Gifts from the Garden
When considering gifts for gardener friends, we might think of plants or tools. How about giving them something from your garden instead? These gifts are especially sincere because you’re giving away a piece of your own garden. You can give seed packets or plantable cards filled with your favorite heirloom seeds. Another idea is to collect stones and paint them with artwork or plant names on them. And even your non-gardening friends would appreciate dried herbs or teas that you grew yourself. Read on to learn how to create these heartfelt gifts from your garden.
If you have more saved seeds in your collection then you’ll ever be able to plant, consider sharing them with your friends. We’ve created a seed packet template for you to use, so all you need to do is print the template, fold it into an envelope, and then label the front. Not only will the recipient appreciate your tried-and-true seeds, but they will also enjoy seeing the beautiful seed packet in their collection. Click here to download the template (pdf).
If you’re feeling extra crafty, try making plantable cards. There are a few different techniques, but we will share the general process. First, collect any recyclable paper from around the house (just make sure none of it are glossy or coated). Then, shred the paper or tear it into small pieces and add to a blender. Fill the blender with water so you have twice as much water as paper. Next, blend the paper to a pulp with no chunks of paper left.
Transfer the pulp to a bowl and fold in your seeds. Now, you can either press the pulp flat on top of plastic wrap or parchment paper into a large sheet, or form it inside cookie cutters so it can dry into that shape. Make it as thin as you can so it will dry quickly and reduce the risk of your seeds sprouting prematurely. Blot the seed paper with towels to remove the excess moisture. Allow them to dry completely in a warm place with good air flow (you can use a heatless blow dryer to help speed this up). Once dry, your plantable cards are ready to cut and decorate! They also make nice gift tags if you punch a hole in the top and use a ribbon to tie it to another gift.
Share the flavors of your garden by gifting the herbs you’ve harvested. There are two ways to do this: you can either dry the herbs and gift them in a nice jar, or use fresh herbs to create an herb-infused vinegar. With either method, it’s important to follow safe food-handling methods. Instructions for both types of herb preservation are detailed in our article, Preserving Herbs and Spices.
Another flavorful gift is homegrown tea. Many of our common garden plants work well for teas, including yaupon holly, roselle, ginger, lemongrass, mint, and turmeric. Check out our full article on garden teas to learn about all of your options. Follow the same drying directions for teas as you would for herbs. For an elegant presentation, gift your tea in a nice jar or bag.
With cooler temperatures, our gardens may not look as vibrant during the holiday season. Give the gift of color with painted stone decorations. This is also a wonderful creative activity to do with children. Take a walk through your backyard and look for smooth stones that have the ideal surface for painting. If you can’t find any, you could always purchase stones at a garden or craft store—we won’t tell!
Then, wash the rocks and smooth them with sandpaper (if needed). Start with paint primer for more vivid color, or just start your design with acrylic paint for a subtler look. You can also use markers and paint pens to add detail. Once you’re done decorating your stones, seal them with an acrylic varnish to protect the paint. If the stones are placed outside without sealing them, the paint could eventually peel off during inclement weather. Tie a stack of stones together with ribbon for a lovely presentation.
Check with your local Extension office for more ideas, or even classes. Happy gift giving!