As always at this time of year, I am asked for Christmas present ideas for the keen or aspiring gardener, so I thought I’d share a few in the column. As I always like giving gifts that are a bit quirky and personal, they usually take a bit of researching and organising but I think that adds to the sentiment.
This week in work we planted a tree in memory of Tim, one of our friends and colleagues – and someone who loved Christmas. As long as it’s the ‘right’ tree in the ‘right’ place, a tree can also make a nice and obviously lasting gift for someone special. We chose a wonderful 12ft red oak for Tim as the garden can cheerfully accommodate it. It was so nice to be able to plant something so mature and that already has ‘presence’–thank you to Russell at Border Nurseries in Raglan for supplying it.
Be sure to do your research – of site and recipient–and if a tree is too big, then other plants also make nice presents that can be enjoyed all year round. You will often be able to match a name or some significance to a plant or even packet of seeds. Roses are particularly good for that – there will be a rose for everyone, from My Lovely Mum, Special Wishes, Thank You, Best Friends and even Little Rascal.
And lots of seeds have people’s names as a variety, or choose things like Forget-me-Not, or get creative and send a packet of garden peas with the message Peas and Goodwill at Christmas.
A couple of my favourite practical presents include the beautiful little Japanese Okatsune secateurs. They are an absolute delight to use, the 101’s are perfect for smaller hands, and they all make the most rewarding ‘clunk’ when they cut. I love mine. All their other tools are just as effective and a joy to use too.
And another favourite was also given ‘first place’ in the ‘must have’ list by my brother –‘although tricky to wrap’, as he added. The Henchman Tripod ladder is possibly the thing that has transformed our garden maintenance work in the last 30 odd years the most. The three legged ladder just makes doing anything ‘off the ground’ safe as all three legs adjust independently. This makes it perfect for banks and slopes, uneven ground and even for accommodating steps.
The design means it is also easy to use in borders and flowerbeds without squishing things and it is wonderfully light to cart about. The perfect gift for pruning, hedge-cutting and harvesting fruit it is available in heights from 5ft to 16ft and you can also speak to a person about any queries at www.henchman.co.uk They are so confident about their product they offer full refunds and exchanges too.
Gardening clothes are always a good gift – we have come a long way from gardening clothes just being ‘old clothes’ and there are great trousers on the market with padded knees, pockets for twine and secateurs and proper-fitting waistbands. www.genus.gs offer all the gardener needs to be warm and comfortable outdoors, including 3-season socks and waterproof gloves and all their clothes double up fabulously as pawfect dog-walking clothes.
Other great gifts include anything that will help wildlife – from bird feeders (and food), bird baths, swift boxes, hedgehog houses, bat boxes and ‘anything that will help our hardworking honeybees’. Bees for Development have the most bee-autiful shop in Monmouth and online -www.beesfordevelopment.org–with a present for everyone. My favourite is The Bees for Development Bee House, which provides the right sized cavity for a honey bee colony to build its nest and live naturally. And all of your purchases will help BfD continue their wonderful charity work.
And of course these are all gifts that give twice – once to the recipient and also to our wonderful wildlife.