Christmas gifts for gardeners

Posted: Friday 16 December 2011
by Kate Bradbury

What should you get the gardener in your life for Christmas? Another pair of secateurs? Some garden twine?

Christmas presents under a Christmas tree

What should you get the gardener in your life for Christmas? Another pair of secateurs? Some garden twine? A box marked ‘Seeds’, for storing seeds?

We gardeners are a fussy bunch, but – if you get it right – you can buy meaningful gifts that will be enjoyed for years to come.

Unless you know them well, be careful when choosing plants to give your green-fingered friend. There’s a fine line between gorgeous and grotesque – and what you regard as pretty, your gardener might spend the next five years trying to kill.

But for scent and beauty, you can’t go wrong with witch hazel (Hamamelis spp). Available from garden centres now, these winter-flowering shrubs will burst into bloom within a few weeks, adding a splash of much-needed colour in the last days of winter. Another favourite is wintersweet, Chimonanthus praecox.

If your gardener grows fruit and veg, or is a keen allotmenteer, chances are they’ll have plenty of seeds already, and - with so many varieties available - you're likely to choose the wrong ones. Take advantage of bare-root planting season instead, and consider buying your gardener fruit trees. Choose blackcurrants and gooseberries for gardeners with small plots, or, for something special, go for heritage apple and pear trees, local to the area. (Do check that they like eating gooseberries, blackcurrants or apples first.)

For wildlife lovers, some products are more beneficial than others. Avoid buying bumblebee nest boxes, ladybird towers and butterfly feeders, which rarely attract the creatures they’re designed for. Choose solitary bee hotels (or make your own), bird boxes, baths or bird feeders instead. If you're on a budget, a well-chosen bird feeder and a bag of sunflower hearts should work wonders.

Those with money to spend might consider buying a wormery or compost bin. There are many designs on the market, with wormeries priced from £60 to over £100. (Always choose the option to have worms delivered at a later date – no-one wants to open a bag of dead worms on Christmas day.) Posh secateurs, gardening knives and decent tools are also worth buying, but you’re better off taking your gardener to the shop to try them out first. Comfort and ease of use are key to using tools for a long time.

Lastly, you can’t go wrong with a book. There are plenty of great gardening books out at the moment, from the inspirational to the practical. For my birthday last year, some friends bought me a the first edition of Elizabeth and her Garden. Treat bumblebee lovers to Sladen’s The Humble-Bee, which is one of the most wonderful books I’ve ever read (the 1912 edition, rather than the recently republished version, is lovely). My favourite inspirational books of 2011 are The Living Garden by Jane Powers and Cleve West’s Our Plot, both of which celebrate gardening in tune with nature. Practical favourites include The Edible Balcony by Alex Mitchell, Flowers by Toby Buckland, and The Allotment Source Book, by Caroline Foley. Or buy a book by one of our greatest gardeners – Gertrude Jekyll, Beth Chatto, Vita Sackville-West, Christopher Lloyd. A world apart from another pair of secateurs, some garden twine and a box marked 'Seeds' for storing seeds.

What would you like to receive for Christmas, or what have you bought for the gardener in your life?

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Talkback: Christmas gifts for gardeners
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happymarion 16/12/2011 at 16:01

Eight of my gardening friends are getting the "The Bee-kind Garden". It has something in it for all kinds of gardeners; veg.and fruit growers, plants used in medicine gardeners, flowers for cutting gardeners, wildlife friendly gardeners, poetry loving gardeners, history loving gardeners and good book loving gardeners. And of course bee-loving gardeners. A big thank you to David Squire for making my shopping a little easier this year.

GRACELAND 16/12/2011 at 16:28

i wanted a pair of edgeing shers but wife said you can't give cutting things as presents  ) :

Helen2 17/12/2011 at 06:32

I have asked for a gift voucher for some engraved garden labels from a new site I found on the web -

Botticelliwoman 17/12/2011 at 08:14

I bought my friend, who has a tiny garden and a weeny shed, a folding wheelbarrow, she loved it! I wish more of my friends were gardeners, there's such a huge choice.

sean steadman 17/12/2011 at 14:59

Most gardeners love feeding the Birds too, so a bird feeder and some bird feed would make a good little present for all gardeners. It also gives you good chance to pop out into the garden to keep an eye on your plants and feed the birds at the same time.

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