Holiday help from your garden

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Let your landscape lighten up the season with helpful last-minute gifts, delightful drinks and much-needed peace.

With holiday shopping, baking cookies and a whole-house deep cleaning still on my to-do list, I just might need to excuse myself and step out into the garden for a breath of fresh air and a little help.

A quick escape into the garden can bring more benefits than you might imagine. Here are seven ways gardening can get you through the holidays — and beyond.

  1. Last-minute gift central! Need to bring a little something for someone hosting a holiday party or check a gift for a garden-lover off your list? A beautiful bowl of oranges, bouquet of flowers or potted perennials are fresh, thoughtful presents. Or make wildflower seed balls!
  2. Naturally gorgeous decorations. Deck your door with a cheerful holiday wreath, create natural gift accents or let your eye light upon other decorative possibilities in your own garden to inspire a centerpiece or two. Remember to check for toxicity if you have children or pets.
  3. Swift snacks and delicious drinks at your doorstep. Sometimes the dips and salsas go quickly, and you discover the cilantro is all gone. Just step outside to clip some leaves and you’re ready to go! And herbs like mint, rosemary and culinary lavender add delightful flavors to your holiday drinks.
  4. Exercise! Skipping an exercise class may feel necessary during such a busy season, but you’ll get in those steps and strength training while tidying your garden up before guests arrive.
  5. Express your creativity. Sometimes when life feels chaotic, a little focused time in nature helps. I love taking close-up photos of the pollinators visiting my flowers and I can easily lose track of time while sketching outdoors.
  6. A calm haven. Gardening and spending time in green spaces have beneficial effects on our moods, mental health and physical health. If you’re feeling overwhelmed by your to-do list or houseful of guests, a few minutes in nature can silence the stress.
  7. Feeling social this season? Volunteering with a community garden can be a great way to make friends and learn new skills whether it’s a local vegetable garden or helping maintain pollinator habitat.

If the seasonal whirlwind brings too much stress, feel free to press pause on the holiday movie, sidestep the desserts, and just disappear into the garden for a while with a mug of hot peppermint tea.

Wishing you a holiday season focused on what really counts for you!

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Dwarf Burford holly features the prickly leaves and colorful red berries of its parent, in a small form useful in formal landscapes.