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
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.
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”