Lynn Barber, Florida-Friendly Landscaping™ agent for UF/IFAS Extension Hillsborough County, offers tips for gardening-related ways to give.

With Christmas and the New Year approaching, it’s time to embrace the gift of giving.

“Giving” doesn’t necessarily mean something material, like a plant, gardening tool or gardener’s gear like gloves, knee pads, carts and much more—although these make nice gifts.

Ask yourself: “What can I offer someone important in my life that relates to gardening? Something a family member or friend is not able to tackle on their own?”

If you have the inclination, time or a few funds to spare, consider offering a specific number of hours or certain tasks. You can always ask your friends and relatives what type of yard work they would like you to tackle.

Tasks could include things you specifically enjoy doing in your own yard and are willing to share those talents with others. For me, that would be mulching and weeding. For many of you, it could be purchasing and planting a few cool season herbs and vegetables. These include sage, dill, cilantro, thyme, cabbage, cauliflower, carrot and lettuce. You may prefer to move plants to a more protected area or take cuttings to root on a lanai, window ledge, maybe a table.

Each of us has so much we can offer in the way of encouragement, positive reinforcement and confidence building. There’s no need to stop helping after you spend time with your friends and relatives.

What about asking if you can help a neighbor with a project? Volunteer or join a community garden? Learn something new about gardening at the UF FFL (Florida-Friendly Landscaping™) website and share that information with your co-workers, friends and family.

Here’s hoping you can get outside and help others by providing your time and service. Giving the gift of giving has a low cost and high return. And, my guess is it’s better than a fruitcake.

For information about upcoming horticultural programs and to find your county’s calendar of events, check the internet at ‘Ask IFAS’ followed by the name of your county. You can click on the upcoming events and register for workshops.

It’s never too late to do something nice for someone else. Wishing all of you safe and wonderful holidays.

Lynn Barber is the Florida-Friendly Landscaping™ agent for UF/IFAS Extension Hillsborough County. Contact her at

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