Holiday Giving

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(HOST) Commentator Henry Homeyer has a creative solution to the holiday gift giving dilemma.

(HOMEYER) As the holidays approach, many of us get frantic about what to buy for our loved ones, and gardeners are no exception. It would be easy to go online, or to search the catalogs. Let’s see…a rain gauge for Aunt Sue, a garden sundial for Erin, perhaps a coffee table book about shade gardens for Karen. Enter credit card number. Click, click, shopping’s done.

I don’t know about you, but I don’t really need any more “stuff”. Nor do most gardeners I know. This year instead of giving garden geegaws I’m making certificates that read, “Good for an hour – or 2 or 3 – of my time in your garden.”

I’d love to receive such a gift. Most of us don’t need “things” so much as time with loved ones and help with our gardens in season. Some of my best memories are of times I spent as a small boy with my grandfather in his garden. He worked, and I was only vaguely helpful, but we talked and he told corny jokes.

We all get behind on weeding, or have a project that would be easier with help. For example, removing a stump might seem impossible to a frail octogenarian, but might seem like a good challenge to me – and an excuse to spend time with a friend. I get discouraged by grasses that invade my flower beds. It would be faster – and more fun – taking on the job with another gardener.

I like to joke about giving loved ones a truckload of manure. But for most gardeners, I suspect a load of compost would be wonderful. For starters, we all need more. And it keeps the money spent in our local economy, putting it in the pocket of farmers. And, like shopping online, it keeps you out of the gridlock and long lines at the malls. Most farmers don’t have time to make a fancy gift certificate, but you can make one with a proviso stating “delivery when needed.”

Last year I got a gift certificate to a garden center. It was a wonderful gift. Not glitzy, but I thought of my friend every time I bought a plant or a bag of my favorite organic fertilizer. I know which plants I got with it, and will think of my friend every time they bloom.

I don’t give potted plants as presents. That’s sort of like giving a puppy without asking first. Most gardeners already have enough indoor plants and are reluctant to throw one away, even after it’s done blooming. But if I were to get a gift certificate at my local florist, I’d be delighted. That way, just when spring seems a million miles away, I could go and get some bright red tulips or a cluster of daffodils that speak loudly of the warm sunny days ahead.

Wishing you and yours a joyful holiday season. This is the gardening guy, Henry Homeyer, in Cornish Flat, NH.

Henry Homeyer is a gardening writer and columnist. He spoke from our studio in Norwich.

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