Last week, you may recall, we had a letter from a reader who wondered what kind of indestructible plant to give to her children’s teachers for end-of-the-year gifts. Those would be plastic, of course. But short of giving the gift that shouts Tacky! There are plenty of options for handsome, sturdy plants that are useful, too. The last thing we need to do is strap our teachers with needy plants. Special needs. Please!
So we gathered some enticing plants in 4” containers or smaller. Basil, chives, mint, Michelmas or Santa Barbara daisies, Black Eyed Susans, coreopsis, cosmos.
Also found: gently used four inch terra cotta pots from my sister’s garage sale. Shout out to my sister, who also happens to be a teacher. Man, does she have to do everything in this family? No, I scrubbed them clean and rinsed in a mild bleach solution so they’re ready to be recycled. Tip: Use pots that are small enough for easy transport by little hands but large enough for a colorful display.
Also required: 6 pound bag premium potting soil, washed sand or aquatic pebbles for mulch and asmall bag of tumbled rock, or a large pebble from your own backyard. This promotes drainage while plugging hole in bottom of container. Oh and, work in the shade so your plants don’t wilt as you expose their tender roots. Wear latex gloves as soil tends to dry everything out quicker than a blow dryer in a beauty shop.
Here we go:
Add one large pebble to the bottom of each pot you will fill. To this add about one inch of pre-moistened potting soil. Take your first plant out of it’s little container. Massage the soil or gently trim the roots to get the plant to fit into its new pot. Carefully press into place, then fill the top of the pot with washed sand or aquatic pebbles for a tidier presentation. Water well, and attach original plant marker, if available. Keep the plant in its favored location (filtered sun for the above listed). If you’re able to, tend the plant for a few days to make sure it got through the transplant without too much trauma.
Here’s another easy and thoughtful gift that won’t cost an arm and a leg: a coffee mug filled with a bag of loose lavender flowers or tea leaves. I found a pretty robin’s egg blue cup at the 99 Cent Store. Add a cup of dried lavender flowers (available at Motif or Nicole’s Gourmet Food Store), tied up in a small gift bag with matching ribbon or colored raffia. Add a handmade card from a youngster which goes a long way toward saying “I put some time and effort into this because I like you.”
If you want to splurge, go to Future Studio Gallery, 5558 N. Figueroa Avenue,Highland Park 90042, 323.254.4565 for the cutest little coffee cup ever. Popular in old school New York coffee shops from the 70s and 80s were thick paper to go cups with a Greek motif. Some clever designer has transferred this awesome symbol of Everyman into a ceramic cup! $12 at Future Studio Gallery, or all the Chicken Boy gear you can stand. Yes, Chicken Boy. The head of a chicken, the body of a boy, made of resin, on top of a building. Don’t take my word for it, go see for yourself.
But I digress, which happens when I get excited. Back to the teachers. Even if you’re not feeling creative, make a label in your finest cursive (kids, look it up at Websters.com) or print one with a fahncy font, such as Architext, DuCahier or Lucida Calligraphy with these instructions: Steep a tablespoon of lavender flowers per cup of hot water for hot or iced tea. Take a break. You deserve it!
And if your plant or tea cup arrives safely, you deserve a break, too. Hope you saved some lavender tea for yourself, or enough gas for a pilgrimage to Chicken Boy.