Seed packets serve double duty as gifts, remembrance gardens

Wednesday, October 14, 2009 | 4:32 p.m. CDT

Do you like to receive surprises in the mail? Almost everyone sends greeting cards to someone during the year. It is important to remember birthdays and anniversaries of those people who are dear to us. A way to make your card more memorable is to enclose a small packet of seeds for flowers, vegetables or herbs from your own garden. These seeds, when given to friends who are moving, can become the basis of a "remembrance garden" when grown in their new home.

The best time to gather seeds from your favorite plants is late summer or early fall. If kept in a plastic bag, the seeds must be very dry so they won't develop mold or mildew. Be sure to identify the plant and include a description along with it. You may also want to give some information about its culture and how to store the seeds until they are ready for sowing. Plants grown from these seeds will bring friendly wishes for many years to come.

Gifts from the garden are welcome to your gardening friends for just about any occasion. It's a rare person who doesn't like flowers, and if you have a friend with a birthday or other special day coming up, why not give a plant that can be put in the garden or into a container? To make your gift even more special and personal, try spelling your friend's name with the plant's names, choosing an imaginative mix. For example, if your friend's name is Mary you could plant marigolds, alyssum, a miniature rose and a yarrow. Your gift is as creative as your imagination.

If you have young children, they might like to join in on the fun and can help with researching the plants, identifying them and making a personalized gift card. You can wrap it by putting the plants in a pretty basket and adding some gardening gloves and maybe some gardening tools. This will be a gift your friend will remember for a long time to come.

If your friend doesn't have a garden or has difficulty tending one, consider giving a container plant. Container gardens are portable and will readily grow flowers, vegetables and kitchen herbs. Container gardening brings the garden to the gardener and requires less stooping and bending. A container can be placed on a support of any height, such as a sturdy support or pier, for the convenience of the gardener. gardens can also be placed on a sturdy support or pier. Planting in containers creates a contained environment, and soil-borne diseases can be avoided by simply replacing the soil when needed. Plants in containers are easier to inspect for insects and diseases because insects on plants at eye-level are more visible than the same insects at ankle-level.

The variety of plants that can be grown in containers is nearly limitless. The usual bedding plants are suitable; plus, there are varieties of many flowers and vegetables that are especially suited for container gardens. The gardener who has never planted in containers has missed a very special experience and opportunity. Convenience, flexibility and practicality are all to be found in this method of gardening.

Whether you decide to send seeds through the mail or give a plant directly, your thoughtfulness will not only enrich the other person, but will also be good for your own soul. Why not give it a try?

Barbara Michael has been a Master Gardener since 1993 and serves as the Master Gardeners’ liaison to the Community Garden Coalition, in addition to serving on its board. She enjoys container gardening and houseplants. She can be reached at

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