Holidays: Cultivating a gift

9865520855?profile=RESIZE_710xSpaces at Mounts Botanical Garden offer inspiration for gardeners and nature lovers. Coastal Star file photos

A holiday guide worthy of two green thumbs-up from gardeners and nature lovers

By Deborah S. Hartz-Seeley

Nature has helped many of us cope with coronavirus pandemic restrictions over the past two years. Your physical and spiritual renewal may have come when you stepped into the backyard to get your hands dirty, wandered a park path or simply opened a book about the birds and the bees.
And now that it’s the holidays, you may want to make communing with nature an important part of your gift giving. To get you thinking, here are some suggestions:
Art Lovers: For those who want to combine Mother Nature’s and man’s works of art in one gift, you might facilitate a prepaid visit to a venue that includes indoor as well as outdoor art exhibits.
The Norton Museum of Art in West Palm Beach not only houses an indoor art collection, it also features a “museum in a garden.” Sculptures are placed in outdoor galleries filled with plants that complement the artwork. Mother Nature’s works include a collection of native palm trees.
Reserved-time entry tickets can be ordered and prepaid online (general admission $18, www.Norton.org).

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Treat that special someone to a day of art in the garden. Sculptures are placed in outdoor galleries filled with plants that complement the artwork at the Norton Museum of Art in West Palm Beach.


When you start to tire, The Restaurant at the Norton is a great place to get a bite with a view of the gardens. To include luncheon with your gift recipient’s visit, call The Restaurant at 561-268-0500 for reservations and to arrange payment.
Or try the Ann Norton Sculpture Gardens (www.ansg.org). Also in West Palm Beach, it is housed in sculptor Ann Norton’s historic home and on the surrounding property. Your recipient can view more than 100 of her works, including nine monumental sculptures displayed outdoors among 250 varieties of palm trees and cycads.
To arrange for a prepaid admission ticket to be waiting, call the museum (561-832-5328; adult admission $15).

9865525681?profile=RESIZE_710xThe zen garden at the Morikami offers a place for reflection.

Another venue to consider is the Morikami Museum and Japanese Gardens in Delray Beach (www.Morikami.org; adult admission $15). Your recipients will feel more like they have been whisked away to Asia rather than just visiting a museum.
Here they can immerse themselves in six distinct gardens inspired by significant landscapes in Japan. These include the Shin-Den garden, Paradise garden and Hiraniwa Flat Garden.
And if you want to provide a lunch break, the Cornell restaurant is ready to serve a Pan-Asian meal on the museum grounds.
To arrange a visit as a gift, call the museum (561-495-0233) and request an admissions gift certificate. If you are including lunch, the desk can transfer you to the Cornell Café where you will need to request a separate certificate.
Tell the café that you are also purchasing an admissions certificate and the two will be mailed together either to yourself or directly to the recipient, whichever you prefer.
Botanic break: For someone who likes to make regular visits to a garden, consider giving a membership to the 14-acre Mounts Botanical Garden in West Palm Beach (www.mounts.org; tax-deductible memberships start at $50 for one year).
You’ll be providing year-round access to Mounts’ 25 garden areas, including a rose and fragrance garden, a tranquility garden and a dry stream-bed garden.
A perk you get with membership is participation in the Reciprocal Admissions Program of the American Horticultural Society. It provides free access to 340 gardens nationwide.
In fact, you may want to check out RAP as an alternative gift idea. If you join the AHS (https://ahsgardening.org, starting at $35), you get direct access to the gardens nationwide plus other perks.
Pack a picnic: To make your gift a little more personal, plan a picnic and enjoy it with the recipient in a garden. We recommend two parks that have free admission and encourage people to bring meals.
In fact, the Society of the Four Arts in Palm Beach (www.fourarts.org) highly recommends that you bring lunch.
Here, your dining venue might be the 2.2-acre Philip Hulitar Sculpture Garden or the Four Arts Botanical Gardens. Besides seeing artworks from the permanent collection, you can visit a variety of garden “rooms” that demonstrate what can be done with landscaping in our climate.
Or visit Pan’s Garden, which is part of the Preservation Foundation of Palm Beach (www.palmbeachpreservation.org). It is known for its native plants as well as its namesake bronze statue of Pan of Rohallion.
Set in a fountain near the entrance to the garden, Pan welcomes you as well as the many birds and butterflies that make this well-curated native landscape their home.
Of course, picnickers are welcome only as long as they clean up after their meals.

9865528265?profile=RESIZE_180x180Dig this: To any friends or family who like to get outside and dig in the dirt, you might give a native plant. And to make your gift more personal, offer to help plant it.
A native plant is a gift that keeps on giving by requiring little maintenance and attracting more wildlife than exotic varieties do.
For example, dune sunflowers, which are particularly suited to the coastal clime, attract birds, moths and bees; beautyberry’s bright purple fruit brings in over 40 species of birds including woodpeckers and mockingbirds.
You can find a good selection at local native nurseries including Meadow Beauty Nursery (www.meadowbeautynursery.com), Amelia’s Smarty Plants (www.amelias-smartyplants.com) plus Indian Trails Native Nursery (https://indiantrails.vpweb.com), all in Lake Worth; or Native Choice Nursery (www.nativechoicenursery.com) in Boynton Beach.
The owners are knowledgeable and can help with your selection, making sure the plants can withstand the coastal elements of sand, wind and salt. Check online for hours and the need for an appointment.9865527077?profile=RESIZE_180x180
DIY: For the avid gardener as well as the beginner, give a must-have garden tool. We can personally recommend any of the many types of clippers made by Felco. These red-handled precision tools are well-constructed and designed to make trimming your greenery easier.
Although the whole line of clippers is designed for comfortable use, you can purchase ergonomically correct models too.
For those who tackle big jobs, you might select a ratcheted lopper. The ratchet mechanism clicks each time you close the handles, increasing the mechanical pressure on whatever you are cutting. This provides much more power than the scissor-like variety.
I find that the gear on my Fiskars brand loppers allows me to cut small tree and bush trunks of soft wood that are 4 inches thick.

Native license plate: The Florida Native Plant Society, with a chapter in Palm Beach County, has worked with the state to make a native license plate available for the first time this year.
The “Florida Native” plate was designed by Peter Agardy and features a wooded scene fashioned entirely from Florida native plants. Agardy is a fourth-generation Floridian known in the tri-county area for his nature paintings and outdoor murals.
A voucher for the license plate costs $34 and can be bought at any Florida county tax collector’s office or at www.floridanativelicenseplate.com, where it’s set up to let you purchase a voucher as a gift.
As soon as 3,000 vouchers have been sold, the plates will be printed and each buyer will receive a new license plate.
Of course, your gift also will help fund FNPS in its mission to bring more native plants to Florida landscapes.9865532086?profile=RESIZE_180x180

Put up your feet: For people who prefer to read about gardening or want information they can use to create their own backyard masterpieces, plenty of books are available for giving.
You might select A Gardener’s Guide to Florida’s Native Plants (2001; $19.99 list) by Rufino Osorio. One local reader and avid gardener describes it as “a great book written by a Palm Beach County resident, well-illustrated and in simple terms.”
If that doesn’t suit, there’s University of Delaware entomology professor Douglas W. Tallamy’s newest book, Nature’s Best Hope: A New Approach to Conservation that Starts in Your Yard (2020; $29.95 list).
Both in his lectures that I’ve attended and his book, he explains how you can become nature’s best hope for survival by filling your yard with native plants that help create a conservation corridor protecting wildlife.
9865507674?profile=RESIZE_400xRemember that date: Photographer Irma Hale — whose father, Reuben Hale, was a prominent West Palm Beach sculptor and whose mother, Marie Hale, was an artistic director of Ballet Florida in West Palm Beach — has created a 2022 calendar.
“Garden Delights” celebrates beautiful blooms and can be purchased for $18.99 at www.irmahalephotography.com.
Spa essentials: Pamper your gift recipient with boutique beauty products compounded from botanicals. Plants used in these might include sunflower, an emollient and skin conditioner; the soothing and healing chamomile; and avocado, which acts as an antioxidant.
Some spas provide botanical treatments and products, or you can buy them online, where you’ll also find recipes for making your own.
Good at any age: For access to an indoor activity with an outdoor theme, give a jigsaw puzzle depicting the great outdoors.
This time of year, puzzles with snow-covered evergreens and holiday bedecked gardens make for great gifts and family activities.
In general, the greater the number of pieces, the more difficult the puzzle and the more space it probably will require to assemble. Springbok is my puzzle brand of choice for its high quality and challenging piece design.
We hope that during this holiday season, when you get together with nature-loving family and friends, these ideas will facilitate meaningful gift giving. But remember, Mother Nature bestows her gifts on anyone who just goes outdoors.

You can reach Deborah S. Hartz-Seeley at debhartz@att.net.

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