Plants in the Post: An At-Home Project

During these strange days of isolation, it’s easy to feel detached from the outside world and those we love. But physical separation doesn’t automatically mean emotional separation from friends and family. The plants are still growing, and the post is still posting, and I’ve got a great project to help combat COVID-19 loneliness. It’s called Plant Post, and it’ll keep you connected with the important things – plants, people and play – over the months to come, and beyond.

Remember the days of dashing to the post box, discovering a letter with your name inscribed across the front and the excitement of tearing it open and devouring the contents within? Receiving post from someone you care for is one of life’s loveliest gifts – equal only to the feeling of fresh socks, the scent of a bush lemon in flower and the turning of the first autumn leaves. 

In recent years, the beauty of this slower, thoughtful form of keeping in touch has fallen by the wayside. But with many of us, across the world, now limited to the confines of our homes, the time for meaningful communication with one another is ripe. 

What better way then, to connect with the people in our lives than through the garden? And what better way is there to share our love of plants in times of isolation than through the post?

How do I get started?
Whether you live in an apartment in the middle of the city or a house surrounded by acres of garden, Plant Post is here to solve all of your isolation boredom.

It’s as simple as tucking a pair of secateurs in your back pocket and taking a stroll around your garden or neighbourhood (with a visit to your closest post office tacked on the end). Throw in a handful of creativity and a sprinkle of thoughtfulness along the way and Bob’s your uncle, you’re a qualified Plant Poster.

What you’ll need

  • Old boxes, cardboard, card, paper – really anything that can be recycled as a box, parcel or postcard. Get creative!
  • Sticky tape
  • String
  • Pen, pencils, paint
  • PLANTS! Or seeds, cuttings, leaves etc.

Unless you are a recent graduate of the school of Marie Kondo, you shouldn’t need to buy anything for this project – with the exception perhaps of stamps and/or postage costs. 

Garden bounty ready for Plant Posting!

What do I post?

The art of letter writing has existed for thousands of years, with writers sending dispatches to family, clients, friends, foes and lovers about anything and everything – from tales of great adventures to education, property deeds, stories of loss and secret love messages. 

Plant Post should be no different – except that within your letter/parcel/post, a garden element should exist. Think seeds taped to postcards, cuttings in boxes, tea bags, jam recipes, sexy plant sketches, dried posies for Grandma – the choices are endless.

Don’t feel pressured to send long winded letters with pages of detail to accompany your plants if that’s not your thing – a postcard with a poem, joke or rude illustration is just as endearing, especially if it’s accompanied by a handful of seeds! 

The secret to embracing Plant Post is realising that there are no rules, except maybe to take pause and consider the people in your life and what kind of Plant Post they might enjoy receiving. Oh, and also remembering to drop the letter/parcel/post at the post outlet. A very important rule. 

To help you get started on your merry Plant Posting way, here are some ideas of who and what you might send:

Plant Post for the person stuck inside a city apartment: Send a home-made smudge stick!

Since ancient times, cultures across the world have burned smudge sticks to cleanse and purify.

If you know of someone struggling with cabin fever – they might be confined to a small apartment or locked inside with their in-laws – a re-energising smoking ceremony might be just what they need.

Smudge sticks are simple to create and can be made from any of your favourite garden or neighbourhood scented plants. I raided my herb patch for the smudge stick below, but you can mix it up by adding native Australian plant materials like eucalyptus leaves, tea tree and lemon myrtle. There are loads of great tutorials on the internet, including this one.

I packed my smudge stick up in an old box I found in the cupboard, but you could make the bundle smaller to fit inside an envelope if you are sending via the post office, or wrapped in brown paper and deposited in your Plant Post pal’s mail box.

Lavender, rosemary, thyme, rose, laurel, sage and lemon balm foraged from the garden.
Combine all plant materials together in a bundle and secure the ends for ease of tying.
Once your bundle is tied and fully dried out, it is ready for smoking!
Include a cute note for your Plant Post pal with the ingredients, directions, warnings.

Plant Post for the person who loves surprises:  Send a mystery packet of seeds!

What’s more exciting than planting seeds? Receiving a mystery bundle of seeds from a friend in the mail of course!

Autumn is a great time for seed planting, so raid your drawers for old seed packets and garden beds for seed heads – wattle, cosmos and sunflower seeds are all available to collect now – and send them off in an envelope or taped to a homemade postcard to a friend. Include a description of how, where and when to sew the seeds to help your Plant Post pal get planting.

Plant Post for the book worm: Send secret flower gifts in books!

Books are a little like gardens: great for nurturing the soul, sharing with others and keeping loneliness at bay.

Now is a great time to pass along the latest page turner or your favourite classic with friends and family. For an added indulgence, press flower or leaf cuttings inside the pages for the reader to discover later.

Bundle your book in brown paper and twine and voila! Your parcel is Plant Post ready.

Plant Post for the green thumb: Send plant cuttings!

Now is a great time to divide plants in the garden. If you have the luxury of an indoor or outdoor plant paradise, dig up roots or take cuttings to send to that friend with the knack for keeping things alive.

Soak the plants overnight before sending and bundle their roots in wet paper and plastic to keep from drying out. This lucky recipient is receiving sedums, euphorbia, geraniums and bergenia – all plants that I am confident will survive the Plant Post journey, but I’ve carefully packaged their roots just in case.

Plant Post for the person who loves craft: Send letters on home-made paper!

You know what would really impress/piss off that annoyingly smug, clever, crafty friend of yours? If you sent them a tutorial of how to make handmade plant-paper, INSCRIBED ON HANDMADE PLANT-PAPER!

Before you stop reading because this project sounds too difficult, let me assure you it is NOT. Quality and appearance of the final product will most likely increase with more time and effort spent, but if you’re looking for a fifteen minute how-to: This. Is. It.

If you are anything like me, you will have stacks of notebooks filled with meaningless scribble piled around the house. Tear 5-10 pages of aforementioned meaningless scribble into small pieces and soak in hot water for 10-15 minutes. *Note – if there is any pen on the pages the colour will stain the final product.

Pulse paper in blender until paper is pulpy.

For this step you will need something that resembles a net. Luckily for me, my border-collie, Sally, recently tore the bottom half of screen from the door into the house in a desperate attempt to steal the biscuit tin. I cut up portions of the torn screen to create nets for this project which worked really well (thanks Sal!) but you could use anything perforated that will allow the paper to dry out – a sieve, grate, or tray could also work.

Take handfuls of pulpy paper mixture and press flatly into the shape of the paper you would like. Add handfuls of seeds or flower petals into the mixture or press leaves into the surface to decorate.

Depending on the weather, the paper should take 6-8 hours in the sun to dry enough for you to cut/fold/tear/scribble on and post off to the newly dethroned King or Queen of Craft.

Wear your new crown proudly.

Cut up 5-10 pages of scrap paper into small pieces & let soak in hot water for 10-15 minutes.
After soaking, pulse water and paper in a blender until you achieve something that resembles this. Probably around 5-10 pulses.
Press pulp as flat as possible into desired shape on screen and firmly add plant material.
Hey presto! Handmade paper ready to be cut/assembled/scribbled on by you or your Plant Post pal.

A word of caution

There are rules about moving plants interstate in Australia. This is to control the spread of pests, diseases and weeds. Always check quarantine laws before sending any plant material interstate. Find out more information about interstate quarantine, including a guide outlining what can and cannot be taken across state borders here.

C