As a child, one of my favorite Christmas stories was a book about a family that brought a living Christmas tree into their apartment, only to have it grow up to the ceiling and through holes they cut in both of their upstairs neighbors’ floors, bringing joy and new friendships to all three families. Magical potted Christmas trees notwithstanding, gardening is a hobby that brings joy and grows friendships as well as plants. Whether you have someone on your Christmas list who has gardened for years or may be stretching their green thumb for the first time, here are some gift ideas to help grow that passion.
First, winter can be a tough time for those of us who like to garden outdoors, with short days and drizzly weather limiting both a gardener’s enthusiasm and plants’ ability to grow. One species, though, thrives in winter: hellebores. These shade-loving evergreen plants bloom in the darkest days of winter, providing a splash of color in the garden when it needs it most. And like hydrangeas, heuchera, and hostas, hellebores have become something of a collector item with an incredible number of varieties on the market today, meaning once you’ve had one hellebore in your yard, you’re almost sure to want several more.
Two of my favorite newer hellebore varieties this winter are ‘Cheryl’s Shine,’ with large pink flowers, and ‘Ice ‘N Roses Early Red’ with beautiful burgundy flowers and glossy dark green foliage. Available budded and blooming at local garden centers now through early spring, hellebores make a great living gift the recipient can enjoy for years to come.
Another plant to enjoy this time of year is amaryllis, a winter-blooming bulb for growing indoors that boasts large flowers atop sturdy stems. While amaryllis are easy to grow, a recent innovation has made them even more carefree: wax.
Amaryllis bulbs dipped in wax make a great conversation piece—with their attached wire stand, they can sit on your kitchen counter, fireplace mantle or coffee table and will grow and bloom with no water or soil required. Add them to your Christmas décor for a living accent or give them as a fun hostess gift and watch the plant grow and bloom with no additional care.
Aside from plants, there are plenty of other gifts you can give to help foster a love of gardening. One of my favorites is Deadheads, an aptly named snips designed for removing spent flowers. Great for light duty jobs, Deadheads rest easily in the palm of your hand and make deadheading fast and easy.
For other pruning jobs, from harvesting flowers and vegetables to serious springtime cleanup, we gardeners use our pruners as much or more than any other tool. For that reason, a high-quality pair of pruners made with parts that can be repaired or replaced makes an excellent gift. Felco is my brand of choice, and while they’re not cheap, the fact that I can easily disassemble my pruners to clean and sharpen it means I have a hand pruner that is always ready for the job at hand and will serve me well for years if not decades.
Finally, if you enjoy gardening, share that joy with the next generation by putting some kid-sized garden tools under the Christmas tree this year. No other hobby lends itself to such lifelong enjoyment as gardening, from a two-year old’s fascination with picking her first carrot to a 92-year old caring for flowers on her apartment deck. So, pass along the joy you’ve found in gardening this Christmas by giving your favorite junior gardener their own set of garden tools or even just a kid-sized rake or shovel.
Much like that Christmas tree in my childhood storybook, gardening itself is a gift that truly keeps on growing. Enjoy sharing the wonder of watching things grow by giving a gardening gift this Christmas!