Giving From The Garden A Little Differently

By Nikki Tilley | November 30, 2021
Image by maroke
by Nikki Tilley
November 30, 2021

I’m all about giving, though in many ways I do it differently. As far as my giving from the garden goes, I’ve offered my time to others. I’ve shared tips and gardening advice to a number of people over the years. I’ve donated to charitable causes and gifted plants. But lately, I’ve been busy “gifting” other things.

Crafting Decorative Wreaths for Walls and Doors

Since I semi-retired from my days as senior editor here at Gardening Know How, I’ve been filling my now free time with more gardening projects and other creative stuff. In addition to pressing leaves and flowers for artsy décor, I’ve discovered another hobby – making decorative wreaths for walls, doors, or where have you (protected from the elements, of course.). Although the plants used for these are artificial, some have included a few dried elements from my garden. Most all of them, however, are inspired by the garden in some form or fashion.

I’m not sure how this newfound hobby of mine got started, other than the fact that I wanted to create something for others that would not only brighten their day but also be something meaningful to me in some way, hence the use of plants. It may be in the form of flowers or succulents or even veggies and herbs. Once I’ve finished a wreath, I randomly gift it to someone. This could be a friend, neighbor, family member or even a complete stranger. I realize that decorative wreaths like this may not seem like much, but I’ve found that when you surprise others with something uplifting and unexpected, it can mean a lot. Here’s a couple examples:

My mom had mentioned that my aunt loved sunflowers, a fact I never knew. So I decided to make a wreath for her with sunflowers and sent it to her, along with a heartfelt note letting her know how special she was. I include these notes with all my wreaths. It just so happened that on the day my aunt received her wreath, she’d been having some personal issues and wasn’t feeling good about herself. And then she opened this package, of which she had no inkling what it could be. She messaged me to say thanks and let me know that this small act of kindness made her entire day. I had given her a reason to smile again. 

My neighbor had been going through some things herself, including the recent loss of a grandchild. The whole Covid ordeal and being couped up wasn’t helpful either. When she left for her morning walk, I carefully snuck over and propped a boxed-up cross wreath on her porch. Then I worked out in the garden as I waited for her return. When she came home, I saw the surprised look as she took the package inside. Moments later, I was greeted with a huge hug (masks on) and tears of joy.

THIS is why I do it. It’s my way of trying to make this world a better place. Thus far (since spring), I’ve made and gifted about thirty or so wreaths and I still have many others waiting to go out.

DIY Wreath Ideas

When it comes to my wreath creations, I look to the garden for inspiration, as well as my quirky mind. If I happen to know the recipient, I may use a specific color or flower that’s a favorite of theirs. For Mother’s Day, I even included wooden flowers with pics of the recipient’s children and grandchildren. Other DIY wreath ideas have included specific themes like summer, autumn, garden harvest, holidays, etc.

Some of the decorative wreaths I’ve created are crafted from grapevine wreath forms. They may be a specific shape, like a cross or pumpkin. Others are made from Styrofoam forms or wire. It’s all dependent on the design I’ve dreamed up in my mind. I’ve even upcycled items in a few of them – most recently using old shovel heads from the garden. Another one was designed for the kitchen using plastic utensils, a splatter screen for cooking and an oven mitt.

Giving from the garden doesn’t have to be literal. With wreath making, for instance, it’s not always feasible to include live plants for long term use. But there can still be a gardening concept. I fully believe in giving back – somehow. While it may be a little different than most, “making the world a better place – one wreath at a time” is my small way of creating happiness to those who need it.

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