Suzy Bales
Suzy Bales

August Contest: The Best Ideas for Giving Gifts from The Garden

Celebrity Garden Judge: Suzy Bales

Prize: Signed copies of Suzy’s last three books!

August is the time of year when all of that work in the garden finally starts to pay off.

If you are anything like us, you always have more than enough to go around after the harvest, even accounting for all the freezing, canning and pickling.

And, if you are anything like us you’ve learned that giving some of what you’ve grown to friends or family (or, in the case of zucchini, perfect strangers) can be equally as thrilling.  Maybe it’s because it makes you feel generous but it also helps you brag a little in a very furtive way:  Look what I did!!

We love to come up with creative ideas for giving gift from the garden and we’re sure you have some great share.

We couldn’t think of a better person to take a look at your ideas than Suzy Bales.

Suzy delights in sharing her garden with friends and family. In her book, Garden Parties she inspires fancifully fun parties that transform outdoor spaces into enchanting playgrounds for the senses—the plants, the décor, and the food intermingle to create truly memorable themes.

Suzy had her own weekly gardening column in Newsday for two years before joining Family Circle as their contributing garden editor for twelve years. She wrote a column for The New York Times for a year before joining Better Homes & Gardens as the Senior Editor for Gardening and Outdoor Living from 2004 until early 2007.  She has been featured in Ladies Home Journal, House Beautiful, Better Homes and Gardens, Horticulture, Beautiful Gardens, and Easy Gardening.

Get inspired for your own garden gifts (and contest entries) by taking a browse through Suzy’s own website.

Submit your ideas for giving gifts from the garden in the comments section below.

Submit any photos to:  [email protected]

Win these!!
Win these!!
by Dr. Brent

Reader Comments

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *


i love herbal butter with home-made bread warm from the oven. flavored dipping oils made from seasonal herbs steeped in evoo are delightful with artisan breads fresh from the bakery. for friends & family with a sweet tooth, lavender pound cake is wonderful.

ellen in nc


the gift box:

a small weathered wooden crate

the contents:

garden fresh herbs in ribbon tied bunches

tiny glass medicine bottles (dug up from the earth myself in a dump spot on the side of a creek in my yard)

small vintage cobalt glass bottles

filled with:

each bottle:

single flowers from the garden

and love


I have not given any as gifts yet, but I have so much Oregano and Basil, Parsley, etc. I freeze it in old glass spice jars so I have fresh herbs for cooking all year. I made labels and sealed with clear packing tape.


I am not sure if this counts but i love growing sunflowers so right about this time they begin to bloom, i create half a dozen bundles tie them together and add poscard thank you notes. as i go on with my daily routine i drop them of at the cafe when i get my mocha, my dr. office, my neighbor across the street, my corner store, the local dog shelter, the used book store and few others thanking them for being part of my everyday( not tha i see my dr. everyday, but he is wonderful and so aret he people tha work for him)!


With an overabundance of tomatoes and bar-b-q season still in full force, I gather up a big batch of tomatoes, de-seed them, remove their skins and slow cook them until they are soft. After cooling them, they get pureed in my blender, with an added bit of sea salt, basil, roasted onions and red bell peppers from the garden. When all is nice and smooth, I bottle up my home made "ketsup" and send the bottles to friends, in a basket, along with some fresh, unhusked corn, a bbq utensil or two and fresh baked goodies like bread rolls. I include a few recipes for burgers, pork and steak. My ketsup goes great on top of bar-b-qed foodstuffs!


New to Colorado, I was clueless about what to plant at our new home. Told the landscape person I liked bees, birds, butterflies. One choice she made was a native black currant bush. Sooo, I get to watch the bees pollinate it, make jelly for gifts and watch the robins eat the ones left on the branches. It's a three present bush!


I make pesto & freeze in ice trays. When done (a day ) I pop out these pest cubes and put in a large zip lock bag and/or in small ones with 2-3 cubes ready for a hostess gift. For the Holidays I just wrap some baggies of pesto in my home made decorated tissue paper. Thanks Tina

Martha Kraska

My Son and his wife spent 12months renovating their home the yard was badly damaged because of construction….finally his mother in law and I got together and purchased and planted foundation plantings boxwood, hosta ,azalea, astilbe,of course lots of white impatience for instant color and the crowning glory a lovely fragrant Chinese Lilac tree ….my son upon arriving home from business trip and saw our work and said NOW WE HAVE A HOME….I guess you could consider this a gift of a garden more than a gift from a garden …..


I love to cook, especially desserts so I’m often asked to bring the dessert to a party. To make a chocolate torte a little more special I like to candy some violets and place them on a dollop of cream on each slice. It makes a beautiful presentation and adds some of my love of gardening to my cooking.


When I think about gifts from the garden, I think of how I can ‘kick it up a notch’ to make the gift even more meaningful.

Here are a couple of ideas:

The Zucchini Baked Good Gift:

Take the overzealous zucchini crop and share some with friends and neighbors. Using a loaf pan or other baking pan as the gift basket, line the interior with hydrangea leaves, to create a base for the basket. Fill it with fresh zucchini from the garden along with your favorite recipe for zucchini bread, cake, muffins, etc. (the pan should be suitable for the recipe). Include with your gift a mason jar filled with all the dry ingredients. Add in several large hydrangea blooms to fill the gift basket pan. Tie it with a raffia bow. It’s a great hostess gift or anytime gift. Not only can the recipient enjoy the recipe again and again, but they can also put the blooms into a vase or dry them for a long lasting arrangement.

A Harvest Dinner:

Select fresh vegetables from your garden, such as green beans, okra, summer squash, sweet corn, tomatoes, eggplant and a melon or two you might have growing in the garden. Place the harvest in a large garden basket, arranged around the sides of the basket with instructions on how to create a “Harvest dinner” fresh from the garden using the ingredients provided. Place a vase filled with a fresh flower arrangement from the garden in the center to be used as the centerpiece for the recipients harvest dinner table.

Create an Herb Wreath:

If your herbs are like mine, they are wild and crazy this time of year. Take cuttings from all your herbs to create an herb wreath for the kitchen. Rosemary, Thyme, Lavender, Tarragon, Sage, and many other herbs can be used to create the wreath.
Create small clusters of herbs and attach them to a wire wreath form using florist wire. Attach by twisting the wire tightly around the base of the herb clusters. Overlay the next cluster to hide the ‘wiring’ and continue the process around the entire wreath form. A 10-12” wreath form works nicely.
The herb wreath can be hung in the kitchen and the herbs can be used for cooking or garnishing a dish. The herbs can also be allowed to dry and then saved to be used throughout the winter months.


I grow a lot of herbs in my small balcony garden and one of my favourite things to make and give to people is homemade herbal tea mixtures. My sleepy/relaxation tea is popular, so much that I keep adding more plants every year to meet the demand!

anne busquet

I go to my friend Suzy’s garden( the famous Suzy Bales) and I ask her to make me a flower arrangement and then I take it to my friends who think I am amazing…

Jodi Sorteberg

It seems like every year I tend to get carried away with one veggie or another… This year it was hot peppers. I canned salsa as well as jalapino jelly and have also made various rubs and spice mixes with them. This year I will be making “Feelin hot hot hot” gift baskets. Included will be the salsa, jalapeño jelly, spice mixes as well as my homemade hot tamale bath bombs and a hand picked musical CD with spicy music picks. Other themes such as “Cool as a cucumber” etc…. Can also be made. They are fun to make and are always a big hit.


I enjoy gifting rock sea salts that I blend with herbs and flowers from my garden. I enjoy drying the lavender flowers, rosemary, thyme because it smells up my home. Then I mince the herbs, mix with the salts and place them in pretty jam jars decorated with homemade labels and ribbons. On the labels I also include some ideas for use–such as rubs for meats, soak for hands or feet, etc. These salt blends make great housewarming gits.


My garden "gift" is to donate fresh produce from my community garden in Albany, NY, to the food pantry in my neighborhood. So far I have donated 100 lbs. of squash, beans, cukes, broccoli, and other fresh vegetables. Low-income clients of the food pantries often don't have access to affordable fresh vegetables. Direct donations of surplus garden vegies helps enrich their diets with good nutrition and fresh flavor.


Hello my name is Terica, I am a beginning Pressed Flower artist. I have loved gardening all my life. I have learned through pressing flowers to make cards, bookmarks, place markers for parties, and much more. You can make mini presses using

4- 3inch square cardboard pieces

6-3inch pieces of computer paper

2 rubber bands.

stack cardboard ,2 paper,repeat ,

wrap with rubber band ! You can decorate them easy by cutting lamination to fit the top and bottom piece .Add a flower and/or name to each to personalize them.

then you can let everyone go to the garden and find their favorite flower to add to the presses. Vegetable blooms work well too!

Please remind them that they will need to put this press under a heavy book and wait a week for their treasure!

This is just the funniest way I know to share your garden with memories that keep coming.

If you make paper you can also make seed paper cards for your guest to bring home and plant. this is a fun project too.

hope this inspires someone to preserve their blooms. here is my picture site where you can see more things to do. I actually paint with petals!
It has pictures and details on how to make a big press too.

thanks for letting me share , Terica

Mary Lewis

We've been gardening for 8 years. We started out small and now it's an addiction. We give our friends and neighbors cucumbers and tomatoes. We also grow culinary herbs, harvest and dry them all summer long, and then give them away just before Thanksgiving and Christmas to be used in the holiday meals.

I also make sachets with dried lemon verbena or lavender to scent my friends closets and dressers.


I buy a bunch of beautiful baskets and deliver them filled with vegetables from my garden. My friends in NYC especially love this – and everyone loves the baskets.

Laura Sweeney

In the summer when it seems like everyone I know has a birthday – I like to top the wrapped gift with a flower from my garden!


I like to clip a bunch of mint from my garden to take to my friend's house where I make southsides–blend together a can of frozen lemonade, s half can of rum, sprigs of mint, and ice until frothy. Pour into a glass over more ice, add a splash of club soda and a sprig of mint.

Of course mint julips aren't too shabby either.


The greatest gift I have received from our garden is teaching my children about the joy (and often frustration) of growing a garden. This year, for the first time, we started our entire vegetable garden from seed. The children were delighted to help decide which vegetables to grow and loved taking ownership of each of the seedlings they planted. They have happily participated along he way with watering, feeding and even some weeding. They have also learned that patience is a requirement as they count the days until they can harvest their favorite veggie. It is such a thrill for us all to gather and prepare a meal from the garden together and exciting to see the children willingly try new foods. This years favorite — stuffed zucchini blossoms! And don't forget the colorful flower bouquet cut fresh for the table.


The gift of time helping others in the garden has been most rewarding for me. My gardening business is all about taking care of beautiful little old gardens that are too difficult for the owner to handle as they grow older. I spend many hours "off the books" as they tell me stories of each plant they lovingly planted through the last 40 years-roses handed down from grandma, "friendship flowers" given to them from best friends when they divided perennials, things they dug out and brought with them when they moved, and even Christmas trees. I love listening to their tales over a cup of tea and assure them that I will try to take care of these treasures just as they have all of these years. They are so proud of their yards and it's very frustrating when they aren't able to maintain it any longer, and many are on fixed incomes and can't afford a permanent gardener. My own gardens are on hold since I started helping them out, but I feel great when they thank me for bringing theirs back to them!


I always enjoy the gift of love my wife brings to the dinner table with the vegetabes form the garden. She knows how to get to my heart with the new and delicious entrees different every time.

JoAnne S.

Last year my mother gave me a three rootings from her wonderful Hybiscus. Her Hybiscus came from her mother's garden 50 years ago. I planted these root clippings at the cottage in a prominant place and now we are anticipating the first blooms from these plants. It is so cute as she and I eagerly watch for the flowers to bloom in that she turned 90 years old this year and is looking for many more.


There is a hidden treasure in every heirloom garden which I enjoy sharing with my friends. For the past few years I have collected the seeds from my heirloom tomatoes. The next February(late) I start the seeds and by early May I can give my friends tomato plants that are in every way from my garden. The gift takes 8 months and lots of TLC, but well worth it. This spring I also shared seeds from green beans, but they don't need to be started early indoors. This is the beauty of heirloom gardening. . .preserving a plant variety and passing it on.





Often I find myself "trading" veggies with friends and co-workers. It is a great way to try something new or enjoy something you did not grow yourself. For holidays, I enjoy sharing some of the jellies I have canned – I find they are very well received and I feel I gave a tiny bit of myself with each gift.

cathryn crosby

I enjoy putting a small flower in the button hole of my boyfriends lapel, and also putting a matching flower in my hair for socializing on warm summer evenings. In winter, it's enjoyable to switch the flower out for red berries and a little holly.


At my weekly Weight Watchers meeting I started bringing vases of flowers and offered one to anyone who would walk with me for 1 hour. I now have 3 walkers 3 times a week. The flowers motivated them and they motivated me! Everyone wins!


There is nothing which gives love like flowers from one's own garden. The flowers are grown by you with love and picked with a special person in mind. They have a lot more personality and meaning than a bouquet from a stand or florist.


I believe giving flowers from the garden to someone who is sick or in the hospital is one of the best gifts you can give. Even though flowers are so highly popular to give to someone who is not feeling well, personally picked flowers says to someone " Not only did I give you this gift, but I took the time to gather it myself because you're worth it!"

Kelly Frutig

Giving gifts from the garden is the best gift you can give. Last July when all my fragrant lillies were in bloom I made an arrangement for the funeral of a family member. The colors and the smells were greatly appreciated. This year when the flowers came back into bloom, I remembered the day and I gave my aunt a call to see how she was doing. I know now every year it will be a timely reminder to make a call and not to forget.