How many people keep their children’s drawings, cards and letters? I certainly do. They are precious memories that are valuable because of the time and thought that have gone into them. We are especially lucky at the nursery at Christmas because we are all involved in the creative process in making wreaths, decorations and planting up gift baskets. Anyone of any age can plant a basket, so if you are looking for a special gift that you or your child can make, then why not consider doing this?
You can often buy a simple wicker basket in a florist, garden centre or even a charity shop. 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.
What is important is to have a mixture of plants that give a variety in height and texture. When you are buying your plants then take the basket with you. It is helpful to judge how many plants you need. Sit them inside and check that the basket looks full.
- Everyone likes a mini conifer which looks like a mini Christmas tree or you can use a pretty evergreen shrub in a small pot such as Euonymous, Skimmia or Hebe. They generally look better if they are varieties with small leaves.
- You need to add something with winter colour such as cyclamen, violas or primroses.
- Then you need a plant that covers the remaining earth in the basket and looks fresh. Alpines often do the trick such as Thyme or miniature Sedum.
- Often it is nice to have something that trails like Ivy or Lysimachia.
Planting the basket
Fill the basket almost to the top with multipurpose compost then arrange your plants in a way you like. It is worth taking a few moments to decide which way the plants should face so that the leaves overlap slightly, the fronds trail over the side and the flowers are facing the front.
The Finishing Touches
This is when you can go to town and be as ‘Christmassy’ and sparkly as you wish. You can use red, gold or Christmas themed ribbon to thread around the basket or tie onto the handles. I usually make bows and leave long tails of ribbon to trail down the basket, around the sides or over any handles. Next you need to look carefully and find out if there are 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 decoration 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. I hope that you will enjoy making it as much as they enjoy receiving it!