Last week, we explored the “Upscale” category of gifts for the gardener and planned to explore three more categories: Kitsch, Junktique, and Living.
To some, Kitsch gifts might be seen as tasteless, aesthetically deficient, and excessively sentimental; the flipside of this category is “cute” or perhaps “charming,” depending on individual tastes. This is the category found in many garden centers and garden catalogs, with few exceptions. We mind find cartoon-like pottery figures of animals, gnomes and pixies, whirligigs, clever signs and labels (“So many weeds, so little Thyme”) and the like. Visit ongardening.com for current kitsch-links.
Kitsch-y items typically lack the enduring appeal of fine art. That quality might be seen as a shortcoming, but by encouraging turnover it serves the popular thirst for new experience.
The Junktique category includes recycled items, primarily. This is where we find items like bowling balls and wine bottles as garden decorations; discarded boots, children’s wagons, sinks and toilet bowls as plant containers; bicycles and ladders as focal points.
The best-known junktique in the garden is the bottle tree, created by mounting bottles (wine, usually) on a branched apparatus of some kind. The practice of displaying empty bottles in the garden originated centuries ago, when some believed glass bottles would trap the night’s hostile spirits, which would be destroyed by the morning light. Reportedly, African slaves brought the practice to North American.
We are still searching for the dramatic histories of other garden junktique.
Finally, the Living category focuses on plants and personal services. When gifting plants, consider these guidelines:
- Avoid the commonplace (garden centers display ornamental kale in the fall, but there are other options, really);
- Respect the recipient’s priorities (it’s helpful when gardeners mention their horticultural cravings);
- Offer to install larger plants (even a bare-root fruit tree will thrive under a friend’s helping hand).
For some gardeners, an offer of timely assistance will be the ultimate gift. Here are suggested guidelines.
- Offer services that you are qualified to perform (all aspects of gardening require knowledge and skill, and the garden owner rules in setting standards)
- Offer services that the gardener wants. (Hauling will be welcomed; plant selection probably not; weeding is great if the giver recognizes weeds)
- Deliver the promised services on time.
Visit ongardening.com for more about gifts for gardeners, and additional categories, e.g., useful tools, books for reference or inspiration, and artworks to enhance—or compete with—the natural environment.
People reveal themselves through their gardens, which will show if the owner values great craftsmanship, short-lived “stuff,” frugality, exceptional plants or meticulous care. Let such revelations guide the gift-giver.
Their gardens also will reveal if they are not gardeners, in which case the gift-giver might consider other categories of gifts.
Enjoy this season for garden rejuvenation and development, and for gift giving.
Your favorite gardener will appreciate and value a gift of your time and horticultural talents. Such gifts respond to the spirit of the season, uniquely supportive of personal relationships, and good for the garden as well.
Still, there are many other gifts that most gardeners will desire and welcome. If your gardening friend is making do with worn-out tools or without the right tools for the task, a well-chosen, well-made tool might be exactly “on target.” Visit your local garden center or shop on line to find tools that meet the recipient’s needs and fall within the giver’s budget.
Many excellent gardening books also are available. Again, this is a gift category that succeeds best when it aligns well with the recipient’s informational needs and reading preferences. A good strategy for selecting a gift book is to visit the website of the American Horticultural Society to review its recommendations. The AHS itself has published several very good books, recognizes the best books of each year, and lists the 75 Great American Garden Books.
In the Kitsch category, visit the Blue Fox Farm website, which presents a list of “Funny Quotes for Rustic Garden Signs.” These sayings are not available as garden signs, but the website includes information on how to make your own signs with the saying of your choice (scroll to the bottom of the page).