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Jan 07, 2013, 9:57 am
For your sweetheart: Environmentally-friendly gift ideas for Valentine's Day
By Heather Thorstensen

Light up the night with your sweetie with hand-dipped beeswax candles from the Jay C. Hormel Nature Center in Austin. (Submitted photo)


Hand-dipped beeswax candles

Want a romantic, candlelight night with your sweetheart? The Jay C. Hormel Nature Center in Austin sells hand-dipped beeswax candles. The candles are reminiscent of the kind that pioneers would use for light, according to Julie Champlin, the nature center assistant.

“They would gather the wax and melt it down and you would have to hand dip them 35 to 50 times, depending on how large you wanted your beeswax candle,” she says.

Nowadays, the dipping is done by the center's staff and volunteers.

“These are much denser than store-bought, paraffin candles and they burn slower with a nice, natural fragrance,” Champlin says.

Cost: $4 a pair.


Fairy gardens

What can be a more green gift than a growing plant?

Fairy gardens, which use miniature plants and accessories small enough for a fairy to use, are a big hit right now, says Diane Hallstrom, of Hallstrom's Florist & Greenhouse in Red Wing. Her shop sells kits that would make a sweet Valentine's Day gift and project between a mother and daughter.

The whimsical gardens often include miniature furniture, small stepping stones and, of course, fairy dust, “which means the little fairy has been around,” Hallstrom says.

Cost: Fairy garden kits start at $22.



For adults, terrariums – miniature gardens in glass containers – are becoming popular again.

“The neat thing about terrariums is they pretty much water themselves because they get condensation on the inside from the light on the glass, so the water drips from the inside,” says Hallstrom.

Just don't put your terrarium in direct sunlight, she warns, or it will become heat damaged.

She recommends people bring in their own glass containers, one that has never been used for anything other than holding water to ensure the environment will be a healthy one for plants. Terrariums call for container garden soil, a thin layer of sheet moss to keep moisture in the soil and plants that don't need deep roots. Decorations inside could include miniature animal statues, seashells or, for Valentine's Day, red rocks in the shape of a heart, Hallstrom says. Her staff can walk people through the process of putting a terrarium together.

“It's a fun project to do together or to give as a gift,” she says.

Cost: Terrarium plants start at $3 each.


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