Christmas is upon us this week, I have recently added another birthday notch to my leather belt, and now we stand upon the brink of another long, cold winter.  Of the three statements, the first is the only one to bring me any joy, not least of all because my Christmas shopping is done and I am free to enjoy the next few days baking mince pies, drinking copious amounts of sherry and refreshing the advent wreath with new greenery from the garden.

dogwood berryHowever, if you, like my husband, have left your shopping until the very last moment (when will that man learn?), you may be panicking right about now. Fear not. If you are also lucky enough to be the spouse, child, sibling, parent or significant other of a gardener, you are luckier than most. The Christmas Present Problem is absolutely solvable.

Gardeners are cheap.  We’re resourceful.  We know how to re-use things and make do.  We very rarely spend money on a gadget for ourselves, knowing we can construct something that will do the job just as admirably (if perhaps not as quickly).

We like to spend money on plants of course, but even then, we try to spend within reason (or at least tell you that we are). Long story short, we’re easy – and we’re especially easy if you’ve demonstrated a level of understanding for our ridiculous obsession by giving us something that is garden-themed and above all else, useful.

Think back over the last season as you sipped your cool drink on the deck and bemusedly watched an insane person in the shrubbery battling soil and sweat for hours at a time.  Taking a moment here will instantly connect you with the perfect present.

Did you watch us groaning over a particular job such as raking leaves?  Battery operated leaf blower.  Have you seen us valiantly struggling with shears on a twenty foot hedge? Hedge-cutting attachment.  Are we forever misplacing our pruners? How about a second pair Do we embarrass you with burn barrel holes in our work jacket? Clothing section of Tractor Supply. Do we bemoan the loss of fresh flowers for the house? Amaryllis bulb. Make it two. Are we always thirsty? Stainless steel thermal flask. Do we complain of ugly nails and chapped hands? Finally, a valid use for those cellophane-wrapped gift baskets.

Problem solved. Consider yourselves lucky – it’s not so easy for those of us who actually ARE gardeners.  We no longer understand those who don’t garden and we desperately want them to experience our religious fervor.  We ask ourselves, “Why would a tween want a new X-box when he could have his own set of gardening tools and the glory of the great outdoors?” And we’re 100% serious.

So we give our friends books on gardening. We give our children mini-gloves and seed packets. We gift our mother-in-law with a prized sasanqua camellia.  And we give our tween that tool box.

Oh, we see the blank faces on Christmas morning. We recognize the tight smiles. We hear the half-hearted statements “I’m definitely going to use this

[insert amazing garden gadget] next spring” and know that the only use it will get is when we borrow it.  In short, we know your truth, we just don’t understand it.

Yet we’ll keep trying, because we also recognize something else when we see it: that little spark of interest in a child’s eye, or the deep desire of a friend to create something incredible in his front yard. We know there are burgeoning gardeners out there that just need a little shove in the right direction, and we are not above using the holiday season to gift-wrap it.

Thankfully, gift giving is not the only thing we should be doing at this time of year.  Eat! Drink! Be Merry! And, whether you consider yourself a gardener, or are merely attached to one, I wish you a wonderful holiday season and a prosperous (and beautifully green) year ahead!

For more last minute gift ideas (or perhaps some after-season deals), check out this and this.

Reprinted with permission by The Frederick News Post