Handmade Gifts from a Country Garden

Overview

Inspiring and practical, this delightful book shows how to create original gifts from the bounty of a home garden.

The joys of a garden are increased many times over, Laura Martin believes, when its natural treasures are shared with family and friends. From the bounty of a garden anyone may create thoughtful, original gifts and beautiful home decorations using the clear, step-by-step instructions provided in this delightful book. Even city dwellers lacking gardens can find ...

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Overview

Inspiring and practical, this delightful book shows how to create original gifts from the bounty of a home garden.

The joys of a garden are increased many times over, Laura Martin believes, when its natural treasures are shared with family and friends. From the bounty of a garden anyone may create thoughtful, original gifts and beautiful home decorations using the clear, step-by-step instructions provided in this delightful book. Even city dwellers lacking gardens can find pleasure in making these economical, unique gifts and home decorations, for the plant materials are readily available from florists or nurseries.

Arranged seasonally, the 60 projects presented here are richly illustrated in some 150 color photographs and are so clearly described that even a novice, or a child assisted by an adult, can easily create lovely gifts. The more experienced craftsperson will also benefit from the author's inspiring advice and practical shortcuts. Each project is illustrated and includes simple instructions giving materials, time needed, cost, level of difficulty, and shelf life.

Throughout the year the garden's bounty yields materials for a variety of original projects. In spring there is violet jelly to make, or a bride's book of flowers, or a dollhouse garden. Summer is the time for creating bath bags and oils and baby baskets. Fall projects include peach bread, vegetable strings, and scented potholders, and for winter there are corn-shuck dolls, wreaths, and miniature terrariums. Another chapter provides expert guidance on how to plant a "useful" crafts garden with suggestions for the best flowers, herbs, vegetables, shrubs, and trees to cultivate. And there is informationabout techniques to master, among them how to dry and condition cut flowers and herbs, as well as tools to have on hand, and sources of crafts supplies.

With this indispensable book, the gardener can always surprise someone with a personal, beautiful gift for any occasion, or celebrate a holiday with an inspired home decoration.

Other Details: 150 full-color illustrations 160 pages 9 x 9" Published 1997

Handmade Gifts from a Country Garden is a veritable treasure chest of ideas. Each of the sixty gifts is described in detail, and how-to instructions are clear and simple enough to enable even a novice to produce beautiful and exciting gifts. The best kinds of flowers, herbs, and vegetables to grow in your garden for different projects are suggested. There is also information about ways to harvest the produce for the greatest yield from a garden's bounty.

Truth Time, or You, Too, Can Burn Violets

Before I became an author, I always thought that people who wrote books were magicians or wizards, but then I began to wonder. Did their souffles always turn out perfectly? Didn't they ever have droopy flowers? Didn't they ever hiccup or sneeze? Were these people real?

I can't answer for anyone else who writes books, but I can tell you that my experiences in writing this book were very real and that I cried, laughed, stewed, stormed, and, yes, even cursed over many of the crafts in this book.

Take, for example, the day that I gathered up a half-dozen neighborhood kids to pick violets. It really was fun, but it takes a lot of time to pick enough violets to make jelly and a lot of effort to keep six children thinking after a couple of hours that picking violets is still fun. Nevertheless, I came home with enough violet blossoms to make a nice batch of jelly.

I washed the blossoms and immediately put them in a large pan and covered them with water. I wanted them to be as fresh and flavorful as possible. I put the pan on the stove, turned the heat on medium, and ran upstairs to wash up. And then the phone rang. It wasn't until much later that I remembered the violets. They were ruined. All that was left was a black mass in the middle of what was once my favorite pan. I wondered whether I was the only woman in the world who had burned violets that day.

Then there was the time I created a perfect little miniature herb garden. I had it all planted like a tiny English herb garden with pebble walks intersecting four beds planted with mint, thyme, catnip, and oregano. I was pleased and proud as I put it in the den on a table in the front bay window. An hour later I walked back into the den to find pebbles and potting soil and bits of plants strewn all over the floor and my daughter's cat rolling in ecstasy in the catnip. What did I expect? After all, she's a cat.

There was the day that I hosted a fancy spring luncheon and made party favors out of small wicker wheelbarrows planted with real herbs. I carefully watered the herbs to keep them fresh and put them on the table in front of each place setting. They looked great. Twenty minutes later when I filled the water glasses, I found large brown puddles under each herb basket where the water had dripped onto my best linen tablecloth.

Or the day I was getting ready to string vegetables and wanted to dry slivers of corn on the cob before I strung them. It was a sunny day, and I suddenly had the great idea of putting the pieces of corn out in the sun to dry more quickly. I placed them on a tray, found the sunniest spot in the garden, and left them there for several hours. When I returned, the only things remaining were a few kernels and the happy chatter of well-fed squirrels in a nearby tree.

My children, too, had a way of keeping me humble about my crafts. The conversations usually went something like this:

"What's this one supposed to be?"

"Well, it's not really supposed to be anything. Just pretty."

"Oh. What happened to it?"

Yes, I photographed only the best of the crafts for this book. I did not photograph the oil that got moldy because I left the herbs in too long, or the rose perfume that smelled like vinegar because I used the wrong fixative, or the peonies that I tried drying in my slightly damp basement.

I am not a magician or a wizard. I am someone, just like you, who loves to work with her hands, loves to create, and loves to give away what I make.

From the bounty of a home garden, anyone can make thoughtful gifts and inspired decorations following the clear, simple instructions in this delightful book. Arranged seasonally, the 60 projects--from violet jelly to cornshuck dolls--are richly illustrated with 150 full-color photos.

Read More Show Less

Editorial Reviews

Publishers Weekly - Publisher's Weekly
``To give of your garden is to give of yourself.'' Martin (Laura C. Martin's Southern Garden), an Atlanta gardener, culls her garden for ingredients and ideas to create holiday toys, trifles and crafts. Her book is appealing, neither too lavish nor too homespun, and offers a reasonable range to readers who would like to dip into their backyards for the raw materials of such home projects as pressed flowers and evergreen wreaths. (Also included are recipes for pickled peaches, pesto sauce and apple pie.) After a general overview, the author organizes the book and the gifts by season (and so, violet-jelly shortbread is found listed under spring, since that is when violets bloom). Her aesthetic varies from formal (rosebud napkin rings) to truly rustic (corn-shuck dolls). Certain items may seem overly prim. But directions are clear and careful. In closing, Martin tells us how to plan a garden that will readily yield the makings of crafts. A source list for materials is included, as well as a bibliography. Author tour; Better Homes & Gardens Book Club main selection; BOMC selection; Crafters Choice Book Club selection; Garden Book Club selection. (Oct.)
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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9781558596108
  • Publisher: Abbeville Press, Incorporated
  • Publication date: 10/1/1994
  • Edition description: 1st ed
  • Pages: 160
  • Product dimensions: 9.35 (w) x 9.32 (h) x 0.87 (d)

Read an Excerpt

Introduction

Every time I drive up to my house I look by the front door to see if The Basket is there. The Basket is just an ordinary basket, one I bought at a garage sale years ago. But, of course, it's not the basket itself that brings me tumbling out of the car and bounding up the steps, it's the treasures nestled inside that cause my unbridled enthusiasm.

It became The Basket about ten years ago. My mother was suffering from a bad cold, so I filled my small wicker basket with flowers from my garden and a loaf of homemade bread and took it to her. She was appreciative, and I promptly forgot about the basket until a few weeks later when it reappeared on my doorstep filled with packages of favorite seeds and a new pair of gardening gloves.

Since then The Basket has flown back and forth frequently. Although we sometimes include little baked goods or an occasional piece of chocolate, we most often use it as a vehicle to trade gardening treasures.

During the warm spring months when we are both at a fever pitch of excitement about our gardens, The Basket may change hands several times in one week, depending on supply and request.

Once I put in a few rooted cuttings from my wild clematis vine along with four or five marigold seedlings. Mom returned it to me with several small but healthy tomato plants and—treasure of treasures—a small bag of well-rotted compost.

As the seasons progress, the contents of The Basket change accordingly. Seedlings are replaced by harvest and The Basket gets heavier. During fall, treasures in The Basket change again. A small package of seeds gathered from my meadow accompanies a glorious bouquet of fall-blooming wildflowers.

What weshare is more than mere plants and seeds. When I found an exquisite peony blossom in The Basket, I received not only a lovely cut flower but also all the memories that went along with it. It brought to mind images of spring days in my childhood when the peonies were in full bloom and we would cup them in our hands and inhale their sweet perfume. When Mom gets a package of seeds from my meadow, she is receiving not only the seeds but also a tiny dividend for the sacrifices she made when she took care of my children so I could plant a meadow.

To share a garden is to share a lifetime, past, present, and future. Favorite flowers invoke memories of yesterday, give us pleasure today, and give us reason to believe in tomorrow.

Plants that grew and bloomed in my grandma's garden now grow and bloom in my own garden. I hope cuttings from these same plants will take root in the gardens of my children.

If you are blessed with a garden you are also blessed with the opportunity to share it. A giving garden produces a bountiful harvest that can—with a little knowledge and inspiration—be transformed into a multitude of different gifts to be given away. Pleasure in the garden will increase many times over if you share it. Whom you share it with is not as important as the sharing itself. Unless they are given away, garden treasures tend to lose their magic.

The advantages of giving from your garden are many. To give of your garden is to give of yourself—your time, your love, and the sweat of your brow. To give of your garden is to capture the seasons—a clear spring day in a jar of violet jelly, the sweet summer sun in a sachet of dried rose petals, the autumn harvest, or a miniature winter landscape in a glass Christmas ornament.

Gifts from the garden can be as simple as collected seeds of favorite flowers or as complicated and time-consuming as an old-fashioned apple-head doll. These gifts are undeniably unusual and personal. They are, for the most part, inexpensive in terms of money, though not always in terms of time. Many, such as a collection of homemade herbal teas, are quite useful. Others, such as a pot of larkspur, are simply beautiful. Still others, such as a surprise May Day basket found on the doorstep, come so unexpectedly that the recipients may remember them forever.

Handmade Gifts from a Country Garden is a veritable treasure chest of ideas. Each of the sixty gifts is described in detail, and how-to instructions are clear and simple enough to enable even a novice to produce beautiful and exciting gifts. The best kinds of flowers, herbs, and vegetables to grow in your garden for different projects are suggested. There is also information about ways to harvest the produce for the greatest yield from a garden's bounty.

Truth Time, or You, Too, Can Burn Violets

Before I became an author, I always thought that people who wrote books were magicians or wizards, but then I began to wonder. Did their souffles always turn out perfectly? Didn't they ever have droopy flowers? Didn't they ever hiccup or sneeze? Were these people real?

I can't answer for anyone else who writes books, but I can tell you that my experiences in writing this book were very real and that I cried, laughed, stewed, stormed, and, yes, even cursed over many of the crafts in this book.

Take, for example, the day that I gathered up a half-dozen neighborhood kids to pick violets. It really was fun, but it takes a lot of time to pick enough violets to make jelly and a lot of effort to keep six children thinking after a couple of hours that picking violets is still fun. Nevertheless, I came home with enough violet blossoms to make a nice batch of jelly.

I washed the blossoms and immediately put them in a large pan and covered them with water. I wanted them to be as fresh and flavorful as possible. I put the pan on the stove, turned the heat on medium, and ran upstairs to wash up. And then the phone rang. It wasn't until much later that I remembered the violets. They were ruined. All that was left was a black mass in the middle of what was once my favorite pan. I wondered whether I was the only woman in the world who had burned violets that day.

Then there was the time I created a perfect little miniature herb garden. I had it all planted like a tiny English herb garden with pebble walks intersecting four beds planted with mint, thyme, catnip, and oregano. I was pleased and proud as I put it in the den on a table in the front bay window. An hour later I walked back into the den to find pebbles and potting soil and bits of plants strewn all over the floor and my daughter's cat rolling in ecstasy in the catnip. What did I expect? After all, she's a cat.

There was the day that I hosted a fancy spring luncheon and made party favors out of small wicker wheelbarrows planted with real herbs. I carefully watered the herbs to keep them fresh and put them on the table in front of each place setting. They looked great. Twenty minutes later when I filled the water glasses, I found large brown puddles under each herb basket where the water had dripped onto my best linen tablecloth.

Or the day I was getting ready to string vegetables and wanted to dry slivers of corn on the cob before I strung them. It was a sunny day, and I suddenly had the great idea of putting the pieces of corn out in the sun to dry more quickly. I placed them on a tray, found the sunniest spot in the garden, and left them there for several hours. When I returned, the only things remaining were a few kernels and the happy chatter of well-fed squirrels in a nearby tree.

My children, too, had a way of keeping me humble about my crafts. The conversations usually went something like this:

"What's this one supposed to be?"

"Well, it's not really supposed to be anything. Just pretty."

"Oh. What happened to it?"

Yes, I photographed only the best of the crafts for this book. I did not photograph the oil that got moldy because I left the herbs in too long, or the rose perfume that smelled like vinegar because I used the wrong fixative, or the peonies that I tried drying in my slightly damp basement.

I am not a magician or a wizard. I am someone, just like you, who loves to work with her hands, loves to create, and loves to give away what I make.

Read More Show Less

Table of Contents

Introduction

Getting Started

Giving Gifts

How to Use This Book

Essential Equipment

Helpful Materials

Gifts for All Seasons

Spring Surprises: Potpourri; Sachets; Moss-Covered Box; Topiary Bear; Violet Jelly; Violet-Jelly Shortbread; Pressed-Flower Picture; Floral Hat; Bride's Book of Flowers; Handmade Paper and Scented Ink; May Day Basket; Tussie-mussies; Rosebud Napkin Ring; Pressed-Flower Place Cards; Wheelbarrow Baskets of Herbs; Dollhouse Garden; Easter Egg Hunt Centerpiece

Summer Bounty: Bath Bags; Bath Oils; Herbal Vinegars; Dried Herbs; Rose Perfume; Rose Soap; Lavender Vinegar; Salsa; Pesto Sauce; Herbal Tea; Baby Basket; Flavored Cooking Oils; Woven Herb Basket; Bouquet Garni; Garden in a Box; Herb Box; Pot of Larkspur; Naturally Dyed Cloth

Fall Harvest: Apple-Head Dolls; Scented Pot Holders; Pickled Peaches; Peach Bread; Peach Jam; Vegetable Strings; Windowsill Herbs; Gourd Birdhouse; Gourd Spoons; Gourd Doll; Ten Tiny Trinkets; Deep-Dish Apple Pie; Seeds from the Garden; Dried-Flower Strings; Wheat and Roses

Winter Treasures: Corn-Shuck Dolls; Cranberry-Basil Jelly; Whole Wheat Basil Bread; Straw-Hat Ornament; Tussie-mussie Ornament; Flower Basket Ornament; Herb Wreath Bell Pull; Evergreen Wreath; Miniature Terrariums; Rose and Boxwood Topiary

Basic Techniques: Pressing Flowers and Herbs; Wiring Flowers; Conditioning Fresh Flowers; Drying Flowers and Herbs; Tying the Perfect Bow; Making Jelly

Creating a Crafts Garden: Ideas for a "Useful" Garden; Starting Out; Preparing the Site; Selecting Plants; Planting Suggestions; Flowers, Herbs; Vegetables; Shrubs and Trees

Appendixes: Lists of Crafts: Sources ofSupplies; Selected Bibliography; Index

Author Biography: Laura C. Martin, an award-winning garden writer, lives in Atlanta where she tends a bountiful garden that supplies her with materials for the gifts featured in this book. She has written seven books about natural subjects, including Southern Gardens: A Gracious History and Traveler's Guide.

David Schilling is well known for his photographs of gardens; his work has appeared in numerous publications and books including Southern Gardens.

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