11 December 2006

The season of giving, part 1

It’s that time of year again…when we’re rushing around, madly trying to decide what to give as Christmas gifts to those near and dear to our hearts. Let’s see, we’ll start with a black Christmas tree and lots of black and white decorations, followed by a blue poinsettia…

I’m joking, of course. You already know my opinions on the latest trends in Christmas décor.

What to give as gifts? Well, in my world, of course, almost all things gardening are treasured gifts, both to give and receive. I wrote about some of them in my latest Chronicle Herald column, but that will only be online until next Sunday, and of course I couldn’t include everything that I thought of, or every photo. Mind you, I don’t have a say in which photos get published. So here are a few more suggestions, plus a small bit of self-promotion, which I hope readers will understand. More on that anon.

First off: If you live in or near a city that has a Lee Valley store, there are almost infinite numbers of choices there for great gardening gifts. There are tools of every possible sort, including my absolute favourite, the Korean ho-mi digger.
I LOVE this digger. It acts rather like a tiny plow when you drag it through soil, and it’s marvelous for loosening compacted soil, removing weeds, even digging furrows for dropping seeds in. However, as column readers will remember, it doesn’t handle being run over by a tractor lawnmower at all well. Here’s hoping my better half remembers that he owes me one…

Went into Topiary, a store for gardeners when I was in the always-irritating city of Halifax last week (irritating because of the greed of the parkingnazis in the downtown area, among other things), where I spent a delightful time, selecting gift suggestions to offer others as well as doing a little Christmas shopping. Topiary is a great store, with all sorts of delightful ideas for gardeners. I especially like that they have plenty of wonderful garden art, but also lots of birding ideas; as birding and gardening tend to go hand in hand. My longsuffering spouse ‘bought’ me one of James Chadwick’s metal crows (seen here perching on top of a birdseed wreath, almost too pretty to put out for the birds); I bought it as a business expense but told him he could ‘give’ it to me early. He’s not getting off that easy on the digger, however.

Speaking of birds, if you’re a birdwatcher/birdfeeder, I can highly recommend
For the Birds Nature shop in Mahone Bay. I ordered a gift for my longsuffering spouse from Kelly and Brian via their tollfree number, and it arrived THE NEXT DAY; it’s a perfect gift, too, and while I’m only about 90 minutes drive from Mahone Bay, I knew I wouldn’t have time to get there before Christmas. If you do visit the shop, it’s a delightful place to browse, but you can also browse online and find all their treasures; they offer free shipping, and as noted, it’s FAST!

Here’s my bit of self promotion. As some readers know, I wrote a gardening book last year. The Atlantic Gardener’s Greenbook has received positive reviews and feedback from those who have purchased it—or received it as a gift—and if anyone is unhappy with it, they haven’t let me know yet. You can purchase the book directly from me (so I’ll actually make more than a few pennies from the sale—an ongoing problem that book authors find with royalty payments). You can contact me directly at jodi at bloomingwriter.ca (substitute @ and remove spaces) for details.

Most of us find ourselves with dry, cracked skin during the gardening season—even those gardeners among us who wear gloves when working outside. Is there anyone who can actually work in the garden with their gloves on all the time? I can’t do it, especially when thinning seedlings or planting small plants. So my hands invariably get dirty beyond belief, along with calloused, scratched, full of prickles, and so on. However, I slather on some of Naturally Nancy’s protective cream before I put my gloves on, or before I venture out without gloves (I regularly misplace my garden gloves, but usually find them again—at least, one of them). Nancy is a Nova Scotian landscaper who used to be plagued with terribly dry, cracked hands; so she developed a cream for herself using beeswax from her father’s beekeeping business. The cream worked so well, people began asking for it. It’s used for countless other purposes besides dry garden hands, but you can take my word—it does work. It’s unscented too.

Now, I’m not sensitive to scents, and my favourite scent in the world is lavender—real lavender, that is, not the artificial perfumes developed by so many businesses. That’s why I was so excited to discover Beach Lane Lavender about two years ago. They’re also Nova Scotian owned and operated, and their lavender products, including lip balms and skin creams, are glorious—and truly lavender. I get their Maritime men’s aftershave for my dear other half, and he loves it too—not too flowery, but clean-scented and great on his delicate skin.

A final thought for today. Instead of mailing out Christmas cards this year, I’ve decided to give a gift that really matters. We spend a fair bit on Christmas cards and postage, to say nothing of the time spent writing notes, addressing envelopes, and mailing these out; I’d rather do something that will help someone else. So I’ve decided to purchase meaningful gifts from World Vision; instead of sending cards. 35.00 buys two rabbits; 50.00, two hens and a rooster; and these go to people in developing countries who need our help more than my friends need cards from me. Unlike some charitable organizations that pool their monetary donations even though they say you’re buying X with it, World Vision does genuinely use my donation to put the gifts I purchase into the hands of those who need them.

The only thing not to give as a gardening Christmas gift?

Goutweed, of course.

1 comment:

  1. Greaqt gift suggestions. I've been into Topiary and like there selection of garden and birding stuff. i could spend a lot of money in at Lee Valley too, so I'm glad I live in Truro rather than in Halifax.
    Hope your Christmas is merry and bright!

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