Made for Christ­mas

What more per­fect gift for plant lovers than a colour­ful bas­ket that can last more than just 12 days? Ruth Goudy shows you how

EADT Suffolk - - Home From Home - Paul and Ruth Goudy run Kiln Farm Nurs­ery, Kes­grave. www.kil­n­farm.com. Ruth is run­ning work­shops for chil­dren to cre­ate a gift bas­ket at Kiln Farm Nurs­ery on Wed­nes­day De­cem­ber 20.

HOW many peo­ple keep their chil­dren’s draw­ings, cards and let­ters? I cer­tainly do. They’re pre­cious me­men­toes that are valu­able be­cause of the time and thought that have gone into them. Some­times I think we get car­ried away with Christ­mas presents and for­get that it re­ally is ‘the thought that counts’. And it’s fun to cre­ate some­thing with a loved one in mind.

At the nurs­ery at Christ­mas we’re all in­volved in mak­ing wreaths, dec­o­ra­tions and plant­ing up gift bas­kets. Any­one of any age can plant a bas­ket, so if you’re look­ing for a gift that your child can make for fam­ily mem­bers, why not have a go? Bas­kets can prove dif­fi­cult to find, and they can be ex­pen­sive, but of­ten you can buy a sim­ple wicker bas­ket in a florist, gar­den cen­tre or even a char­ity shop.

THE PLANTS

It’s im­por­tant to have a mix­ture of plants that give a va­ri­ety in height and tex­ture. Look for at least one that has fo­liage that will cover the earth and some­thing that has flow­ers to brighten up the bas­ket. Most pop­u­lar are small conifers, cy­cla­men and trail­ing ivy, but al­ter­na­tives in­clude flow­er­ing prim­roses, vi­o­las, se­dums and trail­ing lysi­machia. Any minia­ture ev­er­green shrub with small leaves can work, such as eu­rony­mous, skim­mia, heather or hebe. When you’re buy­ing your plants take the bas­ket with you so you can judge how many plants you need. Sit them in­side and check that the bas­ket looks full.

AR­RANG­ING THE PLANTS

Make sure that your bas­ket has a wa­ter­proof lin­ing and there are no holes in the base. It would be aw­ful if some­one waters their gift and ends up with a wa­ter­mark on their best din­ing room ta­ble. If nec­es­sary cut out an old, thick, plas­tic bag to line the bas­ket, mak­ing sure the edges come to the brim of the bas­ket but can­not be seen over the top. Fill the bas­ket al­most to the top with mul­ti­pur­pose com­post then ar­range your plants how­ever you like. De­cide which way the plants should face so that the leaves over­lap slightly, the fronds trail over the side and the flow­ers face the front.

ADD SOME SPARKLE

The fin­ish­ing touches are the most fun. You can go to town and be as ‘Christ­massy’ and sparkly as you wish. If you have a plain bas­ket you can use red, gold or Christ­mas themed rib­bon to thread around the bas­ket or tie onto the han­dles. I usu­ally make bows by wiring the cen­tre and leav­ing long tails of rib­bon to trail down the bas­ket, around the sides or over any han­dles. Look for any ‘holes’ in your cre­ation. View the bas­ket from ev­ery an­gle and you will gen­er­ally find that there are a cou­ple of ‘bald’ patches of earth. You can use any­thing to fill those gaps. If you like the nat­u­ral look then a cou­ple of fir cones or cin­na­mon sticks work well, but you can add Christ­mas cheer us­ing baubles and dec­o­ra­tions if you want more colour. My favourite are the mini bells and tiny cubes wrapped up like presents. You can just place them in the bas­ket or you can cre­ate a tiny peg, us­ing a wooden stem and wire the ar­ti­cle onto the peg. The peg then slips into the earth to an­chor the dec­o­ra­tion in place.

At the end of the process you will have a unique gift for some­one that they will en­joy over the Christ­mas pe­riod and all the plants can be saved and put in the gar­den to last into the New Year. We hope that you will en­joy mak­ing it as much as they en­joy re­ceiv­ing it!

Wish­ing you a happy Christ­mas and peace­ful new year from ev­ery­one at Kiln Farm Nurs­ery.

“I usu­ally make bows by wiring the cen­tre and leav­ing long tails of rib­bon to trail down the bas­ket, around the sides or over any han­dles”

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