Now that we are harvesting and bedding down our gardens for the winter, our thoughts may naturally turn to sharing or “gifting” some of our bounty. Distinctive and personalized gifts can come straight from our garden, but if you are like me, you may be at a loss in creating those gifts. In preparation for this article, I stumbled upon a used book titled, glorious gifts from the garden, inspirational projects from the potting shed, written by a British author, Stephanie Donaldson. The first two projects are taken from her book, specifically her herb garden chapter.
I am planning this first gift for my friend who is reluctant to try herb gardening or cooking with fresh herbs. I'm hoping this will inspire her to try both. Following are instructions for a “bouquet garni” planted in a small moss-lined crate. Herbs for bouquet garni are typically parsley, thyme, and bay leaves tied into a posy with string to flavor stews, soups, and sauces. Rosemary is sometimes added as well.
Materials and Equipment:
Wooden crate, approximately 10x8x6 in.
16 in. sisal rope
Permanent marker pen
Liquid seaweed plant food
Small bay tree
2 parsley plants
1. To make the handles, drill 2 holes in each end of the wooden crate. Thread an 8 in. pieces of sisal rope through the holes and knot on the inside to secure.
2. Use the permanent marker to write on the front and back of the crate – “Bouquet Garni.”
3. To give the crate a weathered appearance, mix 1 part seaweed plant food with 1 part water and paint the exterior.
4. Line the crate with moss, the bottom as well as sides.
5. Plant the herbs with 3 parts compost and 1-part coarse sand. Press the plants in firmly and cover with more moss. Water thoroughly.
Bouquet Garni Posy
Materials and Equipment:
Selection of freshly picked herbs
Trug or basket (optional)
1. Gather some parsley, thyme, and bay leaves, leaving 4 in. or more of the stems.
2. Condition the herbs, standing them in deep water for 3 hours or more.
3. Spread the herbs out, in groups, on a work surface.
4. Assemble the posy, holding it loosely in one hand, while adding and adjusting the herbs with the other hand.
5. When satisfied with the arrangement, tie the posy firmly with string.
6. Trim the ends of the stems and tie the ribbon over the string.
This posy may be given in a basket, trug, or simply tied with a ribbon for a hostess gift. If you would like to dry the posy, wrap it in craft paper rolled into a cone-shape. Tie the cone with string towards the bottom and hang upside down to dry.
This last gift idea may not be directly from your garden, but it would be appreciated by any of your Master Gardener friends!
Sore Muscle Soak
½ cup baking soda
¼ cup Epsom salts
¼ cup coarse sea salt
10 drops eucalyptus essential oil
Combine the baking soda, Epsom salt, and sea salt in a plastic bag and seal tightly. Shake the bag vigorously, add the essential oil, and shake again. Package in cellophane gift bags, muslin bags or decorative jars with a lid.
Yield = about 1 cup.
Add 1/3 cup of these soothing bath salts to a tub of hot water.
1. glorious gifts from the garden, inspirational projects from the potting shed. Stephanie Donaldson. Lorenz Books, New York, NY. 2002
2. The Bountiful Kitchen. Barry Bluestein and Kevin Morrisey. Penguin Putnam Inc., New York, NY. 1997