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Celebrate a gardener's holiday

December 01, 2009|By ANNETTE IPSAN / Special to The Herald-Mail

Celebrate your green thumb in style this holiday season with everything from decor to gifts.

Bring the garden indoors with plants, plants and more plants. Start some amaryllis bulbs or paperwhites. Bank poinsettias in a bay window. Top a delicate cyclamen with a gardening cloche. Or delight in the opening blooms of a Christmas cactus or orchid. These plants will add beauty and satisfy your need to play in the dirt.

Go natural for decorations. Snip some holly or evergreen boughs, and stuff them in baskets and pots. Add some winterberry or curly willow branches for flair. Fill a pottery bowl with pine cones. Weave yarrow, babies breath, statice and other dried flowers into wreaths, swags and arrangements. Stuff an antique pitcher with an armful of lunaria's silvery seed pods.

Take a walk through a meadow with your clippers and a big basket, and discover an abundance of interesting grasses, seed pods and natural forms to enhance your holiday decorating. Leave them natural or dust them lightly with a bit of gold or silver spray paint for holiday sparkle.

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Next, add a few purchased decorations that mirror your passion for gardening.

Tie tiny copper watering can ornaments onto your tree. Use zinc or copper plant markers as gift tags. And, just for fun, decorate a child's holiday tree with brightly colored kids' gardening gloves and tools you can later donate to a local school garden.

Gifts for gardeners are a breeze. Give hand-softening soaps and lotions. Wrap a bunch of fresh holly in festive tissue. Pot an amaryllis bulb or other plant in a handsome pot. Look for classic garden jewelry with blossoms cast in silver or gold. Or give a gift from your garden like homemade pesto, a rooted cutting from a houseplant or seeds collected from a favorite plant.

Are you crafty? Then indulge your artistic side to create homemade gifts with a gardener's touch. I often give friends and family tins filled with lavender cookies made with lavender from my garden. I've received potpourri from friends' gardens, as well as dried bunches of flowers and potted herbs. Handcrafted gifts are hands-down favorites in my family.

I can hear the guys out there saying, "Enough with the girly stuff, whatcha got for me?" Tools, dudes. Check out the local garden centers first, then hit the catalogs. Two of my favorites are Lee Valley (www.leevalley.com or 1-800-267-8735) and Gardener's Supply Co. (www.gardeners.com or 800-876-5520.)

They have quality tools and other garden gear. I always include a few things from each catalog in my list for Santa.

Whether yours is a homemade or store-bought holiday, make your home and gifts beautiful reflections of your passion for gardening.

Annette Ipsan is the Extension educator for horticulture and the Master Gardener program in Washington County for the University of Maryland Extension. She can be reached weekdays by telephone at 301-791-1604, or by e-mail at aipsan@umd.edu

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