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Originally published November 28, 2014 at 11:04 AM | Page modified December 15, 2014 at 5:38 PM

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Garden gifts that keep on giving: read, plant, decorate, soothe

Why not shop close to home this holiday season and honor the spirit of gardening while supporting local businesses and artisans.

Special to The Seattle Times


NOTHING IS more local than gardening, a pursuit firmly rooted in place, soil and weather. So why not shop close to home this holiday season and honor the spirit of gardening while supporting local businesses and artisans.

Consider tying a big bow around the newly published second edition of Seattle Tilth’s “Maritime Northwest Garden Guide” (Seattle Tilth, $16.95). The updated edition of this practical, detailed book is probably the most useful and least expensive gift you could give any Northwest gardener. From soil building to sowing herbs under a cloche and raising chickens in the city, this handy paperback is packed with knowledge and detail. The planning, planting and harvest calendar for year-round organic gardening is a treasure tailored specifically for our climate. Now that’s luxury. You can order the guide from Tilth’s webpage ( or find it at local nurseries, bookstores and PCCs.

Garden Essentia is a Shoreline-area retail shop featuring the work of local garden artists. Bothell ceramist Gina Holt fashions her ceramic pieces for use indoors or out. Holt’s Calla Lily Sconce is $72 and sure to please the flower arranger on your list. A black-headed grosbeak adorns a crisp, white birdhouse mirror (13 inches tall; $68). If you’re buying for a recycler, a history buff or just a gardener with a great eye, a trio or more of military screw pickets would make a fine gift. Sold off by the Army as surplus after 1915, these repurposed rusty metal pieces lend patina to the garden. They’re sturdy and tall enough (at 58 inches high) to serve as stakes, fencing or trellising. $25 each. (20152 Ballinger Way N.E.;

Every gardener wants to bring nature indoors, especially this time of year, and Ravenna Gardens at University Village offers a couple of charming twists on houseplants. Topiaries of ivy, rosemary or olive in aged clay pots make surprisingly long-lived gifts ($9 to $38). “They’ll last for years given the right light conditions,” says owner Gillian Matthews. A trio of topiary along with plenty of candles would carry any tablescape through the winter. Matthews also stocks a wide selection of air plants ($4 to $48). These tough little wonders of the world are having a moment. They’re cool, modern looking and easy-care. Who couldn’t keep a plant alive that needs no soil and minimal water? Just in case, tuck in the new book “Air Plants: The Curious World of Tillandsias” (Timber Press, $19.95).

And when it comes to filling a stocking, check out the made-for-men-but-equally-desirable-for-women skin-care products from Fieldworks Supply Co. in Portland. Perfect for gardeners who can’t resist working outdoors even on the coldest days, Weather Ready Hand Repair ($15.99) is a soothing balm for dry, chapped skin; it’s made of calendula, helichrysum and — no kidding — frankincense and myrrh. Then there’s Good Clean Mud, guaranteed to clean even sticky sap, glue and ink, as well as the usual garden grime, off your hands. It’s made of healing bentonite clay, citrus and coconut oil ($14.95). Can you imagine how good that combination of earth and tropics will smell to the lucky gardener on your list? Available locally at Ravenna Gardens (University Village;

There’s a reward for passing up the convenience of online ordering; the very likely chance of finding a few choice items for yourself while perusing shops in search of the perfect gifts for gardening friends and relatives. Happy Holidays to you and yours.

Valerie Easton is a Seattle freelance writer. Check out her blog at

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