The GardenRant Handmade Gift Extravaganza


It’s time for our annual round-up of handmade garden-related gift ideas, many of them made by our readers.  I offer you this in the spirit of opposing the mass-produced, the deeply-discounted, the imported-and-exported, the plastic, the impersonal, the disposable, and the soon-to-be-obsolete.  This is a good time of year to reject all of that.  If you want to send someone a nice gift, why not put a few bucks in the pocket of an artist/craftsperson?  Why not give something small and meaningful and handmade?

So.  A couple weeks ago, we invited you to post links to the stuff you make.  Here’s a round-up of what you suggested, along with a few other things I just happen to like.  Our one exception to the “handmade” rule was for photographers and other artists selling calendars or notecards of their work.  Sure, it’s mass-produced, or printed on demand, in much the way a book would be, but we give lots of love to books throughout the year and not nearly enough to photographers and painters.  So here goes:

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First of all, Dirt Couture sells a lovely selection of exactly the kind of thing we’re talking about–handmade garden-ish gifty things.  Like this wine bottle torch for thirty bucks.  Yes, please!2 slugs

Dirt Couture also sells hand-forged tools by actual blacksmiths, these super-warm and very practical liners for your muck  boots— plus handmade soap, botanical jewelry–all that stuff.  Oh, and succulents!  Check them out.

And before we get too deep into our list, I also want to point out this particularly nice feature on Etsy–in addtion to searching by medium, subject, etc, you can search by zip code.  So you’re buying on the Internet, but hey!  You’re still supporting some local artist.  Just for fun, I did a search for Elizabeth’s hometown of Buffalo, NY and came across this artist who makes lovely botanical greeting cards.  See?

Okay, on with our suggestions from readers:


I love these limited edition pillows from Garden Therapy, using flowers they grew themselves, photographs they took themselves, etc. etc.  These are actually printed with the same glicee printing process used for fine art prints, and do require some care, such as hand-washing.  Really lovely!


Here’s a guy who makes silly birds out of old garden tools and then paints them with auto paint.  He’s a retired tool and machine repairman; our commenter is a friend who helps him sell them. How great is that?  I just really want there to be retired guys welding stuff together in the garage and friends who help get them out into the world. Benjamin

Friend of Rant Benjamin Vogt is one hell of a photographer, as demonstrated by the fine prints available in his Etsy store.  (You can also buy his books there, btw).

And speaking of Friends of Rant and the beautiful art they make, garden writer and Queen of Succulents Debra Lee Baldwin has a beautiful calendar for sale on Zazzle of her Debra calendarwatercolors. Wow, is she ever an amazing painter!  Who knew?  (Oh, and she has other stuff–mugs, postage stamps, notecards, etc.)


Oh– calendars–yes, there are more!   Our friend Carol of May Dreams Gardens has her Garden Hoe Calendar for sale on CafePress.  A hoe a month!  Ho ho ho!  And Craig at Ellis Hollow–you know those breathaking and mysterious scanned flower images, right?  Here’s your 2012 version.

Here’s another Etsy offering, and may I just say:  OH MY GOD THESE THINGS ARE AMAZING.  Concrete “vessels”–you decide what you’re going to use them for–made with hand-rolled bits of different colored concrete.  Not painted.  And beautiful.   This one, for instance, could be a birdbath.  Or imagine them as very outdoorsy platters for your patio table.  Or who knows, maybe you can grow succulents on them.  I don’t know, I just know that they are super-cool and unusual and clearly made by someone with a lot of skill and talent.  In Norman, OK. Go, Deborah Brackenbury!


Here’s one I think a certain Saratoga Springs gardener would enjoy–the Organic Seed of the Month Club!  For a mere forty bucks, you are promised a monthly seed packet of some rare, heirloom, seasonally appropriate vegetable or herb.  How cool is that?

Joe Papendick makes incredibly cool metal bird feeder sculptures. Love these.


Small paintings of bees done on salvaged plywood!  In Sonoma County, CA!  Some are already sold, some have a Buy Now button–go check that out here.

And here’s a handmade tool called a hoedag, which sells on the Dirt Couture site for only thirty bucks and is handmade by a guy whose dad came up with the design.  Our friend Kathy Purdy says it’s her favorite tool.

Well, folks, these are just the highlights.  You can read all the responses to our original post here. Mostly, though, we hope you’ll be inspired to put a little money in the pocket of an artist this year, and to give something real to someone real. Get to it.



  1. Right on Amy!
    I wrote a similar post
    Before running off to the mall to load up on foriegn-made gifts or jumping on your computer to order from a large on-line retailer, check out your local retailer! Giant Asian factories have provided Americans with monstrous piles of cheaply-produced goods — merchandise that has been produced at the expense of American labor — and sold in monstrous stores like Walmart that continue to devour local stores and shopkeepers.

    Start a new tradition, buy local.
    Give gifts that will help your fellow Americans!
    Help create a movement of caring about each other
    Buy locally-grown produce and foods at farm stands instead of supermarkets, where the food travels from overseas.
    While shopping, patronize local restaurants instead of corporate chains.

  2. Some really creative and wonderful items!

    I know I’m coming into this at the very last minute and too late to be included….but I do have a wonderful self published 2012 Tomato Growing Guide and Calendar – advertised on this page. It tells you what to do in your tomato garden each month so it’s much more than a calendar. I hope you’ll click on the link and check it out. Thanks!

  3. Hi Amy – & Jim! Thanks for including my cards in your list! And thank you for highlighting great handmade items. The concrete “vessels” are amazing. And I have to get that bird feeder – wow, that is really cool!

  4. Thanks so much for including Garden Therapy Handmade. So wonderful to be included with talented artists. I do hope that people support handmade this holiday, the world is a beautiful place when surrounded by art!


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