As more of us are aiming to live well with less waste, the garden can be a wonderful source of beautiful zero-waste gifts. It probably can't replace the Legos and Barbies for the kids on your list, but it can provide presents for many of the grown-ups, especially those who don't want more stuff in their lives, but who will appreciate something ephemeral.
Here are some ideas:
Herb bouquets, fresh or dried.
Most gardeners in mild climates have some herbs growing somewhere! And most people who cook and eat appreciate the extra flavor of homegrown herbs.
Side note for Californians: If you don't have a Bay Laurel tree yourself, chances are a close neighbor does. You know those bay leaves you buy at the store? There are probably branches of them on your block for free. The tree in our yard is vigorous to the point of being a pest and needs to be pruned back all the time. Your bay owning neighbors will gladly part with a generous amount!
Lots of herbs, including rosemary and mint, will root in a jar of water on the counter. You could either start now to see if you can get them rooted before you give the gift, or clip some sprigs at the last minute and put them in a pretty jar. (This is a reused jar from St Benoit yogurt -- it's worth buying the admittedly quite expensive yogurt sometimes just to get the pretty jar!)
Citrus is a traditional Christmas gift, and if you live in a citrus-growing region, chances are you have some trees with fruit on them at this time of year. Throughout the winter, I like to send Meyer lemons to friends in cold places. You can also make marmalade to make the harvest last longer and travel better. Here's a nice marmalade recipe that includes safe canning instructions.
If you're like me, you probably have a bunch of extra seedlings all the time. Granted, the ones above are for the summer season, but if you've been nurturing along some flowers to plant in the spring perhaps, or you've got some rooted cuttings, they can make a lovely gift for your gardening friends.
Perhaps you saved seeds this year? Or you have a collection of half-used seed packs, with more seeds than you need? Package them up nicely with a note for the gardeners on your list. This has the great advantage of fitting into the envelope with a Christmas card, making it an inexpensive way to send a thoughtful gift to gardeners who are far away.
Do you have any other favorite ways to give gardening gifts? Please share them in the comments below!