(Editor's Note: This article was originally published on December 15, 2009. Your comments are welcome, but please be aware that authors of previously published articles may not be able to respond to your questions.)
I am the world’s greatest collector of useless objects. When I see something that might be useful someday, I must have it. Until that someday, of course, it will remain useless. Take containers, for example.
I never have enough containers. Now I am not talking about containers for food or for storage, because I never know what it might eventually contain, but I do know I will find a use for it. Recently at a gathering I attended, I noticed a lovely green bottle sitting on the bar. I have no idea what it contained, I just knew I had to have it. I am not a drinker of alcoholic beverages, but during the entire gathering I was silently hoping that bottle would be empty by the time I left for home. It was, and with not a bit of embarrassment, I told the hostess I just had to relieve her of that empty bottle.
It came home with me, and became part of a gift for one of my gardening friends. I know she’ll love it as much as I do.
Gifts from our gardens can come in many forms. The one I am going to tell you about is so simple I am almost embarrassed to write about it. It has been well received when I have given it, and since it costs nothing to create, it is one of my favorite gifts to give. Let me tell you about my Charlie Brown Seed Tree.
If you are a Charlie Brown fan, you’ll know about his tree. It was by far the most pitiful tree in the history of Christmas trees, but to me it was lovely, and I reckon it was to Charlie, too, since he is the one who selected it as his own.
My tree branches are bare now, and some are strewn about my yard, so it is easy to find branches to use for this project. The only thing you really need is one that is gnarly and branchy. The other things you will need are your favorite seeds you want to share, a sheet or two of paper, an old gardening catalog, scissors, a kid’s glue stick, and some curly ribbon. It might help if you have a Christmas bow as well, since this gift won’t be wrapped.
Most of us have made small envelopes in which we save seeds from one season to the next, and that’s what you will do with the sheets of paper. If you have small purchased envelopes, use them. I won’t bother to give you directions to make an envelope, most of you can make your own by just looking at one, so let’s assume you have as many envelopes as you have kinds of seeds.
Look in the old seed catalogs for colorful pictures of the seeds you plan to give as gifts, cut out those pictures in a size that will fit on the front of the envelope, then glue it on with the glue stick. Beneath the picture, I write the botanical name of the plant as well as its common name, and on the back of the envelope I write simple directions: Sun, Ht. 24”, Bloomtime: spring. That tells the receiver of the seeds all that is necessary for that particular plant, assuming he/she is already a gardener. If your purpose is to encourage her to become a gardener, then you might need to include more specific directions.
At this point, it might be wise to place your seeds in a tiny plastic Ziploc baggie or something similar, before placing into the decorated envelope. That will insure that the seeds won’t spill from your homemade envelope and won’t scatter as it is being opened. I like to take extra precautions with my seeds.
Before you place your small seed packet into the slightly larger envelope, cut a tiny slice in the upper diagonally folded corner of the envelope, just large enough to slide a piece of curling ribbon through. If you haven’t figured it out already, you are going to use your envelopes of seeds to decorate your Charlie Brown Seed Tree.
Now let’s go back to the container. I have several, a small metal watering can and a metal pitcher that I found in yard sales, the green bottle I found at my recent gathering, the clear bottle you see in the thumbnail photo and a larger jug type container that were just hanging around here at my house. If the opening of the container is small, you only need to stick the end of your bare branch into it. If it is large, you might need a piece of Styrofoam placed in the container to hold the branch upright. Otherwise, it will tilt and even Charlie Brown would be embarrassed to claim it.
Once your branch is secure in the container, you will begin to decorate it with your little envelopes filled with seeds. Place them on the bare branch at random, but to make sure they don’t all slide toward the center, you might want to either tighten the curled ribbon that holds them, or you could secure them to the branch with invisible tape. Either way, Charlie Brown would be proud.
The finishing touch will be the bow that adorns the container. There’s nothing more fun than a beautiful bow on a Charlie Brown tree.
And there you have it, a fun gift that costs nothing to make, and will give long lasting pleasure to the recipient. I’ve found this to be a good gift to give to gardening friends in nursing homes, too. Along with it I usually add a few small pots, a bag of potting soil, and a couple of small hand tools. I also include fewer seeds in their packets because they might not have very much room for planters and pots.
If your container has a large opening, add a pair of gardening gloves. They’ll help keep the tree upright, and will also be much appreciated by the gardener. I have a little booklet that lists botanical names of common plants, and it can be rolled and placed in the wide mouthed container as well. Such a booklet is easy enough to make if you have a computer and a printer, and is appreciated by the novice gardener.
Have fun with your Charlie Brown Seed Tree. I promise it will make both you and your friends smile.