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Need holiday gifts? “Shop” your garden!

By Katie Jackson

If you’re trying to find locally sourced, distinctive and affordable gifts this holiday season, here’s an idea: “shop” your garden.

Gardens are, after all, about as local as you can get, plus they are stocked with gift ideas likely to suit everyone on your shopping list. 

For example, foodies will relish fresh herbs, vegetables, fruits, nuts and edible flowers and seeds that may still be growing in your garden. Use herbs, edible flowers and fall fruits and vegetables to make batches of giftable jams, jellies, pickles, oils, vinegars, sauces, salsas and the like. You can also use them to create herbal teas, seasoning mixes and rubs, simple syrups, juices and ciders, or use them to infuse garden flavor into baked goods and liqueurs and other spirits. If fresh items are unavailable, those canned, dried, frozen or fermented vegetables and fruits you put up this summer will be equally appreciated. 

Pamper someone on your gift list by using herbs, flowers and other garden crops to make soaps, scrubs, lotions and bath oils and salts. Or use them to create useful products such as sachets, potpourris, air freshening sprays and other household and cleaning supplies. 

For the decorator types on your list, leaves, flowers and seeds make beautiful dried arrangements or can be pressed to create frameable botanical art. They can also be used to embellish or imprint candles, stationery, stepping-stones, clay pots, journals and much more. Vines can become wreaths, baskets and sculptures, and foliage and flowers can be used to wrap or decorate holiday gifts.

Nature lovers will likely appreciate crafts and decorations made from cones, acorns, nuts, leaves, bark and dried produce (think okra and gourds, for instance) gathered from your garden and yard. For bird and wildlife lovers, many of those same items can be turned into wildlife feeders such as cones rolled in suet, nut butters and seeds. 

For sustainability-focused folks on your list, upcycle old rakes, shovels, trowels and other garden tools into holiday decorations or year-round yard art. Gently used tomato cages can be woven with foliage, lights, ribbons, vines and other adornments to create a festive holiday tree. Silverware, dishes, chains and even plastic bottles and other household items can be repurposed into wind chimes, rain chains, plant markers, birdfeeders and more. 

Use your DIY and craft skills to revive old baskets, watering cans, buckets, wheelbarrows, pots, aprons and work shirts into something fun and functional. Or go uber-DIY and build potting or park benches, plant stands, cold frames, trellises or bird houses and pollinator hotels as gifts.

Need gifts for fellow gardeners? That’s really easy! Share mature plants, rooted cuttings, seeds and bulbs from your garden, or use extra herbs, succulents, cacti and other plants to create terrariums and potted plant collections. And you can really thrill them with a bag — or truckload — of pine straw, leaves or compost. 

If your garden’s giftable stock is low at the moment, no worries. Give IOUs for future harvests of flowers, herbs, produce, seeds, bulbs and cuttings as gifts. You can also make a gift of your gardening knowledge by offering to advise or mentor a novice gardener or by volunteering your muscle and time to help cleanup someone’s garden and landscape. Better yet, invite someone into your garden for a visit or a little quiet time. 

Need more ideas or inspiration? Look for local workshops, or find ideas and instruction online, in magazines and in books such as The Crafty Gardener: Inspired Ideas and DIY Crafts from Your Own Backyard by Becca Anderson or Gifts from the Garden:100 Gorgeous Homegrown Presents by Debora Robertson.