12 simple gifts from the garden

Maintaining and enjoying a garden is one of life's greatest pleasures. Just relaxing under a tree and being among the flowers and plants can be so enriching and soothing. Even the somewhat more strenuous tasks of weeding, digging and harvesting can surprisingly provide a satisfying balance to everyday life. Several studies have in fact shown that a garden has a positive effect on mental and physical health. 

But with the fruits of your garden you can also bring happiness to others. Here are some great little gift ideas for your friends.

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1. Scented fireplace lighters

Pine cones are the ideal thing to use as a fireplace lighter. They contain flammable resins and quickly start up a hot fire. You can adapt the pine cones somewhat to add to their fragrance and the way they burn. First, make sure the pines are completely dry. Now melt some white candles into a bowl and add a few drops of essential oil. To visually enhance your gift, you can also use colorful wax crayons to melt with it. Now with the help of some tongs, dip the cones in the wax and let them drain on baking paper and dry for about 90 minutes.

The fragrant cones are of course not suitable as a barbecue lighter, as the scent would just be off-putting. But when you've finished cooking your meat, you can throw a few on the smouldering coal. The essential oils will keep mosquitoes away in a pleasant way.


2. Candles with pressed flowers

A fun activity for children is to let them collect their favorite flowers and then press them: placed between two sheets of kitchen paper and weighed down heavily with a book, the flowers dry out completely in about two weeks. It also incidentally works well with leaves and grass. With flowers, just make sure the stems aren't too thick. Next, you'll need a candle, parchment paper and a hairdryer: Gradually place the dried plants or flowers on the candle, put parchment paper tightly over it and hold the hairdryer near it for a few seconds. This way, the wax sweats onto the flower and keeps it firmly stuck in place. 

Alternatively, you can hold a spoon over a flame and then press the flowers onto the candle with it. 


3. Gourmet rose syrup

This homemade syrup is perfect for garden parties or a summer evenings spent on the balcony. It can simply be drunk with cold water but also gives sparkling wine and cocktails a special kick.

You'll need:

  • 6 cups of rose petals
  • 20 fl oz water
  • 25 oz sugar
  • 1 lemon (unsprayed)

Boil the water and sugar together then let it cool down. Slice the washed lemon and put it in a mason jar together with the rose petals and sugar water. Let it sit for a week in a cool place. Then take a clean cotton cloth and filter the syrup through it. Pour the syrup into well-boiled, oven-dry and still warm bottles. Try and choose different kinds of scented roses and remember: the better the rose smells, the tastier the syrup will be afterwards. 


4. Fine vinegar

A fine herbal vinegar is what makes a delicious salad. You can make your own creations with whatever you find in your garden. The basic recipe is very simple. The important thing is that you take a good wine, sherry or apple cider vinegar as a basis. The acidity should be at least five percent. Use the ratio of 1:3, herbs to vinegar. Chili, garlic and raspberries are also suitable. Add all the ingredients together in a Mason jar and leave it for a month. When stored in a cool, dark place, the vinegar will last more than a year — provided it's not consumed before then!

By the way, lavender is a great natural pain killer if you've got a headache!


5. Rustic flowerpot 

Flowerpots are often standing around, taking up space in the garden shed. With a fresh coat of paint they could look like new again and also make a wonderful gift for friends — after all a pot lasts a lot longer than a bouquet of flowers. 

The design possibilities are countless when using acrylic colors because they have the added advantage of being waterproof and opaque. To fix the colors use a transparent spray paint. A touch of sisal twine can give it that rustic feel. 


6. Turtle made of pebbles

The garden really does offer plenty of scope for creative ideas. With a few pebbles from the roadside and some acrylic paint you can, for example, bring cute turtles to life. The surface of the stones should be clean, smooth and dry before painting them. As a rule by thumb, you should always shade from dark to light. The base coat of paint should also always be completely dry before you add more layers and as a special tip, try applying a few layers of clear varnish in the process, so that the eyes appear beautifully shiny at the end.


7. Lavender cookies

All you need for shortbread cookies is 9 oz flour, 4½ oz butter, 2 oz sugar and 1 egg. With a few lavender flowers you can raise the profile of your cookies just by giving them a small but exquisite bit of attention.

Like any short crust pastry, leave it in the fridge for half an hour before baking (10 min at 360°F).


8. Mice with catnip

What attracts cats to a garden is not always clear but one thing is certain: they love catnip! The small fabric mice not only make a delightful little toy, they can also be useful as bait if you need to take your cat to the vet for example.

You'll need:

  • firm fabric
  • black yarn (for the eyes)
  • thick cord (for the tail)
  • dried catnip
  • needle and thread

Cut heart-shaped patterns out of the fabric and fold it down the middle on the left. Sew the cord at the wide end for the tail. Then using tight stitches, sew the upper edges of the fabric halves together. But leave 1 inch unsewn. Now you can turn the fabric the right way round and fill it with catnip then sew up the remaining opening. Cut two ears out of the scraps and sew them on. The eyes can be embroidered with yarn.  


9. Folded cards with flowers and sand

For this idea you'll need:

  • blank folding card
  • double-sided adhesive tape
  • pressed flowers
  • craft sand

Stick a strip of double-side adhesive tape on the card and gently lay the pressed flowers onto it. Now scatter the sand over the card, gently pressing it down with the palm of your hand. Just shake off any excess sand. Instead of adhesive tape, you could also use glue, but applied thinly. Craft sand is also available in lots of different colors. 


10. Homemade soap

Soap with dried lavender, rosemary and rose petals not only looks classy but also smells delightful. It is really quite easy to make too. Depending on your preference, you can start off with glycerine, natural vegetable or odorless essential soaps. You grate it using a grater into a heat-resistant bowl and melt it in a hot water bath. You can now mould the liquid soap into different shapes, adding herbs, fragrance oils and possibly dyes. Then allow it to dry.


11. Mediterranean herbal salt

Herbal salts can be put together in all kinds of variations and combinations. For mediterranean meals, a mix of oregano, rosemary, thyme and sage is recommended. These herbs are left to dry in several bundles upside down and loosely hung in a light-protected place. The kitchen is unfortunately often too humid for this. Finely chop the dried herbs and mix in cup of sea salt with a 1:1 ratio. Before you use it, leave it for one day in a tightly closed mason jar. 

Since the salt preserves the herbs, it keeps for a long time. Of course, you can also use the herbs without drying them beforehand but then the herbal salt may get a bit lumpy.


12. Beer garden

Saving the best until last: with moss, herbs and small accessories, you can fashion a portable beer garden out of an old apple crate. It could make a nice little bring-along gift  for a barbecue invitation, for example.


You were undoubtedly already aware that your garden possessed many a hidden treasure. But with these suggestions you can now share that love and creatively pass on your treasures to those you hold closest to your heart.


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