Archive | August, 2009

Free or Nearly Free Gifts For Gardeners

Whether I am on a tight budget, or have nearly no budget at all, I just love the challenge and feeling of success that I get from putting together a great gift with more creativity than money. Here are some fun ideas for great and free or nearly free gifts for gardeners anyone can create without spending more than a few dollars, or sometimes spending nothing at all!

If you have some fun old boots that have finally worn out, or even just one you found on the side of the road, (yeah, I can be a scavenger!) complete with a hole in the heel or toe or both, these can provide fun and free gift for gardeners! They can make great planters for a sedum, hens and chicks, or even the fragile looking but very tough pansies that thrive in our cool Rocky Mountain temperatures. Depending on the look of the boot, give some thought to whether they’ll lend themselves to a trailing plant (maybe lobelia for cool temps or shade, or sweet alyssum for sun or more heat) or something more compact. If there is only a drainage hole, can you create another one near the ankle to pop in another plant?

I always begin with thinking about what type of gift this gardener would love? Don’t be afraid to enjoy the contrast of a delicate pansy in a tough combat boot! You can even paint the boot, just be sure to seal it before and after you paint and before you plant, after cleaning, while it is dry. Consider temperature and conditions; how much light and water will the finished product need? A sedum needs nearly full sun in our zone and can go days, or even weeks with no water, depending on temperatures and humidity; not so with the pansy.

Remember to look around at your own stockpile of pots or baskets; you can create a free garden gift out of just about anything that will hold soil and water, with good drainage. How about an old teapot? Enamel pot with a hole? A colander? At yard sales or flea markets, these are usually nearly free, yet serve the purpose of a planter perfectly and as an added bonus, you are keeping them out of a landfill and creating a great and nearly free gift for a gardener while putting a smile on a grateful friend’s face! Then, check out your garden, yard and even your home for plants. Things like sedums and mints are easily pinched to start a new plant and you have a completely free garden gift! Or divide iris, lilies, or ground covers and give them a little time to root into their new container before you give them as a gardening gift.

Again, always give thought to the gardener you are gifting – would they like a tough combat boot, or what about a dainty lady’s shoe? Or even a unique purse or basket? Look at the material to determine a way to seal it if appropriate, inside and out and always find or create a hole or two for drainage! If it comes with a hole that is so large it creates a problem to keep the soil mix in, use a little sphagnum moss to allow drainage, while keeping the soil mix intact. Or, if it will be completely hidden, u can use an old nylon or cut up panty hose.

Here’s an idea for a nearly free gift for a gardener if you remember to plan ahead. An employee of mine was such a thoughtful gift-giver – she once took a picture of the front door of my old Victorian home in the middle of summer when my window boxes and porch pots were in full bloom. It was a flower gardeners paradise that year! For Christmas, she gifted me with that beautiful picture, in a simple, very inexpensive frame. What a great gift for this gardener! To see my beautiful flowers with hot pinks, deep purples and bright yellows and oranges in the middle of our long cold Rocky Mountain winter made spring seem much closer. I still have that picture in a prominent place so I can often remember my beautiful flower garden that year.

For a unique and free gift for a gardener who has a brand new home or garden, how about talking to mutual friends? Invite each of them to pitch in a plant or cutting from their yard or houseplant (they can even ask their neighbors or gardening friends) and one to find some kind of basket or other large container, or even an old wheelbarrow they’re ready to pass on, and you can make your own customized European Garden! If any of the gathered plants require special instructions, remember to include them. You could also include a picture of each donor holding their contribution along with a card of well wishes. What fun it will be for your gardening friend to enjoy their garden and remember the thoughtfulness of your group endeavor and their well thought out gift especially for them.

Part of the fun is sharing and building on one another’s ideas. What great creations can you think of in the realm of Free or Nearly Free Gifts for Gardeners?

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Gifts for Gardeners

Gifts for Gardeners

Finding the perfect gifts for gardeners can be fun, painless, inspired and imaginative or a bit intimidating, taxing and nerve-racking.  This article will ensure the former, to show you just how simple and creative shopping for home and garden gifts can be.  There is always some new gadget a gardener would like to add to their collection or a tool begging to be tried.  Whether you are searching for hostess, birthday, thank you, or a Christmas gifts for gardeners, or even “I’m thinking of you”, gifts for gardeners can be as fun for the giver as for the recipient.

We begin by thinking about the special gardener in your life.   As is good practice anytime I am looking for a gift for someone, I try to put myself in their shoes.  Or in this instance, in their garden.  Don’t you just love it when you know that someone really put thought into something they gave you?  That they really “got you”?  We can all tell when someone is really tuning in to us, and we feel it in the gift and its presentation as well.  Later we’ll get into the gardening gift basket.

What are their interests and tastes?  Sometimes they are verbal and expressive and this is easily known.  Other times, it may take a little investigative work, which can be fun too.  Deciding on gifts for gardeners is like figuring out a mystery novel.  Are they interested in flowers or veggies?  Herbs?  Seeds, bulbs or plants?  Perennials or Annuals?  Trees or shrubs?  Do they marvel at the fragrances wafting from a particular area of their yard, or someone else’s?  Are they into organic gardening?  Gardening apparel?  Do they enjoy the birds that visit their yard?  Is there a garden wall or fence just waiting to be decorated with just the right plaque, thermometer, sundial or clock?   Do they seem to love a particular style of watering can, nozzle or hose?  Have they had their eye on one of those new “turbo sprinklers?   Or soaker hose?  Could they use a hose guard or two that coordinates with their garden?  What about garden tools.  Do they prefer smaller hand tools, or long handled rakes and shovels?  Do they mention a particular brand?  Is their garden style formal or relaxed, perhaps a little overgrown?  Is there more shade or sun?  What’s the water situation?  Is it plentiful or more of a xeroscape, natural or low water atmosphere?  Are there structures?  Trellises?  Gazebos or pergolas?  Fountains?  Birdbaths?  Ponds?  What about containers?  Is everything planted in the ground?  Or does your gardener love formal, or crazy, unique things to plant in or around?  As you ponder and visualize these details, you will gain great insight into the perfect gifts for the gardener.

Suggestions for Gifts for Gardeners:

One of the most unique garden gifts I ever recieved was from an employee on a tight budget.  She took a photograph of my front door in July, with the surrounding window boxes and porch pots in full bloom.  She placed it in an inexpensive frame and presented it to me for Christmas.  It was a personal, meaningful, fun and colorful gift to receive in the dead of the long, cold, rocky mountain winter, when the beautiful, rich colors of summer were but a distant memory.

Gardening books and magazines, or a magazine subscription is always appreciated by the gardener.  Even being stuck inside as a blizzard rages outdoors, or weeks of cold or rainy days is made more bearable by settling down with a beautiful book filled with pictures and ideas to help us get lost in relaxing and planning, plotting and dreaming and thinking ahead to the longer, warmer days of spring.  And what gardener wouldn’t be grateful for the gift of a favorite gardening magazine and an ice cold drink as the scorching midday sun beats down outside?

Other great garden gift ideas are unique birdhouses, bird feeders or birdbaths.  There is every style and size available, in all price ranges, if you are in the market to purchase any one of these.  If you have more time than money, and are crafty, you can build your own.  If your creative juices are needing a little guidance, there are books in your local library that can help you with ideas, or even step by step plans and instructions.  Or you can make a feeder out of corn cobs.  Or pinecones and peanut butter, rolled in seeds!  Check your local area for recipes for birds in your locale.  A simple bird bath can be made by gluing a clay saucer (after sealing it well) to a clay pot turned upside down.

Spending time at a flea market or checking out local yard sales or junk yards may yield unique finds and save you money, in trade for time.  Look for pots, boxes, buckets or teapots; anything that will hold soil and water.  Even an old boot will work!  Or a washtub.  Remember you can use heavy plastic that you poke holes in, or wire and peat moss to repair just enough of a rusted, holey or missing side or bottom to make a great planter with the necessary drainage, and usually at a great bargain!  I especially love side holes, giving one more place to pop a lobelia, alyssum or pansy.  Or, for a hot, dry climate, a piece of sedum will quickly take root.

A great gift for organic gardeners is bugs!  Lots of beneficial bugs are readily available; lady bugs, assassin bugs, green lacewings and praying mantis are just a few of the available welcomed predators and organic gardeners will love them.  Remember you will want to time the emergence of the beneficial bugs with a fresh crop of aphids, so that most of the bugs will remain in the yard.  Specialty fertilizers like cottonseed hulls, bat guano or kelp meal could be the most original and memorable gift your favorite gardener ever receives.

Gift cards for gardeners are also always welcome.  Either for their favorite nursery, catalog company, or a completely new place they haven’t discovered yet.  If you’re looking for a really unique gift for a very special gardener, and you have the luxury of a larger budget, there are wonderful potting sheds, fantastic greenhouses and amazing gazebos and pergolas to be found.  Or fountains and other water features that really top off the garden and give it an entirely new focal point.  Hammocks, arbors and benches, lawn ornaments or large yard art can change the entire face of the garden.

Not so glamorous, a different and practical garden item is the composter.  There are many varieties of these available in different price ranges and these are the gift that keeps on giving.  On a smaller scale, how about a kitchen container with a snug fitting lid, just right for veggie peelings, egg shells, banana peels, coffee grounds and all the other perfect kitchen components to compost.  These containers also make creative beginnings to garden baskets!  Add a great “how-to” book on composting which are extremely informative and inexpensive, and you have a great gardening gift!

If your gardener has “gardeners to be”, there are boots, gloves, rakes, shovels and buckets for young ones just beginning to getting their thumbs green.  Wheelbarrows, watering cans, hoes, totes and trowels will keep the little ones involved and occupied for hours.  A child’s wheelbarrow can even be the beginning of a special gardening gift basket.  If they match some of the older gardeners prized garden pieces, even better!  And what parent wouldn’t be eternally grateful for your thoughtfulness in including their most important apprentices?

Gardening Gift Basket Ideas

Check out the seed kits.  Your gardener can collect their own seeds, put them in the handy seed packet, and have them organized to share or plant next season!  Hats and gloves are a fun, necessary part of gardening and always a good idea.  A garden planning book, thermometer, rain gauge, garden journal or photo book, along with a trowel or dandelion digger, unique or economical seeds and plant tags, pots and small yard art allow you to spend a lot or a little on a creative and personalized garden gift basket, whatever fits your occasion and budget.  Add a large or small plant or 2, or even 3, and you have a really special and thoughtful gift.

One of my favorite gifts for a gardener is a European garden.  It consists of 3 – 5 or even 6 plants.  These can be indoor or outdoor plants, in 2” to 6” pots.  Artfully place these plants in a plastic lined basket.  When choosing your plants, be sure to include different textures and colors and at least one blooming plant, if possible.  Top with moss to cover the tops of the pots, add a beautiful ribbon, maybe a bird or butterfly and anything else that comes to mind and fits the occasion.  Be sure to include any and all information on plant care that you have.

You can also look into the possibility of a garden theme photo album, journal, address book, checkbook cover, garden planter, or even place mats or home décor.   Think about mugs, serving pieces or plastic glasses, easily taken to the garden without worrying about breakage.  And don’t forget about hand crèmes and even bath salts, for relaxing after a backbreaking day in the yard.  Gift cards for massages or manicures are so appreciated by the hard working gardener to ease those aches and pains away.  As long as you spend a little time thinking about your gardener and the gifts you most think they would appreciate, let your intuition be your guide and you’ll make your favorite gardener’s day complete.

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