In the Garden:
Southern California Coastal & Inland Valleys
November, 2005
Regional Report

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Clusters of rose hips add color to holiday decorations.

Garden Crafts Galore

Your garden is calling you, and not just to get the winter planting started. It has many treasures to inspire you to make gifts and decorations for the upcoming holidays. Take a closer look as you trim bloomed-out and fruited-out plants. Harvest the bits and pieces --colorful leaves, bunches of dried berries and tiny fruits (especially rose hips!), and armloads of twisted vines and branches. Here are some ideas to get you started.

Candles
Decorate candles with flowers and foliage that you've grown and pressed yourself. Place small flowers, leaves, and vines between paper towels, and weigh them down with a heavy book overnight. Pieces should be limp but not moist or crispy. Use a glue stick to tack them into place on candles. Mix and match colors, or use white candles to highlight the colors of the flowers and leaves. In an empty coffee can tall enough to hold the candle, melt six cakes of paraffin by setting them in a pan of boiling water. Dip the candle, with its tacked-on flowers and leaves, into the liquid paraffin, and hold it or set it upright until it's cool. Dip again if a thicker coating is desired.

Wreaths and Trees
Wreaths and garlands join together all your garden gleanings with wire for sturdy hangings draped along banisters, door frames, windows, and tables to highlight other decorations. Add sparkle with strings of popcorn or tinsel.

Create theme trees with small Norfolk pine trees, small bushes, or artificial holiday trees -- one for each room or person (or pet!) in your home. This is a great way to sort your existing ornaments, and it gives you an excuse to purchase or make more since you don't have to put them all on the same tree!

Vinegars
Flavored vinegars provide an easy way to use garden-fresh herb trimmings and fruit. Raspberries, oranges, mint, rosemary, basil, ginger -- they all make great additions to vinegar for special salad dressings.

Feeling overwhelmed with the prospect of all that work? Here are three super-simple ways to enjoy your garden's bounty.

Quick Decorations
Make a fragrant pomander ball by pushing whole cloves into an orange till you can barely see the orange; then tie it with a ribbon and hang it in the kitchen or another warm area.

Gather branches of rosemary, preferably with its tiny blue blossoms, tie them together with a ribbon, and accent with a couple of small trinkets for a door or window hanging or a gift to a cook.

In a big serving bowl or platter, gather together all the garden's treasures. Accent with fresh leaves from evergreens like arborvitae, citrus, juniper, magnolia, pine, pittosporum, or spruce. Stud with bows and add fresh fruit like persimmons, oranges, lemons, or apples for a bright centerpiece.


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