’Tis the Season for Giving: Gifts for the Garden on Your Holiday List


by Tom Spencer / Soul of the Garden



I spend a good part of the year rummaging through the local nurseries looking for gifts for my garden. Some may say that I am actually buying these things for myself, which is plainly absurd. They just don’t understand the depth of my commitment to my garden. She has many needs and desires and I am only too happy to oblige. After all, if I don’t buy her presents, who will? Despite my best efforts, there are times when I am shocked at my own insensitivity. How could I have denied her that new Agave for so long? What was I thinking?

My garden has certain preferences when it comes to gifts. I wouldn’t dream of calling her snooty, but she definitely has high standards. There are times when I feel like poor Aunt Gladys, who used to buy me underwear and socks instead of toys for my birthday. I’d accept her “gifts” with a forced smile, but later, I’d “decorate” her pictures in our family album with my crayons. Likewise, my garden may accept a bag of compost or a truckload of mulch, but it keeps looking behind my back to see if I am holding out on the good stuff.

This morning, while I was out for my “second cup of coffee stroll” through the garden, I found a shopping list dangling from the beautiful metal arbor I bought her for our anniversary last year.

“You insensitive biped,” it started, “how do you expect me to meet your needs when you never meet any of mine? What’s up with that? What follows is short list of all the things you should have bought me this past year but didn’t.”

She was right, of course, she always is. So now, I have my assignment and must dash off to our local nurseries. The fate of the holidays is resting on my ability to follow her instructions to a tree, ooops, I mean to a “t.”

The list began, “Remember those beautiful deep-blue glazed pots that you saw at Barton Springs Nursery, the tall square ones? A pair of those is just what I need to add a touch of elegance and symmetry to the entrance of the meditation room. They would match that rounded blue pot that I had to beg you for last year and would just tie everything together. And while you are there, why don’t you buy a pair of Dwarf Agaves to plant in them and some nice smooth river stones to dress the top of the soil.”

My beloved leaves nothing to chance, and she sure does love those Agaves!

“Next,” she added, “swing by The Great Outdoors and get me that Cycad I’ve been pestering you about. Gad, how many times do I have to drop this hint? You know the one I am talking about, Ceratozamia hildae. Oh wait, I forgot, you will need a common name: Bamboo Cycad. Can you remember that?”

Again, her taste is impeccable. This cold-hardy form of Cycad is incredibly graceful, not to mention rare and rather pricey. Once a year I should go beyond the expected bottle of liquid seaweed and buy her something completely over-the-top. She will really know I love her if I get her one of these!

“Okay,” the note continued, “so much for the stocking stuffers, let’s get to the heart of the matter. How much longer do I have to suffer with your cheap chain-store tools? I am tired of my roots being ripped up by wimpy shovels and having my branches mangled by second-rate pruners. Get down to The Natural Gardener and buy some high-quality European tools that you won’t have to replace every year or so.”

How did she know I had gone to a chain store? I was so careful about switching the labels…I won’t make that same mistake this year.

The list continued, “And another thing, why can’t you buy a terracotta container that isn’t off-the-rack? Am I not good enough for the handmade kind? Break the mold, cheapskate, you have no class whatsoever. Get down to Gardens and buy me at least two decent Italian clay pots that don’t look like every other pair on the block. And, while you are there, buy a couple of cute Dwarf Pine Trees to plant in them.”

Classy pottery, it seems, is a garden’s best friend.

At this point I was beginning to get worried about my ability to get everything on my garden’s list. But, she had anticipated everything.

“Don’t even think about ‘waiting until next year’ for any of this stuff,” she added, “I know where you sleep. And while I am on the subject, your choice in wind chimes is just plain annoying. How am I expected to get any rest listening to that out-of-tune clanking all night long? Why don’t you go to Wild Birds Unlimited and get me some nicely tuned wind chimes, preferably something in a minor key? And don’t forget about those new birdfeeders I’ve been nagging you about. All of the A-list birds are flying over to the Henderson’s for food.”

Once again, she had me. The only birds coming to our cheap plastic feeders are a pushy gang of dull-colored sparrows—not exactly the kind of birds you want hanging around. I was embarrassed by my own shortcomings. How could I have let it come to this?

I finally reached the last item on my garden’s list and drew a deep breath in anticipation.

“Oh, and about last year’s holiday decorations,” it started, “couldn’t you do a little better than a few forced Paper Whites and a pot of Pansies? Don’t you think I deserve a nice pair of “Yuletide” Camellias? Now, that would be a gift that keeps on giving. Park Place Gardens is just around the corner, so get going.”

Ahh, the holidays are upon us. Go out and get something special for the garden on your list!


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