New Orleans Botanical Garden
For both the charitable spirit of the season as well as year-end tax deductions, people's thoughts turn to donating to worthy organizations at this time of year. After first giving to National Gardening Association, especially for their work with youth gardening, another possibility is the New Orleans Botanical Garden. Hurricane Katrina uprooted many of the garden's trees, and rare specimens in the glasshouses were killed. The garden reopened in March of 2006, but much of the task of restoration continues. The garden is appealing for volunteers and equipment and plant donations as well as monetary donations. For more information on how to help, click on "Recovery Fund brochure."
Clever Gardening Technique
A query from a friend sent me on a search for how to make those solid seed ornaments offered in catalogs and stores. I found out that gelatin is the key to holding the seeds together in a shape. The commercially available ones somehow withstand rain and snow, while the homemade versions must be hung in a protected spot. Still, it's a great family project that also benefits wildlife.
To make three 4-inch wreaths, empty one 1/4-ounce package of unflavored gelatin into 2 tablespoons of cold water in a large bowl. Let sit for 1 minute, then add 6 tablespoons of boiling water. Stir for several minutes until the gelatin is dissolved. Stir in 2 cups of wild birdseed mix and combine thoroughly. Let sit for a few minutes, then stir again. Repeat this two to three more times, allowing the seed to absorb the liquid. Spoon into three 4-inch mini-bundt pans. Place in the refrigerator for 4 hours. Invert the pans to remove the wreaths and air-dry overnight. Tie raffia through the wreath for hanging.