The Planthunter’s Guide to Xmas Giving

Words by
Sally Wilson
Images by
Emma Perry
| December 11, 2015

Put your shopping lists aside. Cancel the stocking stuffers. Make an announcement to your friends, family and Secret Santas: ‘No presents, please!’ This year we have a different idea for Christmas giving and, quite typically, it’s all about plants.

Giving does count. Giving time, giving loose change, giving a gift wrapped up and decorated with green and gold curling ribbon… What all these simple acts represent at their core is an offering, one that reaches beyond ourselves and out towards a greater good.

There are many causes that can benefit from our attention through the year, and when the gift giving season hits. But because this is The Planthunter we want to focus on giving the gift of green things – trees, seeds and plants – perhaps in ways you won’t expect!

Greening Australia 

Greening Australia does large-scale work to revive and conserve Australia’s globally significant landscapes, from the Tasmanian midlands to the Pilbara in Western Australia. Why not make a donation to Greening Australia on behalf of your family this year, rather than spending on individual Christmas gifts? $50 could buy tools for a volunteer to start planting trees. $100 could buy 50 seedlings to restore native habitat and $250 can buy enough seed to plant an area the size of a soccer pitch with mixed native woodland! You can also donate directly to help build a seed centre in Sydney, where native seeds will be grown in quantities large enough to restore lost habitats across Australia. More details here.

The Tree Project 

The Tree Project is a not-for-profit group based in Victoria, which connects urban and rural communities to plant trees back on rural land. Tree Project volunteers grow native trees, shrubs and grasses, which are provided at-cost to regional landholders to repair degraded areas. It’s good, necessary work that they do!

The Tree Project offers a range of gifts via its website: you can give a gift card that will go towards the propagation and planting native species in areas that need revegetation, or even a one-year or lifetime Tree Project membership.

For more details, click here.

Trees For Life

I grew up in and around Trees for Life planter boxes full of seedlings. We’d drive to the local Trees For Life collection depot in South Australia just before the start of summer each year to collect our native seeds and growing kit, and spend the morning in the backyard establishing seedling boxes. There was the excitement of watching seedlings unfurl from the soil, charting their growth over the summer, and then passing the glossy boxes of sapling trees onto country landholders for planting at the end of autumn.

Trees For Life is a South Australia-based, volunteer organisation that works to reinstate stands of native vegetation across the state and strengthen existing vegetation. This Christmas why not make a donation (on behalf of your mum!), which will help Trees For Life with its activities.

Adopt A Fruit Tree

Perhaps you’d like to give someone a whole fruit tree, if you live near Bilpin, NSW? For an annual subscription of $150 you can adopt a peach tree or an apple tree and, come harvest time, take the drive to Bilpin (1.5 hours from central Sydney) to pick about 60 kilograms of fruit from your own tree!

Learn about the Tadrosse family’s Adopt a Fruit Tree project here.

Australian Koala Foundation

The Australian Koala Foundation is a non-profit organisation based in Brisbane, dedicated to the conservation and effective management of wild koalas and their habitats. That means eucalyptus trees! One of the Foundation’s jobs is to plant sanctuary and food trees for koalas, and when it comes to food trees, they’ve reached over 27,000 to date.

You can give a gift of trees by donating to the Australian Koala Foundation, which will plant a specific number of trees and perhaps even add your friend, family member or Secret Santa recipient to the honour wall at their field research station in the Sunshine Coast hinterland.

Give to Botanic Gardens, near and far

At Kew Royal Botanic Gardens in the UK, you can adopt and gift a seed for Christmas. This might sound small and insignificant, but the impact is huge. The gift will contribute to the ongoing costs of maintaining Kew’s Millennium Seed Bank, which is an important resource for the conservation of the world’s plant species. Kew’s project allows you to choose a species of seed to adopt, or to save an entire plant species from extinction, depending on the value of your gift. Read more here!

Several botanic gardens in Australia offer similar programs. Maybe there’s a plant lover in your life who would like to support their local garden? One way you can help them to do so is by donating in their name at Christmas! Here’s a list of some local botanic gardens with links to their giving projects:

Royal Botanic Gardens Victoria

Royal Botanic Garden Sydney

Royal Tasmanian Botanical Gardens

Botanic Gardens of South Australia

Australian National Botanic Gardens

When it comes to gifts they say ‘it’s the thought that counts’. We think giving any of these gifts is very thoughtful indeed! But keep in mind that our selection here represents just a small number of the ways you can give ‘green’ this year. You could volunteer time to a local conservation group with a few of your friends this summer; you could donate a gardening day to your grandma; or you could plant a native tree in your backyard on Christmas Eve.

And if you think of any other good ideas, please let us know with a mention on Instagram!