Christmas Gifts for the Practical Gardener
by Emma Cooper
Pewter leaf bowl and spoon £37 from Glover and Smith from notonthehighstreet.com
It’s that time of the year again, when we do our best to buy the perfect gift for our green-fingered loved ones. In theory it’s easy to buy gifts for gardeners – we know they like plants and wellies. In practice it’s a little more tricky, as new plants may not be the right fit for the garden, and another trowel may not be required. Here are a few ideas if you’re struggling to shop for those who grow.
Glover and Smith do a fantastic range of pewter gifts, with all of their designs inspired by nature. I adore the ginkgo leaf salad servers (£65) and keen gardeners will want to adorn their dining table with the miniature flower pot and trowel bowl and spoon set (£48), which is ideal as a sugar bowl or jam pot. A cheese-lover with a sense of humour might appreciate the trowel with the mouse on the handle (£32.50).
Gardening books are always popular, and my favourite from this year’s offerings is Beatrix Potter’s Gardening Life, by Marta McDowell (Timber Press, RRP £16.99). Stories like Peter Rabbit and Mrs Tiggywinkle have sparked an interest in gardening and nature in generations of children, and the book contains a biography of her life as a gardener, as well as a look at her gardens through the seasons. Rounded off with a guide to relevant locations in the Lake District and elsewhere in the UK, there’s plenty here to keep gardeners – and Beatrix Potter fans – occupied until spring, and beyond.
If you’re looking for a ‘money can’t buy’ kind of gift, then there are some great crowd-funded projects producing garden-related things you just won’t find elsewhere. Alys Fowler and Steve Benbow are writing ‘Letters to a Beekeeper’; their Unbound project is fully-funded, but you can still support it (from £20) and the recipient will get double the excitement with this one, as the book will turn up next year once it’s finished and printed. The Sarvari Trust is raising money to promote its wonderful, blight-free (and tasty!) Sárpo potatoes. They are accepting both donations (from £5) and loans (from £50). Loan interest is paid in seed potatoes, a lovely idea for an allotmenteer whose spuds are blighted by blight (www.buzzbank.org ). And to wrap your gifts what about , Eden’s Paper‘s crowd-funded range of 100% plantable wrapping paper – which includes seeds for carrots, tomatoes, broccoli, chillies or onion. Seed shopping will never be quite the same again.
Frustrated kitchen gardeners, waiting out the winter, can be reinvigorated with the chance of some indoor gardening. Sprouters and seeds offer the chance of fresh veggies year-round, even for gardeners with no garden! There’s a sprouting system to suit all budgets; the Organic Gardening Catalogue’s hand-crafted clay Gaia sprouter (£34.95) is available in green and white, and would grace the most stylish of kitchen counters. For gardening friends with a little outdoor space, Burgon & Ball’s new Verti-plant system (£9.95 for two) allows them to grow herbs (or flowers) on walls and fences.
For foodie gardeners, check out the Eden Project online shop, the perfect place to find fabulous, guilt-free gifts, chosen with the environmental ethos of the Eden Project in mind (and with many sourced locally in Cornwall). They combine a coffee plant with ground coffee, and a mug, to enchant caffeine-fiends (£16.50); or there’s an olive tree/ herby olives combo for £14.50. Their Festive Chilli Bouquet of chillies and herbs (34.95) does double duty, as both a gift and a seasonal table decoration.
For little green fingers, have a look at the Gardening Discovery Tin, £10 which is widely available (Kew’s online shop is one stockist). More mature gardeners will also love Kew’s range of practical gifts, with everything from gloves and watering cans to kneelers and botanically-themed toiletries. You can really get into the groove with their plantable record (£7.50), a 45rpm sleeve with a 60s floral design, filled with two sheets of handmade paper filled with flower seeds. Flower power!
For the gardener who really does have everything, how about supporting a worthy project on their behalf? There are plenty of charitable options on offer. With Good Gifts you can plant 21 bagpipe trees in Tanzania (from £18); or a pair of trysting trees in the UK (£30) would make a lovely gift for a new couple. The Heritage Seed Library allows you adopt a heritage vegetable variety (£20, including a packet of seeds) and ensure its conservation for future generations. Their ‘Transparent’ tomatoes would cause a stir on the allotment – they grow pale yellow fruits that verge on the translucent. Oxfam Unwrapped gives you the opportunity to send the gift of an allotment (£24) where it’s really needed. You can also use them to send a message to someone who isn’t in your good books this year – a gift of manure (£9) really keeps on giving!