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From the GTG Garden and Greenhouse

I am quite excited! . Some years it seems difficult to get into the spirit of the season but this year we had our first real cold and snow at the end of November. That is my signal that winter is here and it's time to light the Advent candles, one every Sunday. Join us on our facebook page and share some of your holiday traditions!

Merry Christmas, Belle

Green Thumbs Galore LLC

Gifts from the Heart...and from the Garden!

by Dava Stewart

My family is big - so big that to spend even $5 on a gift for each person would put a dent in most holiday budgets. Yet, we love to celebrate, and to give one another gifts. To bridge the gap between our desire to give and our limited budgets, most of us get creative. Over the years, I have given or received all sorts of wonderful, homemade gifts including candles, soaps, baskets, scarves, ornaments, frozen biscuits, loaves of bread, flavored oils, plants, and seeds.

While homemade gifts are economical, they are also often good for the planet. There is no waste or environmental cost to collecting seeds or bulbs from your garden! In our modern age of consumerism, it feels good to know that you can make someone smile without doing damage to the planet.

Gardeners are luckier than many others when it comes to giving gifts on a tight budget. Besides seeds, cuttings and bulbs, you can give pressed flowers, dried herbs, small pots of kitchen herbs, or even make an instructional video of how to grow a favorite plant, cook a meal made from ingredients gathered in the garden or anything else the person receiving your gift might be interested in learning that you could demonstrate.

Of course not everyone is interested in garden-related stuff. Some people don’t like the outdoors, or have terrible allergies, or don’t want to get their nails dirty. Those folks might enjoy a bottle of olive oil flavored with rosemary from your garden, or an oil infused with the scent of rose petals. Not many people will turn down a jar of homemade jelly or jam, either.

When I make gifts, I think about the people who will receive them. One year, I mixed batches of biscuit dough, rolled it, cut out the biscuits, put them in cheap aluminum pans that I greased and froze them. I also made and partially-baked apple pies and froze them. Then I had fun trying to decide who should get a pie and who should get biscuits. My cousin who was away at college got biscuits because I figured he missed home-cooking, but my friend who worked full time and had a toddler got pie because she didn’t have much time to cook anything other than basic meals.

I don’t know about anyone else, but for me it’s much less work to make something at home than it is to battle the crowds at the malls! Even if my creations aren’t perfect, they are unique. I never have to wonder if the recipient will already have whatever I’m giving.

Some hand-crafted gifts take advanced planning - you can’t give jars of jam you didn’t make! If you are short on time and/or supplies, you might consider putting together a gift that is half purchased and half homemade. For example, if you have someone on your list who might enjoy learning about birds, you could pick up an inexpensive copy of a book on birding at a used book store, then put string, bits of cotton, dried grass and other nest building materials in a bag with a card explaining how they should be placed and what birds might use them.

Besides giving someone a physical gift, you also have the option of giving them an experience. A ticket to a botanical garden, or to a class being offered in your area, or teaching your recipient how to do something are all gift possibilities that are thoughtful and usually economical. This is an option that is appealing to those of us who don’t feel creative enough to hand-make gifts.

The holiday season means different things to different people, but even if you don’t celebrate a major holiday during December, you still probably have occasion to give gifts throughout the year. When you do, remember the joy that you find in your own garden. Any gift that allows you to share that joy is sure to be appreciated.


December in the Greenhouse growing for Spring 2012:

Amsonia - Arkansas Blue Star: