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Top 10: Phyte Club Holiday Gift List

Holiday shopping can be joyous, creative, and inspired. It can also completely suck. Here is a Top 10 list of suggestions for gifts for the types of folks who would be into something like, say, plants, metal, beer, and plants.

10.) Botanical Beauty: Garden Apothecary products from fellow blogger, gardener, and organic body product alchemist, Dirty

sugary, aphrodisiacal, smooth. What's not to love?

Girl Gardening. My favorite is the Eros sugar scrub — bergamont and ylang ylang essential oils, vanilla bean, anise star pod, and Vitamin E.

9.) Join the Club: Support the protection, propagation, and restoration of native plants! Get a friend a membership to the Native Plant Society in his or her state. Perks include discounts to events and access to a whole community of plant nerds.

8.) Design a Day: Do basically what I, once upon a time, tried to do with those Phyte Club hikes of yore (read about the first one, or the second). Find an excursion, typically a hike on a trail somewhere with plants, or maybe to a botanical garden or other flora-centric place. Bring some tasty beer for the tops of the hills, or fill your Camelback with it for constant sippage. Or, just wait and go to a neighborhood bar post-hike (don’t drive if you’ve been drinking, duh). Listen to some Sabbath in the car, or try to hit the Bruce Dickinson high notes from the peaks. Find a good jukebox, or best yet, cap the outdoorsy day with a killer show.


7.5.) Phyte Club Hat: If you want one, let me know. No promises, but I’m working on printing up another batch.

*photo from Ladies Brewing Club*

7.) Beer-making Kit: I have not been up, at all, on the make-yer-own-homebrew trend that’s been revolutionizing how we relate to our alcohol over the past five years or so. I think it’s a great movement, and have enjoyed many a friend’s delicious concoction. Maybe there are others out there like myself, who would if start mixing the yeasts and the malts and the hops and the water if there weren’t 500 other things they wanted to do, too. Why not jumpstart the learning process and get that lagger (lager? Heh heh) a beer-making kit, maybe from a place like Brewcraft in San Francisco? Perhaps one day the novice brewer will be experimenting with fun combinations like the Ladies Brewing Club does, such as Maple Stout and Lavander Honey Ale.

6.) Thematic Seed Collections: Go to a place like Alchemy Works, which has pre-assembled seed collections for all types of cool and useful gardens, including herbs for astral, lunar, witchy, and dyeing purposes. Or, create your own “garden design in a packet”. What about a plot devoted to herbs used in absinthe, or plants whose names are featured in metal songs (there are several species with varieties called “Ace of Spades”, for example, or take almost any song title from Botanist)? Or maybe plants that are good for detoxing the liver after a long night of partying or a whole tour of partying, such as milk thistle, dandelion, and dock.

5.) Coupons!: This is the perfect stocking stuffer for these shitty economic times. Remember when you were a kid and you’d give your parents a handmade book of coupons? “This is good for doing the dishes” or, “Use this and I’ll take out the trash”. Not that they wouldn’t just tell you to do any of those things anyhow. As adults the stakes are raised a bit. What about: “I will babysit your kids while you go to that metal show, since you haven’t been out for two years,” or “This is good for a long massage after you obliterate your neck headbanging,” or “Give me that 2XL Slayer shirt you haven’t been able to really look good in for years and I’ll take some scissors to it.” Cheap yet heartfelt.

Favorite books

4.) Books: For those in the Golden State, California’s Wild Gardens: A Guide to Favorite Botanical Sites (University of California Press, 1997) is a must-have for the wildflower enthusiast. It’s more like an atlas, deserving a permanent place in every Cali naturalist’s passenger-seat library, as it highlights over 100 botanical hot-spots from the Siskiyou Mountains near Oregon to San Diego’s vernal pools. For the beer-drinker with a green thumb, there’s The Homebrewer’s Garden (Joe Fisher and Dennis Fisher, 1998), for why should a “beer garden” only be a space to drink beer instead of to grow it, too? This is a super usable guide to growing and using hops, malts, and flavoring herbs, complete with recipes. Or what about Ozzy’s new advice book, Trust Me, I’m Dr. Ozzy: Advice for Rock’s Ultimate Survivor (Hachette Audio, 2011). Surprisingly, it’s getting pretty stellar reviews, supposedly full of wit, previously untold rock ‘n’ roll stories, and arguable health recommendations. A blank journal, accompanied by maybe a set of watercolor pencils or local field guide, is always a good standby for the contemplative ecologist.

3.) Antarctica shirt: When people see me wearing this shirt, their reaction has three stages, without fail. Stage 1: “Fuck yeah! Metallica! Wooo!” Stage 2: Eventually, they recognize that what they thought said “Metallica” actually reads “Antarctica” but in Metallica font. Below is a picture of, what’s that? Some oddly shaped, dripping blue and white mass. And why does it say, “Farewell Tour”? Oh! A melting glacier. Ha ha! That’s fuckin’ funny! 3.) Oh shit, that sucks. Not very funny. Really lame and sad, actually. I LOVE this shirt. More people should have it. It’s like environmental education through a metal shirt and intelligent trickery.

so funny, so true, so fucked up

2.) Music, duh: Any one of dozens of new metal releases. This link has a long list of ‘em, plus some to look forward to in the new year. (Speaking of the New Year, here’s a personal resolution: Spend a day going through this list and exploring it as I would a mountain full of species, some new some old!)

1.) Tickets!: Slayer, Sleep, and the Melvins are all playing at All Tomorrow’s Parties in London the weekend of May 25th, 2012. A ticket to that would be rad, and a plane ticket, too, for anyone who doesn’t reside in or around London. Maybe we should all plan a trip out there for it, checking out some British flora along the way and getting wasted in pubs (I’ve heard old English gardens have bonsai-ed Ceanothus and Fremontodendron californicum planted in nooks in stone walls….Cool!). Oh wait. Is this my Christmas list?


6 comments to Top 10: Phyte Club Holiday Gift List

  • Pat

    If you get to London I would recommend visiting the Chelsea Physic Garden. Small but delightful and rather old. Beware the weird opening times/days.

    You know about Kew Gardens, of course. You will need at least two days to look round even if you walk very fast. The Welwitschia mirabilis must be even bigger now. The Order Beds are fun, but they must look very different from the last time I saw them as they are nearing the end of 4 years of rearranging them to reflect the latest taxonomy. 93 families in 102 beds, mostly represented by economically useful members of the families. Set off early if you are in Central London, it is on the western edge of the Underground system. Alexandra Palace is in the north.

    I can’t recommend any pubs, I haven’t been to London for 10 years or more.

    In the warmer months many private gardens across the country are open for charity (and to show off). Each neighbourhood or town will only be organising for a few days or a week but there will always be something. If you are lucky you will find some gnome-inhabited gardens or some original art. Details can be found at

    Sandy Wildlife is a good blog for seeing some of the rarer plants in the Home Counties (the counties near London).

  • Pat — Thanks! All these recommendations are killer. I’ve been wanting to go to the Chelsea Physic Garden for a while now, and of course, Kew. It is, unfortunately, HIGHLY unlikely I’ll make it to London for the show. I mean, there’s about a negative ten percent chance. But, we’ll see. Stranger things…..

  • Nen

    Just found your website and I love it! Botany and metal (not to mention beer) are my favorite things in the world; Phyte Club is PERFECT!

  • Nen — Whoa, thanks! Glad you found it. I have a ton of fun writing it (though of course, it’s more fun to do the “research”, be it hiking around fondling leaves or going to shows). It is really nice to know other people feel the same way. A couple questions, if you’re still there: Where are you writing from and how did you find the site?

  • That t-shirt! Brilliant![shakes piggy bank]Hmm!

  • Nen

    Hey! I’m from New Jersey. I think I originally found this site following some like to your Botanist interview, but I don’t remember exactly where that link was.

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