Monday, March 14, 2011

Gifts for the gardener who has everything...

Gardener's Gift Box

Spring means flowers. Where I grew up, spring is loud and obvious. Crocuses push their heads up through crusty snow; daffodils light up dark corners; dead looking trees send out plumes of bright green leaves. When I moved to Arizona, I was quick to say that it had only two seasons: hot and hotter. It took me ten years to appreciate the subtle signs of an Arizona spring. The cactus are putting out little grey nubs, many of which will bloom only briefly and only at night. The desert trees, which have not quite lost their leaves all year, put out some light green, bright green, baby leaves. The flowering bushes are flowering, yellow and purple.

My childhood conditioned me to want to plant things in the spring. I grew up in a place where you just toss the seeds over your shoulder and come back a while later to a surfeit of zucchini, and enough tomatoes to fill a pantry with jars and jars of sauce. A friend of mine back in the Midwest has a compost pile that each year gives her volunteer pumpkins, tomatoes and gourd squash.

Here in the desert, my garden struggles. Maybe I don't give it enough water. I always feel guilty dousing plants with water in the desert; we should be saving water, right? I am sending this awesome Gardener's Gift Box off to Oregon, where I can imagine, guilt-free, the flowers growing. In the box are flattened spoon garden markers and seed bombs.

Smooshed Spoon Garden Markers

My favorite corner of the garden is the herb section. I love to rub the plants in my hands and then smell the rosemary, dill, thyme or oregano on my fingers. Mint, basil, sage. Aaah! I made these smooshed spoon garden markers for the herb section of the garden. I smashed the spoons, then borrowed my tool-loving neighbor's tool marking stamps to write the names of the herbs.

Hummingbird and Butterfly 'Seed Bombs'

So have you heard of guerrilla gardening? It's like guerrilla art, only with flowers. Plant-loving people throw seeds in abandoned corners of public places, or sneak out at night and attach planters in the most unlikely of places. One of the guerrilla gardeners' secret weapons is the seed bomb, a paper blob filled with seeds, which gets thrown in vacant lots. When it rains, the paper absorbs the water and gives the seeds a safe place to germinate. With any luck, there will be a bright spot where once there was rubbish. And this is the perfect time of year for seed bombs.

I used a nationally marketed wildflower seed pack for these 'bombs'. The last thing I'd want to do is gift someone with an invasive species of plant. I shredded newspaper, placed it in the food processor with a generous amount of water and processed it into a pulp, then used a wooden spoon to stir in the seeds. I squeezed/strained the pulp in a flour sack towel, and formed the resulting goop into triangular lumps. (I wanted to use a heart-shaped ice cube tray, but it was ruined and discarded in a Valentine crayon making project.) It took one night for the bombs to dry completely. I would think that if you live in a more humid climate, it would take a little longer. Be warned, if you try this--the newspaper ink stains everything it touches, but it does come off with a bit of detergent and elbow grease.

I think that this project would make a wonderful Easter Basket, hostess gift or Mother's Day present. I hope some of you will give it a try--and let me know how it turns out!


  1. oh this is so dang cute and fun, I love it. Wish I had a neighbor to borrow those tools for the markers though:)

  2. Suzanne, my neighbor says that the trick is to buy the stamps at a hardware store, not at a craft store. She paid about six dollars for her set. I think she said that she got it at Harbor Freight.

  3. this is very cool! Im very impressed with what you are doing here at your blog and i especially like the owl tote you did. I was wondering if you would be interested in being a featured guest blogger at Let me know if you are interested and I will send you more information and set you up on the schedule. Hope to hear from you soon!

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