The very best garden gifts for under £25 – or make your own!
If your friends or family love gardening, garden-y Christmas presents are perfect because things wear out (gloves, etc) or get lost (tools etc). But nothing’s worse than gifts that don’t work – like those decorative tool sets that bend almost immediately or ornamental watering cans that don’t pour properly. So I’ve asked the experts in the gardening world what they’d like to give or get, with a budget limit of £25. The result is an inspiring, value-for-money, thoughtful gift list – personally, I’d be happy to get every single one.
Tools are always useful….
Even treasured gardening tools can get lost, so a well-made, practical tool is always a welcome addition to any garden. (Badly-made cutesy hand trowels and forks which bend and break are not).
Andy McIndoe of the online gardening school My Garden School recommends a Burgon & Ball Hand shrub rake (£9.95) – ‘it’s brilliant for clearing away under plants, spreading mulch under shrubs and clearing dead foliage – I use it all the time. And I think any gardener would love a roll of Flexi-Tie in their stocking – it’s a strong and flexible tie, which stretches as the plant grows so it doesn’t damage it. You can use it to tie everything from roses and shrubs to small trees.’ Around £15.
Garden designer Fern Alder, founder of community garden initiative Full Frontal Gardens, and 2015 ‘RHS Chelsea’ award-winner: ‘I use my Kirpi for everything. It’s a multi-purpose tool made in India – it’s quite rough and ready but brilliant’. (£18.95 from The Organic Catalogue). It can hoe, cut through stems and lever out weeds. Every purchase will benefit an organic growing trust in India.
Harriet Rycroft, container planting specialist and garden blogger: ‘I have a “Herbaceous Sickle” from Niwaki, which would be a great present for people with big fat herbaceous borders – it makes short work of quite tough clumps of stems, much quicker than secateurs or shears because one hand cuts as the other gathers. http://www.niwaki.com/store/herbaceous-sickle/
Vintage tools make a good present. Many are strong and nicely designed, and you can often pick them up cheaply at car boot fairs or on eBay. Faversham, where I live, has regular Christmas markets (December 13th and 20th) and there is a second-hand tool shop down on the Harbour. (And there’s free parking in the town car parks for these markets)
And well-made things can be both decorative and practical: Daily Telegraph garden writer Francine Raymond has a great eye for delightful finds. She also runs her own Christmas gift market. She suggests something decorative from Cranbrook Iron who work in steel and corten iron. Their stakes start at around £6. Cranbrook Iron will be at Francine’s Christmas Shopping Day in Whitstable on Sunday December 6th, along with lots of other lovely makers.
Really good gardening kit…..
Sarah Langton Lockton, gardening editor of The Lady, says: ‘Being cold, wet and miserable are the greatest deterrents to enjoying gardening in winter, so I’d like to give friends (or receive) some of the new warming items from Genus, the makers of high-performance gardening clothes. These include silk glove liners fine enough to insert in the closest-fitting gloves, and gardening socks which wick moisture, dry quickly, have ergonomically designed left and right feet and an elasticated arch support to stop them slipping down the gumboots.’ The glove liners cost £15 and the socks, in men and women’s sizes, are £10 a pair.
Award winning garden photographer Marianne Majerus: I think my gardening friends would really appreciate a nice pair of leather gardening gloves, and I’m also planning to give some friends a copy of my new book, Garden Design (Mitchell Beazley, 2015) which I hope will inspire them in the garden in the year ahead. The book is currently at a bargain price of £9.99 on The Book People (usually £30)
Another book I can really recommend for garden-lovers is The Crafted Garden by Louise Curley (I reviewed it here when using it for autumn decorations – I can’t wait to try out the winter ones). It’s about using everything in your garden (all year round) for decorating. Perhaps you might buy it for yourself as an early Christmas present…
Vintage and hand-made gardening gifts
‘If you are a container planting addict like me, says Harriet(she teaches an online ‘container gardening course’ for My Garden School – see here) you can’t have too many watering cans. I like metal ones best, the old ones tend to be nicely balanced but vary hugely in price, depending on where you buy them, but modern aluminium ones are fine too. I prefer metal not just for the looks but because they tend to stand better under the tap of the water butt, without falling over, as plastic ones often do, and they can stand around full in various bits of the garden or yard without looking tacky. The biggest problem with them is that they are really difficult to wrap!’
Hand made presents:
Handcream is a stalwart amongst gardening presents, and most of us dread getting those tubes of cream that make our hands slithery for 30 minutes and then seem to have no effect. But Posy Gentles make a gardener’s hand cream, which is used by professional gardeners, such as Lucy Adams, the head gardener at Doddington Place Gardens. (Russell, who also works at Doddington Place, finds it the most effective cream for his shrapnel scars – he was injured when serving in the Army). For Christmas Posy thinks that you could also add some flakes of gold leaf for a pretty effect. ‘It really is an effective hand cream – much better than many I’ve bought,’ she says.
4 spoons sweet almond oil
4 spoons coconut oil
3 spoons beeswax
6 spoons glycerine
frankincense essential oil
Melt almond oil, coconut oil and beeswax in basin over pan of hot water. Stir to blend. When all melted, add glycerine drop by drop whisking in. take off heat and stir until creamy. Add essential oil and pot (see below).
And – finally – the alternative to the poinsettia…
After years in the doldrums ‘house plants’ are coming back – according to all the sales figures. And whether someone is a gardener or not, a flowering plant at Christmas is usually a welcome and cheering present. Michael Perry, ‘plant-hunter’ for Thompson & Morgan and well-known on Twitter as Gardening Greek, says that poinsettias have fallen out of favour, dropping out of Thompson & Morgan’s top 10 Christmas house plants. Phew. As T&M is Britain’s biggest online plant retailer, I feel reassured by this. I have never really liked poinsettias. Whereas T&M’s Christmas number 1 is – and has always been – Hyacinth Pink Pearl. Certainly hyacinths would always be a welcome present. But if you want to be different he also recommends T&M’s new three-coloured Christmas Cactus.
Orchids have become another favourite plant present – they’re suited to the climate condition of modern sitting rooms, they hardly need any water and they flower for months. The mass-produced ones available in supermarkets have perhaps become ‘the new poinsettia’ in terms of an all-purpose plant present. But orchids are very beautiful flowers, so it’s worth looking at some of the more unusual varieties (although they will probably bust the £25 mark…). Amicia de Moubray of Doddington Place Gardens has interviewed one of Britain’s most established orchid growers here – worth a read to re-discover that orchids can still be absolutely stunning, especially as presents.
Posy has another good idea for plants as presents – she buys bowls at car boot fairs and fills them with hyacinths from the market. You could buy hyacinths from Thompson & Morgan from £5.99 for 8 to pot up in the New Year, or go to your local nursery, market or garden centre to get them ready for Christmas.
Do let me know your money-saving gift ideas, and if you’ve found this helpful, I’d be really grateful if you could share it using the buttons below. Thank you!