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Northwest Gardening: Dressed up Violets Make Great Gifts

Brought to you by Lowe's Creative Ideas

African violets are beautiful when flowering. Discover how to dress up this jewel of an indoor plant to make a lovely gift.

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You can dress up a single violet to give as a gift. African violets are the perfect hostess thank-you or birthday gifts. Just slip a violet and corks into a recycled basket (gotta keep drinking wine, as the corks come in so handy), then add a few stems of fresh or dried flowers for more color. Use a scrap of ribbon to tie on the front of a recycled greeting card. All it takes is a hole punch to turn cut-up greeting cards into lovely gift tags. Here's how:

First, select a soup tureen, crystal bowl or basket large enough to be used as a centerpiece.

Then, fill with wine corks so that the still-potted violets will be at the proper heights. The corks also keep the roots from sitting in drainage water.

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Once the violets are sitting on the corks, you can begin adding cut greens to fill in the space. I used deep-purple heuchera leaves and the variegated foliage from leucothoe shrub. The secret is to poke the ends of the greens into the moist soil of the potted violets, and they'll stay fresh for a week or more.

Add cut stems of sedum 'Autumn Joy', yarrow or any other dried flower, again poking the stems into the potting soil with the violets.

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Finally, begin to bejewel your violets. Why should your bling stay hidden away? I used pearls, pins and rhinestones to drape this formal dish garden, but you can get creative with seasonal accents as well.

What plants do you give as gifts?