Use the beautiful bounty from your yard to create homegrown gifts from the garden.
Depending on where you live, the gardening season may be long over or coming to a close. But your garden can keep on giving long after the season has changed or the plants are gone. Share the bounty in the form of a housewarming, hostess, thank-you or holiday gift.
To enjoy flowers longer, air-dry some of your favorite long-lasting blossoms, like hydrangeas, coneflowers or roses. Once dry, they can be used in dried flower arrangements, wreaths, potpourri or other craft projects.
For more delicate flowers, consider pressing. The best choices for pressing are blooms that are already fairly flat, like pansies, daisies and violets. You can put them between the pages of a heavy book (after first placing blossoms between two sheets of newsprint or paper towels), or buy a simple press. After several weeks, you can use these little beauties to decorate bookmarks, jewelry or note cards; or arrange them in multiples and frame them. Also try pressing herbs and interesting leaves.
The taste of the garden, too, can last well past the growing season, as all of us who freeze and can produce know. But if you grow herbs, think about drying them for use in homemade flavored vinegars, seasoning blends and herbal teas. They also add a nice touch to store-bought jams.
It’s so tempting to stash away ripe seeds from plants we’re particularly fond of. How else can you say goodbye to an amazing flower or prolific vegetable plant? But you might want to share some of your seeds with a fellow gardener. Make your own seed packets to tuck into gift baskets or use them as party place cards.
Or give rooted cuttings from a garden or houseplant. Transplant them to small pots—personalize by painting or adding decals, if you like—and they’re ready to go. Even recipients who don’t have green thumbs can enjoy these treats for a little while!
Got gourds in your garden? Make a birdhouse from a dried gourd for a birding friend or your own feathered friends. The most popular variety for this simple project is a bottle gourd, with a bulbous base and a neck long enough to attach a wire for hanging.
A little homegrown beauty from the heart of your garden is sure to make your gifts personal, memorable and much appreciated.
Ann Wied is consumer horticulture educator for the UW-Extension in Waukesha County, Wisconsin.