I don’t usually write about holiday gift ideas, but I figure this year (being the unending grind that it’s been) calls for an exception.
We can all use as much joy as we can get right now, so I thought I’d share with you some of my favorite ‘finds’ this year, in hopes they make you (or someone on your gift list) smile!
My husband gave me this Click and Grow last Christmas, and I’ll be honest – my first thought was ‘huh?’
I couldn’t figure out why he thought I’d need this, since 1) I have a pretty large garden where I can easily plant whatever I want, and 2) I’m pretty sure I’ve never expressed interest in a growing light!
I’m so glad I kept my bah-humbug thoughts to myself because after using it, I’m a huge fan.
One reason I love this is the Click ‘n Grow makes it super simple for me to grow a few things in the house when I’m unable to garden outside.
And as we all know, our green thumbs get a little twitchy starting in February when we’re counting the days we can go outside to garden again.
I also have a north-facing home, which means I have very few brightly lit windows that make growing anything from seed next to impossible.
Whenever I’ve tried, the light-starved seedlings get lankier and lankier, finally collapsing into a sad little heap.
The compact size of the Click and Grow, with low-profile grow lights, means it easily fits into smaller, darker spaces – like my mudroom, here in this pic.
And finally (and maybe most importantly,) it’s super easy to use, requiring very little from me.
I only need to refill the water every 3 or 4 weeks, and the lights are on a timer, so I just set it and forget it!
Included with my gift was a starter-seed kit with tomatoes and basil. I knew the basil would do well (which it did – quickly growing, then tripling in size when I planted it in my garden once it warmed up), but the tomatoes were a surprise success, too.
Bearing tiny tomatoes in their little pods, once I planted them in the garden, they continued to grow, giving me loads of tiny little flavor-bombs for several months.
This year, I’m excited to plant a few seeds from plants that I can’t easily find in nurseries.
One will be a double-feverfew that we discovered this summer in our Lake Tahoe garden, and the other will be seeds gathered from the most beautiful red poppies that were growing wild in a neighbor’s garden.
I’m going to try growing them in regular peat-pots that I have on hand. They seem to fit fairly well in the unit so fingers crossed they’ll work.
My daughter has since purchased a smaller Click and Grow for her apartment, and now she and her boyfriend are hooked.
It’s the perfect set up for apartments and new gardeners.
It not only fosters the garden-bug (which, as you may recall, is something I’ve tried to encourage for years – click here, and here, and here) but it also encourages cooking at home. A win-win, for sure!
I designed a garden for this artist many years ago, and we’ve since become good friends.
No longer living in the Bay Area, she now lives in Washington’s Bainbridge Island, where her artistic talent has exploded. She shows her work in various galleries in her area, as well as online here.
I have two of her paintings and just love them.
You can see one of my paintings in this photo of my bookcase, in the middle of the top shelf.
Yes, I could’ve taken a close-up, but if you’re like me, it’s kind of fun to look inside someone else’s home (plus, I wanted to show you how perfect the smaller sized paintings fit into almost any space.)
I keep my other painting here, tucked in behind two of my favorite antique Toby Jugs.
Yes, they’re silly and a little weird (the jugs, not the paintings!) but I just love these guys!
Gigi’s artistic style, her subject matter (I love her crow series!) and the smaller sizes of the paintings all make for very meaningful gifts that anyone would love to receive!
As I’ve written about before, Foxgloves are some of my favorite pair of gloves, perfect for delicate tasks when you need to ‘feel’ what you’re doing.
To refresh your memory, click here to read my review.
I wanted to mention them again, as they’re a fantastic gift for the gardener in your life. Or you. Or both. 😉
Plus, they’re super easy to ship, and they fit right into a Christmas stocking, too!
I’m a hand-lotion addict, with about a million various lotions placed throughout my house. And I’m picky, too.
No off-putting, sickly-sweet scents allowed, and if they’re the least bit sticky or oily, they’re outta here.
So I’m thrilled to tell you about one of my favorites, EO Lotions, which is not only reasonably priced but is organic, local, family-run, and made in a zero-waste company. WOW!
I first tried their lotion when my husband and I snuck away for a weekend in Mill Valley. Our hotel carried their products in each room – such a wonderful surprise versus the typical sub-par hotel samples usually found in hotel rooms.
I’ve since tried several of their lotions, with the Lavender, Orange Blossom, and Grapefruit-Mint scents being my favorites of all.
And just a few weeks ago, I discovered their lavender-scented hand sanitizer at our local Sprouts grocery store and loved it.
Boy, has this been the perfect year for reading books, or what! I’ve read so many garden books this year, but have pared my list down to my top 3 favorites:
Nature Into Art: The Gardens at Wave Hill, by Thomas Christopher
I was so excited to read this book, as Wave Hill is one of my favorite public gardens EVER (click here to read about my 2016 visit)
This isn’t just a coffee table book (though I must admit, it looks pretty great on my coffee table!), but is filled with inspirational photos from 26 different areas of the garden and the lessons learned along the way. It’s the next best thing to visiting this world-renowned garden in person.
Whoa! I bought this book at the list price of $40, and I see it’s now on sale for almost half at $25 – not sure how long that’ll last, but it’s a fantastic price!
Oh, how I wish I had this book when I was going through my year of chemotherapy. Sick or not, however, it’s a sweet and touching story about the author’s intimate relationship with the common snail. After reading this book, trust me – you’ll think twice about callously killing them in your garden.
This description says it best:
Elisabeth Tova Bailey shares an inspiring and intimate story of her encounter with a common woodland snail. While an illness keeps her bedridden, Bailey watches a wild snail that has taken up residence on her nightstand. As a result, she discovers the solace and sense of wonder that this mysterious creature brings and comes to a greater understanding of her own place in the world. Intrigued by the snail’s molluscan anatomy, cryptic defenses, clear decision making, hydraulic locomotion, and courtship activities, Bailey becomes an astute and amused observer, offering a candid and engaging look into the curious life of this under-appreciated small animal.
When designing gardens, creating unusual and engaging layers is a huge part of my process. For me, it’s all about creating harmonious moments throughout the seasons, from the lowest layer to the tops of the trees.
So after hearing David Culp give a presentation at this year’s Northwest Flower & Garden Show, and hearing first-hand how funny, engaging, and informational he is, I just had to buy a copy for myself.
In a nutshell, the author delves into the evolution of his jaw-dropping Pennsylvania garden, offering loads of inspiration for creating year-round layers in any size.
No matter what part of the country you garden in, David’s garden illustrates design principles and ‘a-ha’ moments that are easy to comprehend, allowing you to implement them in your own garden.
It’s mission is to donate ‘gently used’ bouquets of flowers to people who need them most – those in healthcare facilities such as nursing homes and hospitals.
Random Acts of Flowers improves the emotional health and well-being of individuals in healthcare facilities by delivering recycled flowers, encouragement, and personal moments of kindness.
Even though there may not be a location near you, it’s still easy enough to donate.
Just click here, choose a location (Indiana, Tennessee, or Florida), and click the ‘donate’ button.
I hope I’ve given you a few gift ideas, either for yourself or others, and would love to hear from you – is there anything YOU’D recommend?
Several readers have mentioned Wild Jules Seed Balls as a gift. How have I never tried these before??? This is just one of the reasons I SO appreciate everyone’s comments – we all learn so much from each other.
One reader’s glowing review is enough to convince me to add them to my holiday list:
I’ve been using and gifting Wild Jules seed balls for years. What a great selection of California and western state wildflowers in an easy to plant package – the clay and compost seed ball! I’ve had great success with all the CA poppy and Milkweed varieties. I gift the locally endemic Showy Milkweed (Asclepias speciosa) and Narrowleaf Milkweed (Asclepias fascicularis) seed balls mostly to help Monarch butterflies gain more habitat so that my grandchildren won’t have to see them only in a picture book!
Affiliate Links: Over the years, I’ve tried tons of garden-related products and only recommend those I truly believe in and those that have held up well in my garden.