We once drove down to Dorset to visit a friend who had quit the rat race to raise her new family in one of those dreamy old english villages. To say she had 'gone native' was an understatement. In one seemingly gigantic step, she had graduated from a small two bed flat in London to a beautiful old thatched cottage complete with Aga and authentic low beams. No word of a joke, my husband and I were salivating before we even reached the front door. In addition to this, they had a rambling garden that climbed all the way up to the top of a little hill in which they kept bantams and grew all of their own vegetables. Sigh. Anyway, I digress. I was staying for a few nights and I needed to find them an appropriate gift to thank them for their hospitality. Now, I confess that I have been guilty of turning up with the odd bottle of wine (good stuff) on certain occasions and there's very little wrong with that if followed up with a nice, handwritten note, but, given the drama of their lifestyle change, something was holding me back from doing so now. Even a good bottle of red seemed too paltry an offering, so I found an old balsa wood crate, cleaned it up a bit and filled it to the brim with farmer's market fresh herbs and vegetables. I figured she could have lots of fun on the Aga with the produce and use the crate for something practical to keep plants in in the garden afterwards.
How much more spectacular would my gift have been if only I had known about Growing Gifts. This Cornflower Blue Apple Crate £16.50 (L30 x H21.5 x H16cm) can be personalised with up to fourteen letters per line and makes the perfect vessel for a present to say thank you or anything else for that matter. The picture suggests that it works just as well as a unique wedding gift. I also now have my mother (a keen gardener) in mind for Mother's Day. So versatile and shows both thought and originality. And so far as treating someone goes, it doesn't get much better than that.