Green, Growing Mother’s Day Gift Ideas

Flowers and cards are great, but you can do better.

By Jean Nick


Basil grows well in containersYou can grow just about any edible in a container, but here are some of my favorites: basil (there are many different shapes, colors, and fragrances), calendula (edible flowers), carrots (they have lovely ferny foliage), chamomile, chives, cucumbers (get the bushy type, or provide a sturdy trellis), green onions, lettuce (mix some different colors and shapes), peppers, pinks and carnations (yes, they’re actually edible!), radishes, rosemary (trailing varieties are available), scented geraniums, strawberries (alpine or everbearing), thyme, and tomatoes. If plants or seedlings aren’t available from a local nursery or farmers’ market, plant the seeds and put in some labeled markers. Include care instructions and perhaps an appropriate gardening book.

If Mom’s deck or terrace could also use some privacy, stock a container with some tall plants that will create a living screen (you’ll need to set up a trellis of woven branches or strings to support the plants). Good and tasty choices include runner beans (they produce scarlet or white edible flowers, followed by beans), pineapple sage (gorgeous flowers and pineapple-flavored leaves that can be used for tea), okra (red varieties are especially attractive; both the large flowers and the pods are edible), rat-tail radish (makes small white-to-pink edible flowers, followed by tender, spicy seedpods), and sunflowers (even a single plant makes quite a statement!). For a spot that doesn’t get a lot of sun, plant Swiss chard (different varieties sport white, deep red, or jewel-tone midribs), salad greens, carrots, and beets.

After cards and flowers, taking Mom out for a meal is likely the next most common Mother’s Day ritual. If a meal is part of your family’s tradition, give it a green makeover and take her to a restaurant that buys local and organic ingredients. Or cook up a feast with fresh edibles from your local farmers’ market. For longer-term enjoyment, consider signing her up for a local consumer-supported agriculture (CSA) program (she’ll get a box or bag of farm-fresh veggies every week). Make an agreement with your siblings to take turns bringing her to the farm or picking up the produce and delivering it to her; she’ll get fresh food and a visit. Or sign up yourself, and split your take with her. Check out to find a CSA program in your (or her) area.