If you're looking for an extra special Christmas gift to give, look no further than your garden for inspiration.
Presents that you create yourself will have a homespun charm that shop-bought gifts will lack, as well as saving you money.
More Christmas content:
- How to make an honesty tealight holder
- Grow your own Christmas dinner
- Five of the best Christmas wreaths
Kickstart a cactus
Many cacti form offsets at the base, which can each become a new plant.
Make it: Using a sharp, clean knife wiped with alcohol, slice the plantlets from the parent plant at a 45º angle and set to one side for a few days until the cut callouses over. Replant in gritty compost. Then wait a few days before you water. Provide instructions to 'water sparingly' and 'keep in a warm, light place'. You can also take cuttings from other houseplants including many succulents.
Steep herbs in vinegar
Flavour vinegar with herbs to drizzle over winter salads.
Make it: Half fill a clean glass container with fresh herbs such as rosemary, thyme, tarragon or oregano, and fill with warmed wine vinegar. Leave for two weeks to infuse, then sieve the mixture through a piece of muslin cloth. Bottle the clean liquid and add some fresh herbs, making sure they're fully submerged. Label festively.
Grow an amaryllis
Amaryllis bulbs take around seven weeks to flower, so plant them in November and by Christmas they'll rival the most flamboyant Christmas tree.
Make it: Pot up in compost, with two-thirds of the bulb above the surface. Or, submerge the roots in a glass vase filled with decorative pebbles and keep topped up with water just below the base of the bulb. Position in a warm, light place, turning regularly to get even growth. Add a small stake if necessary.
Preserve your windfalls
Tomatoes, pumpkins and windfall apples all make tasty base ingredients.
Make it: Select your cutest jam jars and search for chutney recipes that use festive flavours like cinnamon, dates and ginger. Chutney takes a couple of weeks to mature and should keep for at least a couple of weeks.
Pot up a Christmas rose
Flowering in winter, a Christmas rose (Helleborus niger) will give pleasure for years to come.
Make it: Buy one in flower already from the garden centre or, if you have them in your garden, look for self-sown seedlings and ease one carefully up from the ground. Pot up, mulch with pebbles, and wrap with cellophane and glitzy ribbon. Instruct the lucky recipient to grow it on the outside, transplanting it after flowering.
Save up seeds
Share your favourite plants by saving their seed and distributing to gardening pals. Make your own festive envelopes for the seeds or use the small ones that come with some gift labels.
Make it: Harvest on a dry day, discarding any chaff. Label with names, dates and cultivation tips. Save little packs of silica gel from purchases, and pop them in with the seeds to keep them dry. Add a sketch or photo of the plant to inspire your friends to sow.