Specialty gardens can mean a lot of different things to a lot of different people. Depending on your taste, circle of friends, and family traditions, the sky is the limit as to what your landscape or yard can yield in the way of creative garden gifts. Whether it is a green garden gift or a cocktail party garden recipe, the Backyard Blogger has what you need.

Green gift ideas from your garden

Looking for green gift ideas?  How about an edible bouquet of garden greens?

An arrangement of Swiss chard, fennel, and baby carrots with green tops makes a lovely gift for a dinner party hostess who appreciates fresh, homegrown food.  Wash the vegetables, trim stems as desired, and place in a glass vase filled with water.  Or if the hostess is a foodie who loves Italian-inspired recipes, present her with a pesto bouquet.  Place leafy cuttings of Red Rubin basil, sweet basil, and lemon basil in a small vase filled with water.  And finally, if the hostess is particularly health-conscious, consider giving her a mixed bouquet of fresh kale (green curled, winter red, and blue curled) wrapped in brown wax paper and tied with jute string.

A potted rose is a gift that keeps on giving

Plant a white KnockOut rose in a white ceramic pot and present it as a wedding gift.  Add some slow-release fertilizer to the potting mix (if it odesn't already contain fertilizer).  Wrap a length of white ribbon around the pot and tie the ends into a bow.  Attach your greeting card to the bow.  A white rose as a wedding gift celebrates youth and innocence and sends best wishes for a life filled with love and growth.

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A last-minute green gift

Need a thoughtful last minute gift?  Not a problem if you've got an herb garden just outside your backdoor. Pick an assortment of herbsrosemary, lemon verbena, and mintand using a ribbon gently tie their stems into a bouquet.  Attach the herb bouquet to the handle of a small  tea pot. Write your favorite herb tea recipe on a card and slip everything into a reusable gift bag.

Here's an easy and tasty recipe for rosemary tea. Add 3 or 4 sprigs of fresh rosemary and 1 teaspoon crushed/minced ginger to 2 cups of boiling water. Cover for  3-5 minutes to steep. Add  honey to taste. Strain and serve warm or over ice.

If you don't have an herb garden, a certified landscape professional can help you get one started.

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Wildlife-friendly landscapes are all about the B'sbees, butterflies, and birds

If you'd like to share your outdoor living spaces with monarchs, swallowtails, finches, hummingbirds, warblers, and more, all you have to do is offer a reliable source of food and water, safe hideaways, and shelter to raise their young. A certified landscape or nursery professional can help you create a landscape that the birds, bees and butterflies will find hard to resist. Here is a sampling of wildlife plant magnets to get you started:

           ▪Nectar and seed producing annuals and perennials, including Turk's cap, larkspur, rudbeckia, bee balm, and coneflowers

           ▪Host plants for butterflies, including parsley, dill, fennel and milkweed

 

▪ Evergreen shrubs for shelter and nesting, including barbados cherry, cherry laurel, elaeagnus, and viburnum

▪ Trees that produce fruit, nuts, seeds or nectar, including Texas persimmon, Mexican plum, pecan, and redbud

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Plant a cocktail garden, and party guests (and maybe a few herb-loving bees and butterflies) will find you

Finally it's Friday (FIF?). You can hardly wait to get home, mix up a batch of your new favorite cocktails and throw a few salmon steaks on the gas grill. Your friends will be arriving shortly with side dishes and big appetites. That's fine, because you're almost ready -- the grill is getting hot, the salmon is coated with a spicy rub, and you're picking herbs from the cocktail garden. Ahhh, the simple pleasures are indeed the best.

Here's a simple recipe for a cocktail garden that will wow your friends and add a new dimension to your cocktail repertoire. Fill a metal ice tub with potting soil and add slow-release fertilizer. Poke some holes around the bottom for drainage, and plant three or four of the following herbs: lemon verbena, rosemary, basil, lemon balm, lime thyme. Water well and place in a sunny spot on your patio or deck. Pour some potting soil into a smaller metal ice bucket and plant mint. Water well and set it in a shady spot. Now let the party begin….

A certified professional landscaper can help you create outdoor living spaces for entertaining friends.

Herbal cocktail recipes:

Bon Appetit's Lemon Balm Honeysuckle

Organic Gardening's Garden Party

The Kitchn's Recipe Roundup: 20 Summer Cocktails with Fresh Herbs

The Huffington Post's 5 Fresh Herb Cocktail's for Summer

Fine Cooking's Limoncello-Gin Cocktail with Grilled Thyme

Cooking Light's Summer Drinks

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Trying to keep your cool? Dive into water gardening

Water sounds are soothing and cooling in the home landscape. They draw you closer to sit, relax and listen for a bit. Just the thing you want if you're trying to create an outdoor living space where you and your family can enjoy dining and bird watching. Surround a bubbling fountain or recirculating waterfall with water plants, and nearby, plant a few nectar and seed-producing flowers. Before you know it, your backyard might start to resemble a scene from the Discovery Channel, and you might notice your kids saying things like: "Mom, Dad, Sis and I are going out to the backyard to see if we can spot a Tufted Titmouse."

Consult with a certified professional in your area to learn more about how to add a pond and other water features to your landscape.

Water Garden Club of South Texas

North Texas Water Garden Society

Austin Pond Society

HGTV's Water Features

Fine Gardening's Simple Ways to Add Water to the Garden


Wildlife

Every wonder what the secret is to luring invigorating wildlife to your backyard or landscape? Watch this video for some helpful hints.


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