Regional Gardening Reports :: National Gardening Association

In the Garden:
Southern California Coastal & Inland Valleys
November, 2004
Regional Report

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This 6-foot-tall, brilliant, red-purple amaranth will self sow in my garden forever, but seedlings can be easily transplanted into other friends' gardens.

Garden-Inspired Gifts

What could be a more appropriate gift for your gardening friends than something from your garden? They will appreciate something you made yourself, and you'll get twice the pleasure: by growing the plants and then making the gifts.

Flavored Vinegars
Your rosemaries, thymes, cilantro and other herbs, and raspberries, oranges, apricots and other fruits can all flavor vinegars. The process is quite simple, and you can use those interestingly shaped bottles to make the gift more festive.

Seeds and Plant Divisions
Many plants in my garden are named according to their givers: Mary's Shasta daisies, Eva's 'Hot Cocoa' rose, Jennifer's amaranthus, Jane's oncidiums, Donna's turban squash, Steven's fava beans, Jim's hollyhocks. My first gift plants were from my Mom: boysenberries that I took root cuttings of whenever we moved, and cuttings of a delicate shell-pink rose that I identified only after her death and was thrilled to find that it matched her name -- "Bessie!"

Make Something Herby
Everyone loves a delicious gift, and all the better if it's made with ingredients from your garden. How 'bout garlic-rosemary bread, your favorite barbecue sauce containing your own herbs, or pineapple-upside-down-cake with pineapple sage blossoms and leaves decorating the top? Or package a collection of herbs that you've grown and dried yourself in decorative, matching bottles.

Just a Bouquet!
This is perhaps the simplest gift of all, but it'll be joyfully received. Gather together a batch of blooms and colorful or textured foliage or twigs, place them in a jar and wrap the jar festively, and be sure to present it with a "From My Garden!" tag. Another perfectly-timed-for-the-end-of-the-year gift, especially for cooks, is a handful of rosemary branches -- with their delicate, teeny, blue blossoms -- tied with a ribbon. You can even add your favorite recipe for that garlic-rosemary bread!

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