All of these things are fairly sturdy if picked before they are too brittle. There is an ideal time to pick each variety for the best forms and lasting qualities, which will have to be determined by observation and experimenting.
Bright paint, either by spraying or dipping, will transform the collection into most engaging little baubles. Centers or tips may be accented with dabs of contrasting colors.
Many kinds of colored berries may be used to adorn wreaths. Winterberry and barberry usually hold their colored fruits until Christmas at least. Tiny httle red crabapples, picked in late fall from flowering crabapple trees, will keep under refrigeration until Christmas. The naturally glowing Chinese lanterns and silvery pennies from the honesty plant can also be decorative adjuncts to wreath-making.
Birthdays can always be remembered with some sort of garden by-product. Careful planning ahead is necessary, of course.
Winter birthday presents might be little dish gardens or terrariums. (See Chapter 21.) Or, they might be bowls of blooming bulbs in the easy-to-force class, such as lily-of-the-valley, or Chinese narcissus. A hyacinth in one of the special hyacinth vases would be particularly gala.
Spring gift occasions could be met by spring-blooming bulbs, like crocus or miniature daffodils. If these are planted in pots the previous fall, and kept in the ground outside, they can be lifted without disturbance when they are in bloom and wanted for presentation.
Summer gifts might be either specially arranged bouquets or corsages.
In the autumn colchicum bulbs will serve as surprise gifts
to people who do not know their miraculous propensity for blooming without being planted. Bouquets of everlastings would make very thoughtful gifts for people without gardens.
For birthdays occurring any time during the year a youngster could have ready some of the garden-craft objects created in pursuance of a garden hobby. Chapter 20 may give him ideas.
Warning: Don't try to cover too much territory with these celebration projects. The possibilities are many, but the child's selection should be pinned down to just a few, or possibly just one.