5 gifts from the garden

The Christmas season is quickly approaching and with it the struggle to come up with creative present ideas. Look at your garden with fresh eyes and see it’s potential as a source of great garden gifts says Tony Stacey.

Tony Stacey
Tony Stacey

This guest post comes from Tony Stacey, marketing manager at the Horticultural Trades Association (HTA), the organisation who administer the National Garden Gift Voucher Scheme. HTA are the leading trade association representing the UK garden industry. Tony is incredibly passionate about promoting gardening campaigns to children and non-gardeners to get the nation more green fingered and inspired to grow their own own food.

If only we could be as efficient as those Christmas elves, putting together hundreds of thoughtful presents each day. Well now you can. Put your garden to work for you. You’ll see it can generate all kinds of unique homemade gifts, save you money and giving a personal gift with personality.

Miniature herb garden in a pot

Miniature herb garden:

If you are running out of ‘thyme’ (forgive the pun!) and need inspiration for a garden themed Christmas gift – look no further. You can buy specially made herb garden planters from most garden centres, but for the true homemade Christmas gift why not build one yourself. You can create miniature herb gardens out of anything. Gather your tin cans, mason jars and broken kettles (yes, we’re serious!). To decorate get a little creative– for example paint them or add a personal message or mount them on a piece of wood. Then add the herbs – there’s a huge range of herb plants available at garden centres now.

Rustic bird feeder

Rustic bird feeder:

A rustic bird feeder makes an excellent present to give to your friends and family. For the most natural look choose a section of log from the garden or woodland. You’ll need some bird food/suet balls. Measure the diameter of the ball, and mark a similar sized circle up on your log. Select the same sized drill bit and create a hole in the log to place your suet seed ball. The birds will need somewhere to perch to get at these tasty treats, so drill a small hole underneath the suet seed ball hole. Select a strong, suitably sized twig and place in the small hole. Secure the twig with wood glue or adhesive. Hang in a tree using wire not string, allowing your birds to feast on the tasty and nutritious food. It’s a great way to treat your friends and family to the sound of birdsong in the garden. What could make a more perfect gardening themed present?

Homemade catnip toy

Herbal catnip toy:

Catnip toys are a lovely present for friends with feline companions. Research shows 60-80% of cats adore this garden herb, which causes them to perform a fascinating frolicking dance that is a joy to observe. Choose a shape for your catnip toy.  Trace a template onto two layers of fabric and cut out the shapes.

Sew the seams together from the inside – be sure to leave a space to hand-stich the final closing. You need some dried catnip; you can buy some, or dry the leaves of garden catnip (Nepeta) in a greenhouse or on a sunny windowsill. Before you close up the shape, fill with catnip and cotton wool scraps. For endless fun and amusement tie on a long piece of string so you can run around your house with your cat in hot pursuit!

Jars of homemade jam

Homemade jam:

The garden is a perfect source of fruit for homemade jam, or if you don’t have access to homegrown fruit, buy some from the farmers market or beg some from a gardening friend with a surplus. Bottle into small pretty jars, add a piece of fabric over the lid and tie on a decorative bow. Make a personal label and you’ve got the perfect gift from your garden. A thoughtful present for visiting friends, especially those without their own garden and produce.

Herbal teabags

Herbal tea bags:

Homemade teabags are simple but delightful. Make sure you know your plants before you start. Source yourself some DIY self-fill tea bags. Pick and dry some samples of your favourite edible herbs from the garden and experiment; try a minty blend of peppermint and spearmint for a refreshing, mood-boosting tea, or for morning pick me up try a rosemary tea. Pack the bags into pretty gift boxes as little garden gifts.

Miniature herb garden in a pot
Rustic bird feeder
Homemade catnip toy
Jars of homemade jam
Herbal teabags

Feeling inspired?

All that’s left to do is leave you to get creative. If you’re feeling inspired please do tweet a picture of your gift creations at @RJGarden.

For herb-spiration, check out National Garden Gift Vouchers competition to give away 25-herb garden packs brimming with thyme, sage, mint, coriander and basil. They’d make a wonderful Christmas presents too. The competition runs until the end of December 2015.