Mother’s Day Gift Ideas from the Garden
Grow It Forward
If you’re a gardener, chances are that you learned your love of nature from a parent or grandparent. This year for Mother’s Day, why not “grow it forward”?
Give your children a lesson in gardening, love, and gratitude. Teach them how to make Mother’s Day gifts from the garden for their mother, grandmothers, and great-grandmothers.
Below are step-by-step instructions for a number of easy homemade gifts. Some take weeks to create; others only half an hour.
Make one of them or all of them. The moms in your child’s life will be glad you did.
Long-term Projects (2 Weeks or More)
For residents of the U.S., Canada, and Australia, Mother's Day falls on the second Sunday in May. Mothering Day is celebrated in the U.K. and Ireland exactly 3 weeks before Easter.
No matter where you live, start the following projects at least 2 weeks before you'll give them as gifts. None of them take long to create, but each requires time to develop--as well as a little tending.
Sweet & Simple
Herbed sugar in a pretty jar is a sweet gift any herb grower can give. To make it, all you need is a spoon, an airtight container, and the following ingredients:
- 3 to 4 sprigs of fresh herb
- 2 C. granulated sugar
Snip off 3 or 4 sprigs for every 2 cups that you make. Lavender or any type of mint is a good choice.
Wash the herbs in cool water and allow them to dry. Then, using the back of a spoon, crush the sprigs to release their oils. The scent will be very strong.
Place the crushed sprigs in a large-mouthed airtight container. Pour in the sugar 1/4 cup at a time, stirring well after each addition.
Place the jar in your kitchen cabinet or some other dark, cool location. Every 2 to 3 days, stir it, or let your kids give it a good shake. This will not only distribute herbs throughout the sugar, but it will also keep it from clumping. Eventually, the sprigs will become dry and break into small pieces.
Herb-infused sugars are delicious in tea, lemonade, homemade jam, and cookies. Nice companion gifts include a teacup and saucer, a box of tea, and/or cookie recipes.
Gifts That Keep on Growing
A Cutting Garden
Cuttings are a thoughtful present from the garden that Moms can enjoy long after Mother's Day.
For quickest results, start cuttings from non-woody herbaceous plants, such as dahlias, chrysanthemums, and coleuses. Herbs, such as basil, also root quickly, as do succulents.
Snip near a mature leaf node and remove the lower leaves. For best results, dip snipped ends in rooting hormone.
Plant cuttings in lightweight potting mix that drains well, making sure to cover the lower leaf nodes with soil. If using flower pots, put only 2 or 3 cuttings in each.
Set pots in a tray of water. Then place them in plastic bags or under bottomless milk jugs to increase humidity. In about a week, roots will form.
Want more detailed instructions? Visit SEM Pro's hub, "Free Plants from Easy Cuttings."
Mossy Terracotta Pots
If you have moss in your yard, you can use it to transform clay pots into gorgeous antiqued planters. Although you can use new pots, cracked or chipped cast-offs work just as well--maybe even better--than new planters.
To get started, collect some moss. You'll need about a pint's worth. Remove as much soil from it as you can, and then spread it on newspaper to dry. This will take 2 to 3 days.
Crumble the dried moss, measuring out approximately 1 1/2 cups. Place it in a clean bucket, along with the following:
- 1 C. flour
- 2 C. buttermilk or plain yogurt
- 2 pkg. active dry yeast
- 2 Tbs. corn syrup
Stir until well blended, and then set the bucket in a sunny spot outside. It will really stink!
After 3 days, paint your pots with it using a rag, sponge, or disposable brush. Cover them with plastic wrap or place them in clear plastic bags. Set in partial sun.
Mold will develop, probably within 8 to 10 days. At that point, you can remove the plastic and use the pots as planters. Even if you don't use them right away, be sure to keep them moist. As time passes, they'll become quite green and "hairy."
Short-Term Projects (1 Week or Less)
The following three gifts can be ready to give in a week or less. Kids will love mixing goo and snipping herbs. Some jobs, however, like handling hot liquids and glue, are best left to adults.
Homemade herbal vinegars can be as colorful and as visually interesting as the herbs and edible flowers in your garden. Although the bottling process takes less than an hour, prep time included, the vinegar must steep for at least a week before use.
If you want to give herbal vinegar but are short on time, simply mark the date it will be ready for use on the bottle or on an attached card.
For the project, you'll need
- glass bottles with corks or lids
- white wine vinegar or white rice vinegar
- a canning funnel
- snips of herbs from your garden
- edible flowers from your garden (optional)
Before beginning, sterilize the bottles you'll be using just as you would for canning: submerge them in boiling water for ten minutes or sterilize them in your dishwasher. Allow them to dry.
If your children are old enough for the task, send them into the garden to collect snips of herbs and/or edible flowers. Rinse cuttings well in cold running water and place them on towels to drain.
When they have dried and the bottles are cool enough to handle, slightly bruise the herbs to release their oils. Fill each bottle by half, shaking them so that the cuttings are well distributed. This is another good job for kids. The next step, however, is for adults only.
Bring the vinegar to a boil. Using a funnel, pour the hot vinegar into the bottles, leaving about a 1/2 inch at the top. Allow the bottles to cool, and then seal.
Herbal vinegar will last up to two months in the refrigerator.
Because you must eventually strain out the herbs, herb-infused oils are not as naturally decorative as herbal vinegars, but they certainly are aromatic and delicious. Use any of the herbs from your garden. Flavorful choices include basil, chives, dill, mint, rosemary, tarragon, and thyme.
To give your bottles extra eye appeal, consider adding decorative and/or handmade labels. You could also tie them with raffia or ribbon, or select glass bottles with attractive stamping or elegant lines.
All you really need in order to make herb-infused oil, however, are four items:
- sterilized bottles with corks or lids
- light oil, such as olive or safflower
- a canning funnel
- two to three sprigs of fresh herb per bottle
Sterilize the bottles using the method described for herbal vinegars. Meanwhile, gather and wash the herbs. Also, warm the oil on the stove top, but don't bring it to a boil.
Bruise the sprigs to release their oils and then place 2 or 3 in each bottle. Using the funnel, pour in the warm oil. Let the bottles cool to room temperature before sealing.
Place the bottles in a dark, cool closet or cabinet for a week. Strain out the fresh herbs and reseal.
Herb-infused oils will keep for approximately 2 months.
Store-bought Meets Homemade
Cheater's Moss Pot
With this moss pot "recipe" you'll get almost instant results--an aged pot that looks better over time. All you'll need is
- 1 clay pot
- glue gun
- purchased moss
- 2 C. buttermilk or plain yogurt
- 1-1 1/2 C. dried moss from your yard
- sponge brush
- 1 shade tolerant plant
First, dry and crumble moss from your yard as described above. Meanwhile, hot glue pieces of purchased moss to the pot. Be sure to leave some areas exposed.
Mix the crumbled moss from your yard with 2 cups of yogurt or buttermilk, and apply it to the exposed areas. You could even paint on a simple design, like a heart.
Wrap the pot in plastic and set it in a shady spot. Alternatively, place it in a cool place in the garden and mist regularly. Before giving, plant it with a pretty shade-tolerant plant, such as a begonia, impatiens, or caladium. As the plant is watered and cared for, the moss will continue to grow.
A Last-Minute Beauty
Don't have time for a project? No worries. Gather herbs and flowers from the garden with your kids. A fresh bouquet or tussy mussy is a beautiful, quick, and easy way to show Mom she's loved--and to grow it forward.