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A Year of Gifts from the Garden

January 1, 2010

Jean's Garden 2010 calendar cover (photo credit: Jean Potuchek) This year, I decided to share my garden with family and friends all year long by having wall calendars made of photos from my garden and giving them as gifts.  I have been thinking about this gift idea for several years; and if I had known how easy it would be, I might have done it sooner.

A number of national office supply and printing chains offer personalized calendars. I ended up using the FedEx Store’s calendar service because they have a store near me and I was able to go there and actually look at the quality of what they were offering.  I would have liked a larger art calendar format, but the biggest size on offer was 8 1/2 x 11, so I went with that. Since I wanted to link the calendar to this blog, I used the blog title and header photo for the cover of the calendar, and I pasted a label on the back cover of each calendar with the blog gravatar and web address.

The real fun of this project was choosing the photographs for the calendar. Since the cover photo represents high summer in my garden, I also used it for July. It would have been nice to use photos representing how my garden looks each month, but this is a Maine garden; four photos of snow and one of mud would not really be very appealing! In the end, I included only one snowy picture, for December (and I hope Rosey is flattered rather than offended by my borrowing the idea of her much more dramatic winter blog header photo). For January, I referenced the white (of snow) and green (of conifers) of my garden in winter by using a photo of white flowers and green foliage. I’m not sure why a blue flower seemed right for February, or pink and white for March, but they did. The violet and yellow colors of the April photo are colors I have long associated with Easter. For May-November, I used photos that were taken in that month or in an adjacent month. Here are the photos I ended up with:

Tradescantia 'Danielle' (photo credit: Jean Potuchek) Siberian iris (photo credit: Jean Potuchek)
January – Tradescantia x andersoniana ‘Danielle’ February – Iris sibirica
Tradescantia 'Pink Chablis' (photo credit: Jean Potuchek) Allium giganteum 'Globemaster' (photo credit: Jean Potuchek)
March – Tradescantia x andersoniana ‘Pink Chablis’ April – Allium giganteum ‘Globemaster’ with visiting butterfly
May June
May – the deck border in early summer June – Baptisia australis and Iris sibirica
July August
July – high summer in the blue and
yellow border
August – Hemerocallis ‘Mary Todd’
September October
September – Heliopsis ‘Bressingham Doubloon’ and Liatris spicata ‘Floristan White’ with visiting butterfly October – morning glories (Ipomoea ‘Heavenly Blue’) blooming on the garden fence
November December
November – fall foliage on Spirea
x‘Magic Carpet’
December – white pine with snow

Once I had chosen my photos, I went to the FedEx Store website, selected a calendar design from the dozens available, and uploaded my photos, tweaking and cropping as I went along. (I used the “add text” feature of the software that came with my Canon camera for the cover title.) The following evening, I received an email that my calendars had been printed and were being shipped. Less than three days after that, they were delivered to my door. I placed the order on Monday afternoon and had the finished calendars in my hand on Friday morning, all without having to leave the house.

Just as with gardening, I learned some things from this process that I would do differently the next time. Some of the color values in the printed calendars were a bit “off;” this was especially true for the blues, which are notoriously difficult to reproduce and which ended up looking more muddy and purplish than clear blue. This made the pages with close-ups of blue flowers disappointing, and I will probably avoid blue close-ups in the future. The next time, I would probably also pay a little extra for the heavier paper option.  One gift calendar I received for Christmas, produced by a local birding club as a fundraiser, had a format that I liked better than the options available from FedEx; I intend to contact them to find out where they had it produced.

My friends and family loved receiving these calendars, so I will definitely do this again. Meanwhile, let me take the opportunity to wish all of you a happy and flower-filled 2010!

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38 Comments leave one →
  1. January 1, 2010 8:33 am

    What a great idea! I just may have to do the same thing next year. I loved your choices of photos.

    Always Growing

  2. January 1, 2010 8:58 am

    HI Jean: LIZA AND JOHN’S GARDEN enjoyed our visit today. It’s always a pleasure to visit Jean’s Garden.

    Have a Great Day,

  3. January 1, 2010 9:50 am

    That is a wonderful idea! Sounds pretty easy to do, as well. I think I will have to check into doing that for gifts. Thanks for sharing, Jean.

  4. January 1, 2010 9:55 am

    Great idea that I’m going to make a note of for next year. I’ve been using an online site for making photo Christmas cards (, and they also offer several calendar options. Will check it out. Thanks for the idea.

  5. January 1, 2010 10:06 am

    Jean, you chose wonderful images for your calendar! The iris is absolutely stunning. I wish the blue color was more cooperative. I wasn’t lucky with pink on my geranium calendar page – it looked gorgeous on the computer screen, but artificial in the calendar. And the size, yes, a bigger would be better in my case too. Happy New Year!

  6. January 1, 2010 10:13 am

    happy new year Jean!!! what a wonderful idea of a calender. simply beautiful photos and florals! my plan for today is to curl up with my Fedco and Johnny’s seed catalogs and get that seed order in soon. wishes for a wonderful new year 🙂 — Allison

  7. January 1, 2010 10:34 am

    What a wonderful project! You have given me the inspiration that I am sorely lacking in regards to a series of blank greeting cards using my onw garden photographs. I love that the garden can stay with you throughout the year when made into a calendar. Don’t be too critical of the results, I am sure they are all proudly displayed in the homes where you gifted them, with narry a concern about blue looking like purple! (the horror!) LOL! Have a wonderfully prosperous, healthy and green 2010!

  8. January 1, 2010 11:12 am

    I love the sequence of colors through the year, great choices.

    A calendar is a wonderful idea for a practical yet beautiful gift that lasts all year.

  9. January 1, 2010 5:35 pm

    This is a brilliant idea. Your have chosen the pictures well and this shows your good taste. It is in fact better than many table calendar pictures I see around here. Cheers! Happy New Year 2010!

  10. January 1, 2010 5:40 pm

    Jean, I’m sorry I gave the wrong profile (autumnbella) in my earlier comment. You see, I am experimenting with wordpress using a test blog. To reach me, do use my google blogger profile. I hope I get it right this time.

  11. January 1, 2010 7:25 pm

    Beautiful calendar! You have very lucky friends! I love the Iris picture you chose for February, it’s stunning.

    • Jean permalink*
      January 1, 2010 11:07 pm

      I’m so happy that this gift idea struck a chord with so many of you; it’s great to have such positive feedback.

      Amy, Barbara, Jan, Autmn Belle, and Rebecca, This really was amazingly easy to do (as Tatyana can probably attest, too, from her experience). I encourage you to give it a try. And, Barbara, thanks for including the link to a European source of personalized calendars.

      Nell, I agree with you that calendars make great gifts because they manage to be both practical and beautiful. I love receiving beautiful calendars, and I love giving them. I was a little nervous that some of the recipients may have found these a bit self-indulgent, but they didn’t; people loved getting them.

      And, Teza, you’re right; the recipients were not critical of the color values. In fact, both my mother and my sister-in-law picked the page that I was most disappointed in, the October morning glories, as their favorite. But you can’t tell me — given your strong feelings about blue flowers — that you wouldn’t be disappointed if your blue flowers printed out looking purple (and muddy purple at that). Be honest; you know you would!

      Tatyana, I was interested to hear that it was pink that didn’t print true on your calendar.

      John, thanks for visiting. I was happy to hear that Mozart was not too much worse for the wear from his adventure.

      Allison, it’s great to have your voice back in the blogosphere! I hope your holidays were great. Did you see the comment I left on your blog that I made your cranberry sauce recipe for Christmas? Yummy!

  12. January 1, 2010 11:29 pm

    I like this new blog layout. Very fresh.
    nice photos.
    Happy New year!

  13. January 1, 2010 11:42 pm

    Hello Jean,

    What a wonderful idea. I may have to try one for next year. Thank you for the useful tips. I am very happy to have ‘met’ you this past year and look forward to visits in your garden this coming year.

  14. January 2, 2010 9:46 am

    What beautiful images, and a wonderful gift! I wish you a happy New Year filled with happiness, health, and gardening! I look forward to your posts in 2010! 🙂

  15. Kate permalink
    January 2, 2010 8:09 pm

    The calendars are special gifts. Your photo choices are wonderful. I used to make calendars with family photos when I was still using a film camera. This will be my first full year with both a garden to photograph and a digital camera capable of reproduction quality photos. I did some postcards with garden photos, this year, but was thinking of calendars for next year. You’ve inspired my creative eye to watch for suitable photo opportunities throughout the coming year. 🙂

  16. January 2, 2010 10:17 pm

    What a beautiful selection Jean! I am certain your friends and family are delighted. This is something I always say I will do but never get it together! Clever to use your blog title too! You are an inspiration. All Best in this New Year! Carol

  17. January 3, 2010 1:49 am

    What a great idea! I’m sure everyone loved their gifts. I’m going to keep this in mind for next year.

    • Jean permalink*
      January 3, 2010 8:25 pm

      Rosey, I hope you recognized your influence on the December photo.

      Noelle and Liisa, Thanks for the New Year’s wishes. I am, of course, looking forward to a year full of wonderful blogs to read, including yours.

      Kate, Carol and Catherine, I hope you will consider this gift option for next year. Kate, you’re right that once you have it in mind, you start to take, edit and archive photos with calendar possibilities in mind. Carol, I didn’t do this last year because, like you, I didn’t feel like I had gotten my act together in time. This year, I was already feeling behind when I went into the FedEx Store and asked how much lead time they would need to produce such calendars. When they answered, “2 days,” my jaw dropped. They were true to their word, too; the calendars were shipped less than 48 hours after I placed the order. So it turns out that this is a gift possibility even for those of us who are procrastinators!

  18. January 3, 2010 2:38 pm

    I like how technology has made something like making our own calendars an affordable option for most of us. I did a calendar a few years ago, thinking I’d give it out to family and to a few people in the professional photo world. But like you, I realized that the color reproduction possibilities were tricky. In the end the slightly color-shifted calendars were okay for friends and family, but nothing I wanted out in the photo world representing me. I could see that going back and forth through several generations of color correction might lead to good results, however, so that you’d be sure that photos manipulated with a standard color balance would give results close to your intentions.

    I hadn’t thought of doing one derived from my garden and blog, but it’s a terrific idea. Thanks for sharing the idea.

  19. January 3, 2010 3:53 pm

    Beautiful photos, Jean. What a welcome site to be able to view your garden’s bounty from my computer while the January wind is howling outside my windows.

  20. January 3, 2010 5:24 pm

    Hi Jean~~ What is a “gravatar”? Anything like an avatar? Just curious. I’m trying to stay current with all of this tek-speak.

    Your calendar is beautiful. You know something is a hit when YOU would like one yourself. My favorite is the April photo. The swallowtail on the Allium is my favorite. September’s monarch on the Liatris is cool too.

    Best wishes for a floral-filled 2010 to you too.

    • Jean permalink*
      January 3, 2010 8:32 pm

      James, I like your idea about being able to predict and preemptively correct the color distortions of the production process — although I’ll have to learn more about color photography to pull this off.

      Joene, I’m happy to be able to provide some garden color for both of us during this stormy weekend.

      Grace, the April and September photos are favorites of mine, too; it’s hard to resist butterflies in the garden. I don’t know whether “gravatar” is a standard blog term or just wordpress-speak. Anyway, a gravatar is an image that you choose to represent yourself. I think it differs from avatar in that an avatar is animated and a gravatar is a still image. (If anyone else has a better explanation, please jump in. I must confess that 30 years as a college professor has left me very adept at making up a plausible explanation when I don’t know the answer to a question 🙂 !)

  21. January 4, 2010 1:12 am

    GREAT IDEA!!!!!! wonderful!

  22. January 4, 2010 10:16 am

    Your calendar looks beautiful! I love the pictures you chose. I wanted to do this for Christmas presents, but got too busy.

    You’ve convinced me to add it to the list for next year’s gifts. I think they are a great idea!

    • Jean permalink*
      January 5, 2010 2:21 pm

      Nadia and Annie, It makes me happy that so many of my fellow garden bloggers liked this gift idea. Annie, see my reply above to Carol; even if you’re a procrastinator (like I am), this is a gift that can be created at the 11th (or at least the 10th!) hour.

  23. January 5, 2010 4:47 pm

    Jean lovely calendar! I have made one of these each year for my mom back in Boston — one with my garden photos, and one with family photos. Try, since they also let you import and save events for each month, ie family birthdays, which are printed out in tiny text inside the box on that day, like a normal calendar lists special events like ‘new moon’ or ‘martin luther king jr. day’.

    This year I selfishly did something different because a yearful of my garden pics would be somewhat ‘lost’ after the year is past. I used which let me self-publish a whole book of my garden pictures. I’d won a little photo comp that gave me 2 prints of a book, otherwise it’s a bit expensive to do! But the print quality is amazing…the blues are very true, for instance, on a macro closeup of muscari.

    Like you I thoroughly enjoyed selecting photos for each month. I found that doing this yearly exercise also influences my photography throughout the year now, as I keep in mind trying to have something for each month, even if it’s not from my own personal garden.

    • Jean permalink*
      January 5, 2010 5:52 pm

      Sheila, The book prize sounds wonderful; good for you! At this point, I don’t think I have enough really good photos to make a whole book, but it’s certainly something to aspire to.

      Thanks very much for the link to snapfish. Unlike many of the other calendar vendors, they actually have larger sizes than the standard 8 1/2 x 11 — a 12 x12 size and a 11 x 14 size. I’ll definitely keep them in mind for next year.

  24. January 6, 2010 10:53 am

    Great idea with fabulous shots from your garden, Jean! Enjoyed being mesmerized by your display, lovely blend of colours!
    Best wishes for a very blessed New Year with good health and lots of joy from your garden.

    • Jean permalink*
      January 6, 2010 10:15 pm

      Happy New Year to you too Jacq~!

  25. January 7, 2010 12:31 am

    The blue and yellow flower composition in the banner of your blog, is breathtaking. The close up photos of the day lilies are world class. I need to visit this site more often just to drink in the beauty of the photography.
    I am so happy to have stumbled upon your blog.

    • Jean permalink*
      January 7, 2010 10:31 am

      Allan, I’m a fan of your blog, so I’m very pleased to have you take positive notice of mine. I must admit that I think of myself more as a writer than as a photographer, so having you visit my blog for the photography will give me a good incentive to improve my photography technical knowledge and skills.

  26. January 8, 2010 5:14 pm

    These are all so beautiful! What a lovely calendar and what a wonderful gift!

  27. January 14, 2010 8:07 pm

    What gorgeous pictures! I’m laughing because if I did something like that, all the shots would have to be macro shots since I don’t have mature enough beds to make nice big views. But you have a nice mix of closeup and wide view. Very nice.

    • Jean permalink*
      January 14, 2010 11:02 pm

      VW, It turned out that the favorite pictures among the recipients of my calendar gifts were the macro shots; so if you decide to try your own calendar, you have nothing to worry about!


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