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Gift ideas spring from the garden

Need a few gift ideas? There are many, for both your gardening and nongardening friends, that come out of your yard.

Gift baskets are quick and easy and can fit into any budget. Pick a theme and fill the basket (or bucket or flower pot) accordingly.

Some suggested themes:

Annuals. Load the container with a healthy, blooming 1-gallon annual. Add a laminated card explaining the care and cultivation along with other annual flower seeds, bloom booster (fertilizer), and a book on annuals.

Small hand tools. This is ideal for your indoor gardening friend. Add cuttings from your favorite houseplants to personalize it.

Seeds. You can gather seeds from plants in your back yard. With computers and color printers, it's easy to make packages for these seeds and personalize them.

Compost. Include instructions for composting, a compost starter, which is a handful of soil from your compost pile, and a compost thermometer.

Florida bulbs. For this basket, include Florida-friendly bulbs like African lily, amaryllis, calla, crinum lily, spider lily, daylily, watsonia, gladiolus and zephyr lily.

Weeds away. This can include herbicide, a weed identification booklet, a hand trowel and a coupon good for one free hour of weeding from you.

"Oh, my aching back." Think scented candles, mug and hot chocolate or tea, and Baththerapy from GNC.

Don't let this list limit you. Think about what your gardening friends like best and tuck that into a basket. Containers are easy to find and inexpensive. Be on the lookout throughout the year.

Gifts for nongardeners. People who are not gardeners might still enjoy the bounty from your garden. If you grow herbs, it's simple to freeze or dry a variety of herbs, place in decorative containers and give as gifts. Both culinary and aromatic herbs are appreciated. Attach a note card with the herb's name and uses.

If you're lucky enough to grow a variety of aromatic herbs, make up potpourris. These may include lavender, rose petals, fragrant flower petals, citrus peel and scented geranium leaves. Begin with thoroughly dried crispy petals and leaves. Combine with fixatives, spices and fragrant oils. These are available in craft stores. To prepare the potpourris, store in a covered container for several weeks and shake from time to time. After the mellowing period, place the dried material in small containers with removable lids or stuff into little cloth bags.

Herbal vinegar is also appreciated and easy to make. Red wine, apple cider or balsamic vinegar are good choices. Cut your fresh herbs and rinse thoroughly in water. Use about one cup of fresh herbs to every two cups of vinegar.

Place the herbs in sterilized containers and cover with warmed vinegar. Cover the jar tightly and place in a dark location at room temperature. Shake the jar every couple of days. The herbal vinegar will be ready in one to three weeks. When the taste is right, strain the vinegar (cheesecloth works well), and fill newly cleaned and sterilized bottles with the vinegar. Place a sprig of fresh herb in the bottle for aesthetic reasons and then tightly seal the bottle. Label and include a list of recommended uses when given as a gift.

Finally, a gift for you. When your list is finished, spend some time in your garden. This is the best gift you can give yourself during the hectic holiday season.

Gift ideas spring from the garden 11/19/09 [Last modified: Thursday, November 19, 2009 3:30am]
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