Regional Gardening Reports :: National Gardening Association

In the Garden:
Southwestern Deserts
November, 2008
Regional Report

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Red pansies add a different twist for holiday centerpieces and can be popped in the garden afterwards.

Holiday Gifts from the Gardener

It's your choice: Sharpen your elbows in preparation for wading through competitive shoppers hunting bargains on Black Friday, or relax in your garden, potting shed, or favorite nursery while concocting homegrown gifts for folks on your list. Assuming you choose the latter, here are a few very simple, inexpensive ideas to get the creative juices flowing.

Plant a Salad Bar (or Bowl)
Sow a colorful mesclun mix. Salad greens will continue producing until hot weather arrives. For gourmets on your list, sow a single specialty green, such as arugula or tatsoi. A wide, shallow container works fine for salad greens' shallow roots and allows more plants that a narrow, deep container. Attach the seed packet to a plant stake and stick it in the pot. Consider the recipient's physical ability. Perhaps they would appreciate a lightweight pot or a container on a wheeled dolly that can be moved easily as sun exposure changes.

Alternative to Poinsettia
Pop a container of happy-faced red pansies or red-hot chili peppers into a pretty ceramic pot as a cheerful red and green centerpiece that can move outdoors after the holidays. It shows a little more thought went into your gift than the ubiquitous poinsettia!

Citrus Basket
If you are one of those lucky people with more citrus on your tree than you can consume, fill a wicker basket with fresh-picked fruit and tie on a festive bow. Trust me, those of us who don't have room for a citrus tree would love your leftovers! Include a juicer or bottle of champagne or champagne flutes with a recipe for mimosas. If you have many trees with tons of fruit, don't let the crop go to waste. Add an invitation for a gleaning party to take place after the New Year.

Decorate a Pot
Gardeners never have enough pots. (I said pots, plural.) Paint a container with festive colors or cover one with mosaic tile or decoupage, whatever grabs your artistic fancy. Add an aromatic herb such as rosemary or thyme and attach your favorite foolproof recipe using that herb. (Assuming you don't want to imply your friends are fools, label your recipe "tried and true" or "Granny's favorite.")

Evergreen Trimmings
My parents always sent me cedar trimmings before the holidays, and I loved the aroma wafting out when I opened the box. If you live where evergreens thrive, and are trimming lightly to forestall winter storm damage, don't let those aromatic branches go to waste. Tie up a spray of cedar, pine, fir or holly, which can be incorporated into just about any decor for the holidays.

Garden Membership
Give a membership or annual pass to your local botanical garden, arboretum, state park, or nature center. Check their calendar of events for classes and workshops that would appeal to your friends and give them a gift certificate to attend (with or without you). Design a colorful invitation on the computer for an outing and picnic to your area's local gardening gem.

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