Home & Design

Green Acre #474: Garden-Adjacent Gifts for Mom

By Stephanie Cavanaugh

MOTHER’S DAY is fast approaching and you’re frantically foraging for a gift for your garden-loving mom, grandma, or daughter—a gift that’s not another bunch of flowers?

Behold! A clutch of garden-adjacent notions for the mother in your life . . .

There’s little more delightful than an early summer table set in the garden, when mosquito season is not yet in full bloom but the flowers are. I’m wary of suggesting a pair of table lamps from Jonemo: I’m afraid they’ll become so popular that I won’t want to use them anymore. (I hate being trendy.) And yet!

These 12-inch-tall rechargeable lamps are perfect when a breeze will gutter candles and you want elegance, not the look of Girl Scout camp (though you can take them glamping).  Trot out the china, ask Alexa for Piaf, and tap the little brass knob atop the shade for the perfect soft lighting—no cords necessary. Oof! You’re on the Orient Express. There are three light settings: daylight, white light, and warm light. Yes, you can use them for reading. A two-pack, in a number of color combos, is a mere $69.99 on Amazon (and I don’t see them sold anywhere else, so). 

What to wear when the table dazzles? Alexander McQueen has a showstopper of an earring. A sculpted orchid in gold-plated brass or sterling silver ($1,584 per earring) that drops from a stem attached to the ear and falls past the collarbone in an explosion of ruffles and petals.  

Granted, Mom might not get much wear from it, “Oh, that thing again,” people will whisper after the fourth or fifth time out. If you’re lucky, in the long run, she’ll bequeath it to you. 

With all that table razzmatazz, a simple (but stunning) centerpiece is in order. Perhaps Ma’s been doing her Ikebana thing with a cereal bowl, kitchen scissors, and a frog for holding the stems? Time for an upgrade!  New York–based designer Ulla Johnson, in collaboration with Japanese artisans at Niwaki, has put together an Ikebana set that includes a bowl, little frogs (froglets?), and gorgeous carbon-steel secateurs, with handles wrapped in wisteria-rattan and a neat holster for storage, or hanging from your belt, garden-slinger style. $349.  

Speaking of slinging. A straw bag is just the thing for gathering the celery and delphinium at the farmer’s market—or from the garden. Italian design shop Sézane has a beauty in the Paloma, a raffia shoulder-bag carryall with, I suppose you’d call them, paniers on the sides for holding the phone and credit card. Handwoven in Madagascar, if it matters to Mom, she won’t see this one coming and going. (Sézane, by the way, has a pop-up shop in Georgetown this spring). $250. Mango has a more traditional boat-shaped offering, but with handles secured with decisive, dark brown leather knots, which really ups the style quotient. $159.99.

A mother with style requires a hat to match, and Banana Republic has some beauties,  including a straw fedora with an oversized brim to chicly shield the schnoz. The Rocky Straw Hat comes in cool vanilla or black, and is suitable for laboring or lunching. $80.

There is absolutely nothing elegant or chic or fetching about arms covered in scratches and bites and rashes, which is where Farmers Defense sleeves come in very handy, covering arms to the shoulders in sweat-wicking, sun-blocking fabric in a variety of colors and patterns including camo, leopard, sunflowers, and skulls (to help Mumsy recall her Hell’s Angels days). $22.95.

No matter the skill of the gardener, when words and pictures matter as much as flowers, a brilliant book sends the fertile brain into a creative revery. Such is Grounded in the Garden by Irish artist and brilliant gardener T J Maher, whose painterly eye has created a dazzling wonderland at his home in County Wicklow. Patthana, as it’s known, is unlike any garden you’ve ever seen, spilling with life and color, a fantasy you (or Mom) can only hope to re-create. Next week we’ll dig deeper into his style and techniques. Available now at Barnes and Noble and other bookstores, $45. 


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