In the spirit of giving, Longwood Gardens adorns a Wildlife Tree with edible ornaments for our furry friends every holiday season. The Wildlife Tree is a 20-foot tall Douglas fir from Longwood’s own nursery. It is decorated in ornaments handcrafted from natural materials—Crabapple Bundles, Raisin Icicles, Bird Seed Ornaments, Cranberry Wreaths and Pine Cone Feeders. These ornaments are not only decorative, but serve the greater purpose of feeding birds and squirrels during the harsh winter months. The Wildlife Tree attracts many different birds, including Blue Jays, Finches, Chickadees and Cardinals. Our Longwood staff and volunteers handcraft all the edible natural ornaments, and replenish daily.
Below we share how to make edible ornaments for your own Wildlife Tree so you can watch in wonder as birds and squirrels enjoy your treats throughout the winter.
Using a needle and waxed dental floss, thread raisins to form 1.5 to 2-foot lengths. Start with a knot at the end of the string or tie and knot the floss around the first raisin and continue stringing raisins. Tie the top end with raffia or a colorful ribbon to hang.
Bird Seed Ornaments
3/4 Cup flour
1/2 Cup water
1 pkg knox gelatin (2 ½ teaspoons)
3 Tablespoons corn syrup
4 Cups birdseed
Loops of string or Raffia for hangers
Add gelatin to boiling water, and mix until fully dissolved.
Add corn syrup and remove from heat
Pour into bowl with the flour and mix lightly
Mix in birdseed
To shape: press dough firmly into lightly oiled cookie cutter on waxed paper or into a muffin tin. Fill shape halfway with dough, and then place the loop of string in the center, before filling to the top. To finish, gently pull off the cookie cutter and allow birdseed cookie to dry before hanging. Note: To form sphere-like shapes, you can also mold birdseed cookies by hand.