10 fascinating garden gifts we’d all love to get

November 27th, 2016 Posted In: Garden style & living, Shop

Garden gifts are tricky.

I don’t think any of us wants a random plant. Certainly not if we have middle-sized gardens, because there’s rarely a spare space to squeeze a plant in.

And there are always grumbles on Twitter about the inevitability of hand creams as garden gifts at Christmas.

But the Garden Media Guild has come to the rescue by holding its annual awards just a month before Christmas. Many of the award-winning books, magazines and more make perfect garden gifts.

Garden gifts

The great and the good of the gardening world huddle together. The 28 judges include Sir Tim Smits of the Lost Gardens of Heligan, Penelope Hobhouse, George Plumptre of the NGS, and other gardening household names.

They decide which books, magazines, TV programmes, photographs and new media have been the best of the best over the year.

Books make great garden gifts…

If you love gardening, books are quite literally fascinating. And there’s a good chance recipients won’t have got these as they were only published recently. So here are my own favourites from the Garden Media Guild’s pick of the best gardening books.

(Note: There are some affiliate links, which means you can click on the headline or photo to buy. If you do, I may get a small fee, but that doesn’t affect the price you pay.)

The New Wild Garden by Ian Hodgson

The New Wild Garden won the Peter Seabrook Practical Book of the Year Award. It’s inspiring, practical, informative, well-written and beautifully produced. What more could you ask? I think that anyone who loves gardens would be truly fascinated by this book. It’s definitely my own personal favourite of the gardening books I’ve read this year.

The RHS Companion to Wildlife Gardening by Chris Baines

This informative and delicious book was a short-listed finalist in the same award.

At this point, I feel I should remind myself (and possibly you) that ‘wildlife gardening’ is about the wee beasties that live in our gardens and ‘wild gardening’ is about naturalistic planting.

So ‘The Companion to Wildlife Gardening’ addresses different issues to those of ‘The New Wild Garden’. However,  this is another beautiful book, also written by an author who really knows his subject. Chris Baines created the very first wildlife garden at the Chelsea Flower Show in 1985, and has been president of the Wildlife Trusts for 30 years. I’d love to get this one for Christmas!

The City Grower by Matt Franks

This would be a great garden gift for anyone who says they’d like to grow food, but don’t have the space. It won the Alan Titchmarsh New Talent Award.

Matt Franks, the author, plans, builds and maintains edible gardens across London. He runs Connected Roots, an urban food growing social enterprise. He works with companies (such as Google) and individuals to grow food in city environments. This book is another on my Christmas list.

The Book of Pears – the definitive history and guide to over 500 varieties

When this – the winner of the Reference Book of the Year – was announced, there was a ripple of approval around my table. Reviews describe it as one of the best books on fruit and fruit growing ever. It has, I understand, won other awards.

As the Garden Media Guild judges said ‘pears so often play second fiddle to apples.’ No longer. Although if you really love someone, you could buy them the accompanying reference book on apples, too.

Magazine subscriptions make fascinating gifts too

Magazine subscriptions make great garden gifts because they arrive every month. I have always been a magazine fan. You don’t have to recharge their batteries, and you can read magazines in the bath (just about!).

Garden gifts for Christmas

So here are my favourites from the Garden Media Guild’s award-winning magazines. Although all the magazine finalists would make great garden gifts.

Gardener’s World: This won the Magazine of the Year Award, and there are some good gift subscription offers available. Hugely informative and very authoritative. You can’t go far wrong with Gardener’s World.

The English Garden – one of the short-listed finalists. The English Garden is a lovely magazine. Interestingly, it offers a cheaper digital-only subscription for those who prefer reading on their tablets and smartphones.

Gardens Illustrated. Another short-listed finalist. Very much the Vogue and World of Interiors of the gardening world, and more international than the other two. It’s gorgeous and aspirational. Get it and weep over your own middle-sized plot.

The gift of learning…

There is quite literally nothing more fascinating than learning from an expert. Courses and workshops are so exciting – the best garden gifts of all, in my view.

My Garden School won the GMG Website of the Year. It’s an online gardening school and the courses are taught by best-selling authors and well-known experts. Noel Kingsbury, Paula Pryke and Piet Oudolf are just a few of the famous names.

The award-winning My Online Garden school website

The award-winning My Online Garden school website

You learn via videos and downloads. And you get practical assignments and a ‘community’ where you can learn from how each other’s assignments are assessed.

Prices are more expensive than books and magazines – most courses are between £100-£200, but there are offers and gift tokens.

A year’s worth of fascinating garden visits

The Royal Horticultural Society (RHS) featured in a number of the award categories, including Radio Broadcast of the Year for their exclusive members’ podcast by Lucy Dichmont and Alex Feldmon.

RHS Hyde Hall. Membership of the RHS is one of the best garden gifts.

RHS membership gives you free entry to RHS gardens, such as Hyde Hall in Essex.

A year’s gift membership costs £57 and gets the recipient and a partner free entry to RHS gardens, access to the RHS advice services and priority booking for RHS shows. It also comes with 6 postcards, 2 packets of free seeds, and vouchers for a gift bag and £5 to spend at the RHS Gardens. And those award-winning exclusive members’ podcasts, too.

What would Christmas be without a calendar?

The GMG Awards also support two gardening charities. One is Greenfingers, which creates magical gardens for children in hospices.

The other is Perennial, which supports those who work in horticulture. It helps those who have financial, health or other difficulties.

Help Perennial to help them by buying this year’s garden calendar as a garden gift. It has photos by garden photographers, Marcus Harpur, Ben Charles, Jonathan Ward, Clive Nichols and, er, me. Not that I could call myself a ‘garden photographer’, but I was thrilled that Perennial chose one of my Middlesized Garden photos for ‘October’. It is really encouraging, and I hope to improve my photography by going on courses next year.

That’s a hint to Mr Middlesize, if any of you see him. (He doesn’t read the blog).

Perennial also have an online shop selling other garden gifts, cards and stationery.

This is only a selection of the GMG Award winners. You can find the rest online here.

So what would you like for Christmas? Apart from world peace, of course…let me know in the comments below or on Twitter (@midsizegarden) or The Middlesized Garden’s Facebook page.

4 comments on "10 fascinating garden gifts we’d all love to get"

  1. Andy says:

    Oh and for Xmas please – always more white plant labels or terracotta pots. Thanks.

    1. Oh, yes, plant labels definitely. I am currently soaking last year’s in Vanish, and plan to scrub them, although that may a time-waster too far! And terracotta pots would be nice, especially small old ones. I bought a job lot of small Victorian terracotta pots once, and I think I’ve only got one left.

  2. Andy says:

    You can hear Dr. Joan Morgan on BBC Radio Kent’s Sunday Gardening here http://www.bbc.co.uk/programmes/p04gvxkc 35 minutes in….

  3. No family holiday is complete without a visit “to a garden” – so this year I’m adding an RHS gift membership to my wish list.

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