A gardening gift basket is a lovely, personalized gift for the special gardener in your life. These creative bundles of essentials and indulgences are fantastic ways to celebrate Mother’s Day, Father’s Day, Easter, Summer Solstice, birthdays, or weddings.
Every gift basket is unique, and is something you put together for someone special. But while you may know that Aunt May is longing for a garden gnome and new gloves, filling in the corners of her gift basket takes a bit of imagination. So here are a few fantastic fillers: items that won’t just fill space but fill the recipient’s heart as well!
Obviously, there has to be a container of some kind. The point is to give a lovely, useful one. Don’t throw everything in just any old basket unless you want to see that basket auctioned off at the next family reunion. A solid, woven basket with a sturdy handle is ideal. Make sure it’s strong enough to fill with potatoes, and pretty enough to transport scones to the fourth of July picnic.
While I prefer baskets, you’re not limited to them. You can use a large terra cotta pot, an open watering can, or even a small wheelbarrow as your container. Just remember that your gift basket should be full—brimming over with generous delights. If you choose to use a wheelbarrow, fill that bucket up!
1. Small Basket Ideas
Fill small gift baskets with smaller items like soaps, salves, seeds, and shears. Avoiding adding in items that will overwhelm the container. Small gift baskets should be easy to carry, without a tower of teetering terra cotta pots or a top-heavy plant.
2. Large Basket Fillers
Contain smaller items in a planter to keep them from getting lost. Use larger, brightly hued items to fill space and soften the edges. Large baskets can look overwhelming if they’re all one color, without organic material like plants, soil, or even animals to draw the eye.
It’s the Little Things
The tiny items in your gift basket are some of the most important ones. Whether the basket is large or small, make sure the little things speak volumes!
3. Soaps and Salves
A good gardening soap is absolutely essential! Pick one with a lot of scrubbing power and a nice scent. If it doesn’t have an attractive wrapper, unwrap the soap and tie some twine around it. Tuck in a few sprigs of dried herbs for a pretty presentation.
Hand salves or bug balms are also great little items for a gardening basket. I love mixing up a rose geranium and thyme tick-repelling balm for New England gardeners, or a citronella and lemongrass bug balm for gardening friends across the country. Dry, overworked hands might prefer a castor oil, rose hip, and vitamin e healing salve.
I fill pretty jam jars or old tins with the balm and let the mixture cool before tucking them in the basket beside the soap.
4. Seeds & Bulbs
Seeds are my favorite addition to any gardening gift basket! Whether you decide to tuck in some Japanese chrysanthemum greens or a packet of nasturtiums, seeds are guaranteed to delight. Give whole, unopened seed packets, or make mini-bundles of your favorites to share.
Fill a reusable, loosely crocheted vegetable bag with spring bulbs for extra excitement. I love giving tulips and gladiolas. Crocuses and daffodils are idea for an autumn gift basket. They can be planted right away, and when warm weather returns, your bulbs will blossom for your friend’s enjoyment!
5. Garden Labels and Markers
If you’re especially artistic, putting together a collection of garden labels match your seeds can be stunning. Use birch sticks, popsicle sticks, decorative wire. Draw your own labels or decoupage cut outs from beautiful seed catalogues onto a solid backing. The options are limitless.
Tuck them in with hand-drawn mini-packets of heirloom seeds! Your gift basket will inspire even the most uncertain gardener to greatness.
Gloves, aprons, trowels, or pruning shears are handy items and easy to squeeze into any size basket. They’re substantial, lasting pieces of equipment, but slim enough to keep from overwhelming a small space.
Be choosy when picking out long term tools like these though. Try to avoid giving 40-year old Uncle Butch a flowery apron or gardening gloves with tender, yellow ducklings embroidered on them. Pick tools that will be cherished and loved where they’re given!
A small plant or two is a great way to top off a gardening gift basket. Nestle a young, potted lavender plant or a ferny, flowering yarrow in the basket.
Nothing finishes off a gorgeous gardening gift basket like a living plant.
Big Ticket Items for your Gardening Gift Basket
Large gift baskets need one or two large items to fill the space and delight the eye. If your basket is too large for the gifts inside, it’ll look empty. So consider one or two of these bigger pieces to round out the larger basket.
Large terra cotta pots or painted planters are a great way to fill space and inspire your recipient. They can hold smaller items safely, or you can nest a few together. Planters are so much fun for both indoor and outdoor gardeners.
9. Gardening Books
A great gardening book is a fantastic addition to your gift basket. If you’re giving the basket to a rural homesteader with a sense of humor, try Isreal and Slay’s hippy Homesteader’s Handbook. Your beloved urban gardener might prefer The Essential Urban Farmer. An all-around joy – and my personal favorite – is Darina Allen’s Grow, Cook, Nourish.
10. Garden Décor
Those little gnomes that Aunt May has been longing for go here. So do pink flamingos, fairy-houses, and bird feeders. Try adding a bat house to a gothic gardener’s gift basket. Similarly, tucking a birdhouse and feeder in a basket for retirees is sure to inspire big smiles.
Alternatively, set up a a St. Francis statue in a wheelbarrow. Tuck in bird seed, potted bee balm, and pollinator seed packets all around him for very themed basket.
Garden décor is a great way to personalize the gift basket, so let your creativity run wild here. Everything from mailboxes to bird baths could work perfectly, as long as you can fit it in the container you’ve chosen.
11. Living Gifts: Pros and Cons (Note: There are More Cons)
Live plants and sprouting seeds are almost essential aspects of any garden basket, but they’re not the only live option. In fact, animals are a popular addition to garden baskets, especially in springtime.
If you’re considering adding ducklings, chicks, or any other animal to the basket, think very carefully. There are a few questions you need to answer first.
Is the animal safe in the basket?
Young chicks and ducklings need to be kept very warm. In fact, during the first few weeks of life, they need to be kept in 90-degree temperatures. If you tuck them into a gift basket for a couple hours, these fragile babies will likely take chill and die.
Is the recipient able to care for the animals?
Baby animals take a lot of care, warmth, and tending. If your basket’s recipient isn’t already set up to receive ducklings or chicks, it’s likely the animals who will suffer. Adding animals, even to an already established homestead, takes a lot of preparation.
Will the recipient be devastated by a loss?
How will the death of a gifted animal impact the recipient? Remember that baby animals are fragile. Furthermore, animals offered in gift baskets are more likely than others to die. Is a dead duckling or baby bunny something your Aunt May can handle? Is that something she wants to deal with on her birthday?
While there’s nothing more adorable than tiny, yellow ducklings or chicks poking their heads out of a gift basket, I’d encourage you to pass. Including live animals, especially young animals, in a gift is a huge risk. In addition, it’s often both cruel to the animals and overwhelming to the recipient.
If you want to give a gift of chicks, ducklings, rabbits, or any animal, give a gift certificate. Offer to take the person to a local hatchery or farm store to pick out chicks. Make it an event in which the little ones can thrive, and their new owner has a great chance at raising healthy animals.
Tying it Up with a Bow
Now that you’ve collected everything that goes into the basket, putting it together will be a cinch! Here are a few extra tips:
Try to keep every item at least partially visible. If you’re worried about smaller items sinking to the bottom, give the whole basket a boost by laying a pretty folded cloth at the bottom. The items should be balanced so that the basket isn’t too heavy on one side or another. We don’t want it to flip and spill everything onto the floor.
Place the taller items in the back to provide structure, and display smaller items in front. If you have a tiny bit of extra space left over, add a slim bouquet in an old apothecary jar.
Your basket is ready! Enjoy sharing your love of gardening with your loved ones. I know they’ll be thrilled.