PHOTO: iStock/Thinkstock
Lynsey Grosfield
December 7, 2016

It’s that time of year again—and by that time of year, I mean the absolute darkest part of winter. Thankfully, the seed catalogues for next year will come pouring in soon. It’s a time for dreaming, planning and hoping for greener seasons.

Last December, I made an advent calendar out of uncommon tree and shrub seeds for a fellow edible landscaper. This was a timely winter gift because many temperate-zone trees and shrubs need to be cold-stratified if they are to be grown from seed. At the same time—for subscribers to BiodiverSeed.com—I organized a “SEEDcret Santa” exchange. People living within the same region or biome were matched with each other and given a “wishlist” of sorts from another gardener in order to pay it forward.

This idea of sharing seeds over the holidays—whether enacted among friends, family, colleagues, neighbors or gardening clubs—has meanings beyond the material of the gift itself.

Gardening is an intrinsically social activity. It’s kind of like an applied science or trade that gets passed on to hobbyists and professionals alike more through stories and experiences than manuals, though those abound, too. Making it explicitly social by organizing around an exchange of seeds can also be a means of exchanging knowledge with other gardeners, getting to know new—or heirloom—cultivars that work, and passing on valuable knowledge to beginning gardeners.

A SEEDcret Santa exchange can be a fun way to get the people you know interested in cultivation from planting to harvest, and as with most hobbies, a passion for gardening is best enjoyed when it’s shared. Even the most amateur gardeners will appreciate the chance to start a few interesting herbs in the kitchen window.

So if you’re looking to give the gift of a dream of greener seasons, look no further than giving the humble start of plant life.


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