When we opened an online shop to help with the costs of running our blog, we wanted to stock it with great gardening gifts. But what would these be? Quality garden tools (me, obvs), books, cards and pretty kitchenware, (Elaine), edible birthday cards for dogs (Caroline ?).
This week we’re explaining why we thought our respective choices for the shop were a good idea (the images are clickable if you know what I mean.)
1.Garden tools. Ever practical, I like a present that’s useful, especially if it’s one that solves a problem (ergo I was once delighted with a birthday present of a sack trolley to move my pots around, and save my poor back). To make sure we are thoroughly researching the market to get the best products, we attend the main horticultural trade fair, GLEE, at Birmingham’s NEC each year. It’s hard work though, as whilst I am chatting to the owners of firms producing serious high-end garden tools, Caroline will be larking around on the novelty stands.
At the show I sought out garden tools that are not generally stocked in the run-of-the-mill garden centre, but have been designed to make regular gardening jobs much easier. I’m quite proud that my choices the razor hoe and container knife (both made by the peerless Burgon and Ball) have been two of our best sellers.
2. Family heirlooms. There’s nothing nicer than handling a pre-loved garden tool/trug/watering can, even better if it was your grandad’s. So I love the idea of giving presents that will become much-loved family heirlooms, passed down generations to come, and insisted we stocked some the beautifully-crafted Sophie Conran range such as the compost scoop and hand rake. The National Trust range of dibbers and pocket knives fall into this bracket too.
That’s all very well Laura, but Christmas comes in the middle of winter when gardening tools aren’t likely to be in use for a couple of months so my suggestions take that into consideration.
3. Gardening books and cards. There are loads of good books on the market this year, for instance ‘The Grove’ by Ben Dark and ‘Grasping the Nettle’ by Tamsin Westhorpe. But don’t forget that we publish a small beautifully-produced book called ‘A Plant for Each Week of the Year’, featuring 52 of Louise Sims’ wonderful ‘Plant of the Month’ profiles and spanning a year of fab plants. The photography is gorgeous and the description is so clear and personal that you have no doubt that she REALLY knows and grows that particular plant. Word is obviously getting out there about what a great gift this is, as we’re on our fourth reprint!
When we were all Locked Down in 2020, there was a huge explosion in the number of people turning to gardening, particularly food-growing. In response to this, we produced a daily blog for a fortnight aimed at encouraging novices in veg-growing to have a go. The response was terrific, including local radio, press etc.
By March 2021, we’d turned these articles into a jolly little spiral-bound book ‘Beginner’s Veg…easier to grow than you think’ with a foreword written by Fern Britton. It would surely make the perfect stocking-filler for anyone who wants to start growing their own food.
And what comes after Christmas? Thank you cards! In fact, these are so essential they qualify for Laura’s ‘must be useful’ gift criteria. Artist Lyn Sweetman painted some beautiful designs for us and you can’t get them anywhere else. Honestly, you might decide to frame them rather than put them in someone’s stocking or give them away……
4. Kitchenware. Many gardeners are also good cooks, keen to make the most of their home-grown produce. I’m the exception (all right, you don’t all have to shout ‘you’re telling me!’) but I’m good at washing up. And on a trip to Wells in Somerset, my husband and I totally fell in love with the vibrant colours on the DollyHotDogs stand in the market. Tea-towels, oven-gloves, chopping-boards – all made of lovely materials with simply fabulous designs on them. We HAD to put some in our 3Growbags shop!
Despite Laura’s condescension, (and passing over the fact that it’s only my dogged determination that navigated the old dears through processes like PayPal, Stripe etc.) it was actually my idea to stock what is a taste of the future of gardening. And no, I am not referring now to edible doggy birthday cards (still love them though).
5. Houseplant kit. Houseplants have enjoyed a monster surge of interest in the last couple of years. And winter is the time you really appreciate a houseplant or two on the kitchen dresser. Every good garden centre will have a range of plants, so what you can do is supply some nice pots and tools (and maybe a voucher to go and buy the plants?) to give someone the motivation to get something growing indoors. Laura had a bash at pre-planting some of our little Liberté pots to give as fully-formed pot plants – there’s a link to the video at the end of the blog. Team these pots with some gorgeous little houseplant tools and your plant-mad best friend will love you forever.
6. Sustainability products. We know we have to address the impact that plastic has on the environment but it can be a job to find alternatives. We jumped at the chance to stock bamboo plant labels and paper-pot making kits (insanely satisfying) and I’ll admit to being obsessed with the new generation of recycled floppy plant pots.
I use them for my tomato pots (in October I empty them, fold them flat and pop on a shelf – no space required), and loved the colour and feel of these green Haxnicks Vigoroots ones (yep, in our shop). Endorsed by Pippa Greenwood, and trialled comprehensively by Pumpkin Beth (there’s a link to her report at the end) the root air-pruning effect of the special fabric leads to a better root system and higher yields than plastic pots. If you’re posting presents to a gardener – send a pack of these. They’re brilliant and weigh next to nothing!
The way forward – floppy foldable, recycled plant pots..
7. Scented candles OK, so my final choice of the scented candles are a bit of an indulgence, but don’t we and our gardening friends deserve a bit of R&R at the end of a long day, by putting our feet up with the delicate scent of orange and cinnamon of Figgy Pudding wafting around our G&T?
Here is the link to the video of Laura planting up her Liberté pots.
Read about Pumpkin Beths experience trialing the Haxnick’s Vigoroots Planters.
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