Our herb gardens can bring fragrance and flavor to more than just our dinner table. We can get a great sense of satisfaction when we take what we have grown and turn it into beautiful ornaments to decorate our homes and to share with our friends. With a few inexpensive items and a little imagination, you can make both living and dried decorations to brighten your holidays with ingredients from your herb garden.
Dried Herb Wreaths
While your herbs may not be evergreen, they are usually abundant and can give you hundreds of possibilities for wreath making.
- Select a wreath base made of straw or Spanish moss. You can find these at garden centers, or you can make one by bending heavy gauge wire into your chosen shape – your imagination is the limit. Lash the straw or moss to your framework with florist’s wire.
- Pick a plant for the background– something that you have a lot of that goes well with the flowers and/or berries that you are going to use in your wreath. Cover your wreath with it, inserting it into the straw or moss stem by stem until it is well covered.
- Add the small accents – colorful flowers, holly berries, etc. – spacing them all around the wreath, connected by selections of neutral-colored flowers. You can also make a complete circumference with your bold colors and space the neutral tones at various intervals instead. You can also wire in several florist’s tubes to add fresh flowers to your wreath – which can be replaced as they fade.
Dried Herb Garlands
- Cut a long piece of heavy gauge wire (three feet long or longer) for the framework of your garland, bending each end into a hook.
- Assemble bunches of dried flowers (about three inches across). This should be a balanced arrangement of foliage and colorful accents that you will be putting into your garland. Bind the stems to the wire frame with fine florist’s wire.
- Keep adding bunches until you have covered the wire. The most important thing to remember is to place bunches very close together; otherwise, there will be gaps in your garland when the wire is bent.
- Keeping the composition simple – no more than three basic colors – should be your rule of thumb.
- When you have filled the wire or run out of flowers, you can bend your garland into any shape you choose to make a wreath. You can also hook several together to make a beautiful garland to grace a mantle, staircase, or whatever else you may choose.
This is a great project for Christmas, but you may also choose to make one in the spring to bring a portion of your garden into the house to hang on a wall or door. This can even be a circular herb garden for your kitchen or that of a friend.
- Soak several handfuls of unmilled sphagnum moss in water until it is wet all the way through (about fifteen minutes). Cut a strip of half-inch mesh chicken wire one foot wide and three feet long. Bend the long sides up to make a trough.
- Squeeze enough water out of the moss so that it won’t soak the table while you are working. Pack it tightly into the trough – a good dense mass of sphagnum moss will give your plants a firm base and will hold water well.
- Bend the trough sides together until they are slightly overlapped and look like a sausage. Fasten the sides together by bending the loose prongs (sticking out from where it was cut) to form little hooks that can catch into the hole on the opposite side of the seam.
- Fasten the ends of your “sausage” into a circle in the same way.
- Make seven small wells in the moss, evenly spaced, around the wreath, by poking a pencil or other implement through the wire. Plant a small herb into each well. Anchor each with a hairpin, if necessary. Choose plants from three-inch pots having six-inch or longer stems. Choose your plants boldly to discover their dynamic effects. Don’t be bound by tradition; make new traditions of your own.
Living Christmas Balls
Your growing globes can be hung on the tree or near a window, out of direct sunlight.
- Find glass ornament balls two and a half inches in diameter with a chimney that is at least half and inch in diameter. (You can save yourself a few steps here by buying clear ornament balls from a craft store, or you can recycle old glass balls by following the next steps.)
- Pull off the metal tops and set aside. Soak the balls overnight in a solution of half water and half bleach.
- Wearing rubber gloves, swirl each ball in the bleach solution, letting the bleach-water slosh the whole inside. Rinse with plain water; the color should wash off easily. If there are traces of color or the cloudy inside coating remaining, rub it off with a paper towel. To reach inside, use a long-handled cotton swab or a bit of paper towel on the end of a pencil to wipe it off.
- Mix crumbled charcoal (the kind used for fish tanks) into a dirt-free potting mix (example: half sphagnum moss, half perlite). It will take about one teaspoon of charcoal and ¼ cup potting mix for each two-and-a-half-inch ball. Place the ball in a cup to prevent it from rolling as you put in the soil mixture. Form a piece of paper into a funnel, insert it into the chimney of the ball, and pour in the charcoal/soil mixture. The ball should be 1/4 to 1/3 full.
- Push pieces of trailing moss through the chimney and position it with a pencil or needle-nosed pliers to make a loose carpet over the soil’s surface.
- Take a cutting of partridgeberry, holly, toyon, rosemary, or any small herb with roots. It should be 1 3/4 inches long – preferably with berries on it, as the red will make your ball more festive. Remove the bottom pair of leaves. Using tweezers, poke the cutting or plant through the chimney into the soil. Make sure that at least one of the nodes on your cutting is below the ground. Using a long-nosed squeeze bottle, mist the soil with water.
- Put the metal cap and hook back on the ball and tie a seasonal ribbon around the chimney. Hang your potted ball on the Christmas tree or near a window where it will get indirect sunlight. This ball will be a perfect rooting chamber for the cutting and moss that you have placed in it.
I hope that you make one or more of these to brighten your Christmas and/or that of a friend. Happy gardening and merry Christmas!
©2011 Off the Grid News