Christmas list: gardening gifts

by James Alexander-Sinclair

It is December (already) and Christmas is lurking around the corner like a tinsel clad, benevolent bogeyman, dripping with cranberry sauce and liqueur chocolates.

Woolly socksIt is December (already) and Christmas is lurking around the corner like a tinsel clad, benevolent bogeyman dripping with cranberry sauce and liqueur chocolates.

You know that perennial question “what would you like for Christmas”? It was all so very easy when I was a child. I always had a list of things without which life would be unbearable. One particular Christmas (around 1966), I remember the choice was between a Johnny Seven or a Secret Sam. Both were complicated weapons systems that fired plastic bullets and rubbery missiles. Those of you who are male and of a certain age will definitely remember them. As a teenager, it became even simpler: an envelope containing crisp notes rather than trusting the dubious tastes of one’s relatives. A mother’s idea of a cool T-shirt was always, always completely wrong.

Nowadays I have grown out of most toys (unless you count snazzy gadgets) and my tastes are far more practical. I take refuge in those garden essentials that are really boring but without which life would be a great deal more difficult and less enjoyable. So, for those interested, here are my top five Christmas presents.

Really warm socks. I have a fantastic, hard wearing pair of mohair socks that are perfect in boots and a gorgeously soft cashmere pair for shuffling around the house restoring the circulation. (I really am getting old and boring if I can get excited by socks.)

A small stainless steel border fork. Not much good for heavy digging but for working amongst plants it is absolutely perfect. Other indispensible tools include my plastic leaf rake that is excellent for leaves, borders and paths. Much better than the wire tined version.

A large plastic dustbin. Perfect for hedge clippings, rose prunings and anything else (provided it is not too heavy). Often much better than a wheelbarrow (especially if your garden has any steps). In the same parcel I would accept some large plastic buckets for collecting weeds and other, non-compostable, stuff.

Almost anything from the catalogue of Crug Farm Plants. This is a wonderful nursery in North Wales stuffed with exotic plants of which I have never heard, from Aesculus wangii  to Zingiber mioga ‘Crug’s Zing’.

String: ideally tarred twine because it smells so good. I would like lots of it so wherever I look it will be easy to find. Those paper wrapped packages can, however, turn into a terrible tangle if you pull the wrong end or they get too wet, so I put them in old coffee tins with holes drilled in their lids. The loose end protrudes and any tangling and unravelling is safely confined.

I would add a subscription to Gardeners' World Magazine but that could be perceived as oiling up to my employers.

You probably have other, much better ideas.

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Gardeners' World Web User 04/12/2008 at 16:54

Manure. That's what I'd like, rather than a critique of your post.

Gardeners' World Web User 04/12/2008 at 18:53

i once gave my dad a ball of string for christmas. I was four and convinced that's what he wanted. Not sure I got that quite right.

Gardeners' World Web User 04/12/2008 at 19:08

last year I got a ball of twine on a spindle and a pair of scissors a stainless steel trowel and fork, christmas heaven!!!!!!

Gardeners' World Web User 05/12/2008 at 14:06

When the days are cold and stormy, I just get out my garden planters and create - either great arrangements for the house or wonderful containers for those Christmas towels and soaps in the bathroom.

Gardeners' World Web User 05/12/2008 at 21:16

Christmas pressies this year are wellies for daughter and son-in-law with thick socks so I can have mine back, Dad some pruning tools as he's mislaid his thats through his old age, I want some new buckets to keep all the foliage that I cut for my class of ladies that I teach in my workshops as I have so much that I run out of them and now have to use the dustbin.

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