with your own fresh produce will spice up many an otherwise dull winter meal. Perhaps they didn’t grow the same herbs as the ones you dried so efficiently this summer, or put up as much jam. Gifts from the garden contain that special ingredient–the thought that counts.