The dictionary defines the word gift as “Something that is bestowed voluntarily.” Sometimes, at this time of the year with Christmas garlands around every product in the supermarket, drugstore, department store and boutique there doesn’t seem to be much of the ‘voluntary’ available.
And yet, sometimes a gift is not only truly voluntary, it is inspired, perfectly suited to the recipient at that particular moment, a gift that fills a secret need or desire. My first Greenfield Christmas was the first Christmas after my divorce and all the familiar traditions seemed long ago and faraway so it was not easy for my five children.
I had a housemate, Wendy, who joined us (with her dog and eight puppies!) in September and left us just before Christmas to tend her injured mother, but not before she had given each of the children a gift. Chris received the Guiness Book of Records, something I never would have thought of, which kept all five busy for hours, but I especially remember that Wendy gave Betsy, age 9, a little flashlight to keep under her pillow because she had somehow learned that Betsy was newly afraid of the dark. This was not a gift to be shrieked over, but a gift to be kept close for its quiet comfort.
Not every gift we give will achieve this kind of perfection, but I think gardeners are among the easiest people to delight. Any gift connected to the garden is an acknowledgement of the passion that the gardener has for her (or his) plot, and a message that the giver shares vicariously in that passion.
I took a walk through my two favorite and local garden shops and found any number of things that would make ideal gifts for the gardener in your life, and even for yourself as you decorate for the holidays.
I go past the Shelburne Farm and Garden Center at least once a week, and it is hard not to stop and see what is new. Pat Schmidt knows how I feel about solar power; she was quick to point out the solar powered fairy lights that come on automatically when it is dark enough. They can be strung on an outdoor wreath or other decoration. A string of 20 lights is $29.99, and a string of 48 is $34.99.
SF&G also has energy saving LED lights: $19.99 for five huge blue and white snowflakes, and $29.99 for ten large bright icicles. Festive lights are always an important part of holiday decorations, indoors and out.
Those who require a houseplant or ten will always need a pretty pot. New England Pottery has a variety of pretty ceramic pots in pink, coral, yellow and blue in various sizes, including self watering pots so that if you go away for a week in the sun you won’t need to worry about your plants dying of drought.
The Shelburne Farm and Garden people love the birds. They have birdfeeders of every description for every type of seed attracting every type of bird. I was particularly struck by the colorful and whimsical feeders that resembled bird houses. Of course they have 40 pound bags of seed as well ranging in price from $26. to $40. depending on the seed or seed mix.
Gift certificates are available, as well.
In Greenfield I frequently stop at the Greenfield Farmer’s Exchange on High Street because they have such a huge variety of items.
My husband does not like the unlovely compost bowl by the kitchen sink and would probably like one of the 1 gallon handsome Compost Keepers. They come in a variety of styles, bamboo with a plastic insert for 39.95, bright ceramic for $26.99 or shiny stainless steel for $38.99.
Every year I become more devoted to garden gloves. The Farmer’s Exchange has a full range of soft jersey gloves for adults and kids, the Atlas nitrile gloves that I particularly like for only $4.95, and West County leather gloves for $24.95. Different types of gloves for different types of chores. The bright colors in all types are cheerful, and make them a little less likely to be lost in the grass or weeds when you finally have to pull one off to complete some particularly delicate task.
You can also give your gardener a head start on the growing season. Botanical Interests is a fairly new, family owned seed company. Seed packets of vegetables and flowers range between $3.49 and $3.99. The packets are so pretty they need no wrapping and would beautifully top a Christmas stocking. I was interested to see that BI has seeds for the castor bean. This is a huge annual with large dark blue-green leaves tinged with red, and funny fuzzy beans. I wouldn’t grow this if I had little children around because the beans are poisonous, but the plant is stunning. I would only need one or two. They are big!
The Farmer’s Exchange also sells gift cards at a 10% discount, which means a $10 card only costs $9. I am a great believer in gift certificates and gift cards. I understand that many people in my family don’t know enough about gardens in general, or even my garden in particular to know what is needed or useful and that the gift card they choose will make it possible for me to have just what I need.
Enjoy your shopping. There are people to be made happy, and it doesn’t necessarily take a lot of money.
Between the Rows December 12, 2009