Have you finished your Christmas shopping yet or do you leave it to the last-minute? This year I’m feeling more organised than ever but am still completely stuck on what to buy Mr. G.
To help me in my bid to come up with at least one surprise, I’ve been scouring the internet for some ideas and while this excellent article from Bumbles of Rice “What (These) Women Really Want” is aimed more towards us women, Sinead’s post inspired me to ask a few gardeners for their tips and suggestions. I’m still none the wiser about what I’ll be buying Mr G, but hopefully it might give you a few gift ideas for gardening friends or relations. So in no particular order, here’s a few thoughts from some blogging and non blogging gardeners:
Gardening Gifts: What We Really Want
Kitty Scully is Head Food Grower at Airfield, a 38 acre working farm in Dundrum, Dublin that’s open to the public. From tools to clothing to vouchers, here’s Kitty’s wish list:
A pair of Okatsune Secateurs. I love my Felcos but I’ve heard great things about these Japanese snips from my professional gardening friends and now really want a pair.
Muck Boots. Hard wearing, warm, practical yet still look good, what’s not to like. My present pair owe me nothing so it’s time for an upgrade.
Gift Voucher for Irish Seed Savers Association. Any gift that will increase my heritage apple collection and also help support an organisation that works so hard to on serve Ireland’s fruit, vegetables, grains and potato’s in a real and practical way is on my wish list.
I was going to add a gift voucher for a personal masseuse as well but that could be taking things too far 😉
Joanne Butler from OURganic Gardens has spread the community gardening word up in Donegal and as a result has recently won both the Judges and Peoples Choice titles at the Save Our Planet Awards.
The first item on my Christmas wish list would have to be a nice, small, compact, petrol hedge trimmer – I’m not even sure one exists but in my mind it has to be small. I’m so tempted to buy the battery type ones but so many people have told me they’re just not worth it as they don’t hold the power for very long. As my garden is going to eventually have quite a lot of hedging (too much to hand prune!) then I may need to take their advice – the nearest find I have seen so far is the Ryobi quick fire hedge trimmer. Don’t ask me any of the technical power details as that is the point I usually glaze over but this seems a nice size to me and looks good !! (And yes I’m exactly the same when looking to buy a car!)
Next up on the list would have to be tickets for Chelsea Flower Show. I really enjoyed watching it on TV last year so I’m hinting away at home at the moment, but its a biggie timewise, as that’s the time of year when I’ll be up to my eyes in the community gardens but I have told my husband I can always take a little time out for ‘field study’ …. Of course 😉
Last on my list would be all my seeds for next years community gardens – I bought great seed last year from Tamar Organics, Seedaholic and Green Vegetable Seeds. The quality was excellent and as I buy quite big orders my viability rate this year was well above 90% which is great value for money . At this time of year I get so excited about ordering seeds, but I have a few more weeks of finishing the garden plans off and then I can get stuck in – present or no present 🙂 this is a job that has to be done.
So that would be my lot – and if I could quickly sneak in some snow then I’d have the best Christmas ever. Last year we had a really big problem here with leather jackets and slugs, so if we don’t see some freezing temperatures soon, then next year will be just as bad if not worse!!
Tanguy de Toulgoet of Dunmore Country School in County Laois has created a very charming French potager garden that I took some community gardeners to visit a while ago and wrote about here if you’d like to see some images. Here’s Tanguy’s suggestions:
I will give the first present for our mother nature as always and I will plant a lovely small tree in the garden – an Amelanchier grandiflora ‘Ballerina’. It is very useful for the birds (I have it planted already).
Then I would read again one of my favourite bee-keeping books and it is a free pdf which is good for the pocket.
The last gift would be a nice shovel from Fruit Hill Farm – one of my best tools. I must say I sell a very good tool as well “the oscillating hoe” It is €37 for the 125mm+handle+courier included or €30 collected in Durrow. We also sell gardening vouchers – see the website for more information.
Hans Wieland has been waving the organic flag for many years from The Organic Centre in Leitrim and with seeds, tools, plants and seeds at his fingertips, I can imagine it must be difficult to come up with three gardening gifts that Hans doesn’t already have. Having visited the Centre with some of the Community Garden Network group last year, I shouldn’t have been surprised to find that he’s looking for unusual plants in his wish list. Here’s why:
First of all a Nagami Kumquat bush to be grown in the conservatory, because my son’s girlfriend Florence convinced me.
Secondly a Quince tree, Serbian Gold from Otter Farm, because I have great childhood memories of harvesting wild quince with my late father and I love Mark Diacomo’s style of growing unusual fruits.
Lastly, another packet of “Blight resistant heirloom tomatoes” from German collector Gerhard Bohl, including “Cerise gelb”, “Golden Currant”,” Tarasenko “ and “Bianca Cherry”. They’re only available by post to G. Bohl – S. Kunstmann, Waldstr. 40, D-90596 Schwanstetten, Germany.
Ciaran Burke of The Garden School and The Earth Touch Project recently visited Callan community garden and photographed both my and a couple of community gardeners hands, as part of the Hands That Change This Earth photographic project that he’s been working on. With that in mind it came as no surprise to read the first item on Ciaran’s first Christmas list (and thanks for the tip off Ciaran as didn’t know they existed!)
Mmm… a Sony QX1 lens camera for smart phone. Dead handy for photos on the go when visiting gardens and easy to pack.
A pallet of organic peat free compost for my New Growth Project courses in Marlay – needs no explanation!
Lastly, a nice selection of hardy shrub and tree seeds from around the globe, to try new species in an Irish climate!
Lily de Sylva of Smallholding Ireland shares her three garden related desires which I’m pleased to see include a bit of well-earned relaxation in amongst all the hard work! Lily runs a variety of self-sufficiency course’s based in Cloughjordan, Co Tipperary..
First up, a Griofan rootaxe. I already have one of these that I’ve been using for 10 years and it’s paid for itself a hundred times over. There’s nothing like it for digging trenches, clearing rooty areas, skinning the turf off new plots etc. The broad-blade one is the best, I think. sadly, this year, the handle broke on mine, Of course, I could just get a new handle, but if I had a second Griofan then the HelpXers could use it too.
Next on the list is Arramara seaweed. Not the seaweed dust, this is a granulated product and serves for a multitude of purposes, especially as a slow-release fertiliser and an additive to animal feed. Buying it from garden centres one bag at a time was kinda stupid, but it proved to be almost impossible to get Arramara Teo to sell it to you in bulk… communications always tailed off. Now the company has been sold, will we be able to get it at all?
Lastly some Kneippus Bath Products. I’m not really into girly stuff and beauty products, but this stuff is the bomb. I only have hot water for baths in the winter, when the range is going, which is handy because that’s usually when I’m doing heavy preparation work outside and often getting soaked in the process. A really hot bath soaking in this eases all tensions and aches and makes for a blissful nights sleep, ready for a new day’s digging tomorrow.
Gareth Austin is a lecturer and BBC broadcaster in Horticulture based in Donegal. Gareth is a big friend of community gardening, having helped to host a Community Garden Network meeting in Derry a couple of years ago, showing a group of us many of the horticulture projects that have taken place there over recent years. Here’s Gareth’s thoughts on gifts that gardeners might like to receive:
If I was buying a gardener a present for Christmas firstly I would avoid anything with ‘Gardeners Gift Set’ on it….a pair of gloves, some expensive string and a bit of nonsense copper labels or something…no thank you. I’d be thinking something practical.
Now, depending on the budget, this will of course have a big sway in your thoughts. But any gardener would be delighted with a Vitapod Heated propagator, a serious bit of kit, I’ve had one for 4 years and its a wonderful piece of equipment to have in your polytunnel or greenhouse.
Next I’d be thinking about membership to your nearest castle gardens or parkland – a year-long pass to somewhere inspiring and fantastic whether it be Belvedere House, Wells House, National trust etc.
Lastly I’d be thinking about a great spade..not a normal run-of-the-mill spade but a fantastic stainless steel, with teak handle or the likes.
David Corscadden is a Kildare base horticultural journalist and blogger. David has a weekly gardening column in the Kildare Post and his blog won Best Great Outdoors 2014 at the Blog Awards Ireland.
A garden lantern. This is at the more expensive end of a present list, and of course you can find lanterns for slightly cheaper, but I think this lantern from Marks and Spencer would be great on any patio. I like its modern feel and candle light is a great thing to add atmosphere to a garden.
A good quality garden spade like this Joseph Bentley one from Johnstown Garden Centre. When it comes to tools for the garden you can never buy the wrong one in my eyes. If they don’t think they need it at first a gardener will soon realise that it comes in very handy to have a full arsenal of tools. I am a big fan of wooden handled tools and I really like the design of this garden spade’s handle.
I, for one, would love a gift of seeds for Christmas. I think plants can be a bit too tricky to buy for some people and seeds are the safer option. When it comes to gifts of seed the more unusual the better. Buy the person something that will excite them and not just some bog standard sweet pea. I love these gift boxes of seeds from Brown Envelope Seeds. They are presented well, the company does good work and they are available at a few different price points.
Homemade Gardeners Gifts
If you’re still stuck for ideas after all those suggestions, or would like to make your own gardening gifts, Jill Guarino Brown of Brown, Green & More shows us how to make our own from bouquet garni to seed ball ornaments and seed bombs. You can find out how here.
Patti Zacharia Estep from the Garden Matter blog gives a step-by-step guide on how to make hand printed tea towels using ferns while Barb Rosen from Our Fairfield Home and Garden blog has put together a post with some lovely DIY garden gift baskets that are a far cry from the ones Gareth referred to above.
My Wish List….
I think my own list would include a luxurious bar of lavender-scented handmade soap as I’ve noticed that the skin on my hands is much softer and doesn’t crack like it used to since I stopped using pump-action soaps. I’d also like to try out the oscillating hoe mentioned in Tanguay’s comments as I’ve heard great things about them.
Lastly I’ve a terrible habit of loosing my gardening gloves and my Showa gloves are by far the best I’ve owned to date so a brightly coloured pair, perhaps in bright pink that would stand out a mile, would be very useful.
Have you anything to add to the ideas above?
Please note, other than a few of my own images, all photo credits belong to the pages directly linked in this article and I have only used them for the purpose of helping to spotlight them.