When you talk about incorporating homegrown elements into Christmas, we automatically think of Christmas dinner – and understandably so – but there is so much more you can bring in from the outside to add some festive cheer, from decorations through to gifts to make sure you Christmas is thoughtful, sustainable, and fun!
As we becoming more conscious of the environmental impacts of the festive season, we can look to consumables and natural gifts that show the receiver that you care, without contributing to masses of excess plastic waste. These ideas are also great options if you are feeling the pinch of the cost-of-living crisis, as can all be done relatively cheaply and easily, while still resulting in beautiful and well-thought gifts for those you love.
Clearing the plot at the end of the season often sees the majority of spent garden matter being added to the compost heap, but there could be new life in certain plants, leaves and stems, so don’t be hasty – they might be able to add a beautiful festive touch to your home.
Nothing says Christmas quite like a beautiful wreath hanging on the front door, and luckily, they are super easy to make and can be created using a wide variety of materials in all different styles. You will need to start by creating a base. Plants like willow are excellent for this, but you can also use dogwood, birch twigs, vines and the like. Alternatively, you can purchase pre-made rings in natural materials, or florist’s foam.
Once you have cut your base branches, twist these into a circle, tucking the ends in, overlapping as you go, to secure it, and tie in with florist’s wire if needed. Now it is time to decorate! You can go traditional, using evergreen foliage, holly leaves and berries, crab apples etc, or you can experiment with other types of foliage for a more contemporary look. Adding elements like rosehips and other berries not only makes your wreath look great, but also offers some much-needed winter sustenance to wildlife, too.
Whether you are trimming your tree, or creating feature pieces around the home, Christmas baubles always add a festive cheer, so why not try making some with bits and pieces from the garden? There are so many different options for home-made baubles – from pre-made clear baubles that you can fill with berries, pine cones and leaves, to sticks tied together in star shapes, and balls created from wire, with foliage pushed in to cover it, tied with ribbon. Decide on what aesthetic you’d like to go for, and also the materials you have to hand. As with wreaths, there are endless possibilities, whether you want to go for a traditional looking evergreen and red berry style, or plants with silvery white leaves and everything between.
We probably don’t have to convince you plants make great gifts, but we are sure even any friends and family who don’t have green fingers would see how lovely forced bulbs are. Hyacinths and daffodils are both perfect for this treatment. Find out how far in advance your chosen type needs to be started for best results. Choose your container (shallow and without drainage holes), spread a couple of inches of stones, marbles or gravel along the bottom, or bulb fibre/compost - whichever is your prepared method. Pop the bulbs on top of the stones with the pointed end facing upwards and add water. Keep in a cool location. For a full and detailed guide, head to the RHS website.
Vegetable and flower seeds saved from your own plants make a great gift – and you can personalise this further for the recipient by decorating the paper envelopes you put them in. Collect and thoroughly dry seeds from a variety of plants (do double check the types you are using are suitable for this before you start), then simply package in air tight containers, and label. Keep the seed packs away from humid environments, as this can cause rotting.
Hampers packed with delicious goodies always make for great gifts, and there is plenty of choice for the edible gardener. Jams, chutneys and jellies are traditional, while fruit leathers, cordials and flavoured alcoholic drinks are also brilliant choices. Cakes and bakes will also benefit from the tasty additions of berries and herbs, so get creative!
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