Lifestyle & Culture

Green Acre #177: Mother Nature Has a Gift for Everyone

DESMOND AND AZALEA von Thistle have invited you to cruise the Caribbean for the holidays. Their boat, a 360-foot custom Lürssen is .89 feet shorter than one built for some Russian oligarch, which irritates them so—but that is neither here nor there. 

What on Earth to get them for Christmas? 

And, as this year Hanukkah intersects with Christmas, which it does from time to time, Azalea (née Levy) is expecting eight nights of gifts. Oy.  

It’s the perennial question, right? What to give those who seem to have everything or, looked at another way, seem to need nothing.

You know, Mother Nature is never at a loss for gifting.

LEFT: Self-watering pots from the MoMA Design Store.
RIGHT: An Alula LED-lighted bonsai from Amazon.

MoMA’s Design Store has these cunning self-watering terracotta pots, which sit in glass containers and allow the jasmines and calamondins to sip at their leisure while you and your hosts bask in St. Barts. $34 to $74. 

LEFT: Snowstorm on demand, with a projector from Amazon.
RIGHT: One of several little trees–calamondin, lime, lemon, olive–available from Terrain.

No calamondin? Terrain has miniature bitter-orange trees; the fruit is divine in a whiskey sour. If the von Thistles prefer martinis, a little olive tree will keep them well supplied.  Terrain also offers a lime tree for the margaritas and, for a truly knock-their-cashmere-socks-off gift, a pink lemon tree, with fuchsia blooms and pink meat. All of these trees have blossoms so highly scented you could pass out at a sniff. $94 each. 

LEFT: Bottle-garden kits from Uncommon Goods. RIGHT: Curly willow branches from Williams Sonoma.

Speaking of drinking. Good lord, their empty champagne bottles do get out of hand, don’t they? Fill them with water and plug the necks with bottle stoppers and seeds from, set them in a sunny spot and grow either a combo of edible Cosmos, Marigold and Zinnia, or a Sweet Basil, Dill, and Parsley combo. $22 per kit, bottle not included. 

Orchids are, of course, orchids. Pick one or several full-blown beauties at Trader Joe’s on your Two Buck Chuck run (now $2.99). Desmond and Azalea will never know you dropped less than $30, including a perfectly respectable pot, as they never set foot in a grocery store, except for the occasional slumming in Paris at Fauchon. 

Believe it or not, these KFC fire logs, which give your living room the holiday smell of . . . fried chicken, may be sold out already. Exclusive to Walmart.

Show me someone who doesn’t like paperwhite narcissus and I’ll show you someone without a nose. Available at just about any garden center or hardware store, these bulbs are stupidly simple to grow: Put them in a bowl of pebbles, add a little water, and done.  (I just stick them in a pot of dirt.) A couple of weeks in a window and they burst into honeyed bloom.

For a bit of unkillable faux twinkle, consider an ALULA Lighted Tree from Amazon. It’s a battery-operated bit of bonsai (you could throw in the batteries) with 108 itty-bitty bulbs on the silvery stems. It would look spectacular on the von Thistles’ buffet table. $17.99; they can ship it to the ship, one supposes. Jeff Bezos not included.

And what’s Christmastime without snow? Amp up the dazzle with an LED snowstorm, also from Amazon. This dazzling, whirling winter storm flurries indoors or out from a tiny projector. $42.99. 

Curly willow branches are available in red and green—and natural, like these from Williams Sonoma—usually cut in three-foot lengths. They’re dramatic enough when dried (and will last that way for years), but they’re really spectacular when allowed to leaf out: Just pop a dozen in a vase of water, give them a week or so and poof—a willow tree grows in the yacht’s saloon. Some people manage to root them and keep them alive, but don’t count on it. 

Of course, Desmond and Azalea have a fireplace aboard and air conditioning blasting to combat the tropical heat. You could, of course, order them some lovely-smelling logs of cherrywood or hickory, but for a truly rarefied treat, check out the 11 Herbs & Spices Fire Log. Sold exclusively by Walmart (with limited availability), the log fills the air with the delicate scent of Kentucky Fried Chicken. Really. $18.99. 

Happy sailing!

—Stephanie Cavanaugh

LittleBird “Stephanie Gardens” thinks everyone, even those on the water, should have plants. 


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