Hoe! Hoe! Hoe!
by Flo Whitaker
What to give a gardening friend for Christmas? The ubiquitous pot plant is all very well, but a few well-chosen gardening essentials are sure to find favour.
It seems such a good idea to buy a gardener a plant for Christmas, doesn’t it? “He/she loves gardening – let’s get a plant!” goes the thinking. However, many gardeners secretly smile through gritted teeth as they’re presented with the perfect gift. A plant you consider to be utterly beautiful they might regard as hideous, or they simply may not have the space or conditions to grow it successfully. That well-meaning present may languish, unloved – as the recipient doesn’t have the heart to throw it out or pass it on to another unsuspecting soul. This year, instead of a plant, why not make your horticultural friend a Christmas stocking instead. If you stick to a good assortment of really practical gifts, you won’t go far wrong.
A Gardeners Christmas Stocking is a variation on the traditional idea. The contents can be upscaled or downsized, depending on your budget, but modest items often work best and bring the most pleasure. Individually wrap each gift and place them in a suitably-themed gardening container; a basket, trug or terracotta pot, perhaps. On Christmas morning, a bright red watering can stuffed with presents looks fabulous under the tree!
Good quality hand wash, hand cream or a lip salve are usually well-received, as are packets of seeds of their favourite flowers and vegetables. Gardening gloves will always be welcome and you can never have too many plant labels or balls of string – they come in all sorts of funky colours nowadays. A pocket pen knife is useful – (for safety’s sake, make sure you buy one that locks the blade in the open position.) A widger is a brilliant little hand tool used for transplanting seedlings and only costs a couple of pounds.
Outdoor/camping shops sell thermal boot socks and hand/pocket warmers for those really chilly gardening days. Cookshops and hardware stores stock all manner of things that may not have been originally intended for horticultural use but, nevertheless, are really useful in the garden. Allotment gardeners will appreciate a thermal flask or lidded mug for taking a hot drink down to the plot. Stackable plastic containers with airtight snap-shut lids are great for storing items that require protection from damp, such as seeds, vermiculite and granular plant foods. Long wooden barbecue skewers make handy supports for young climbing plants. A small stiff – bristled brush quickly removes soil from spades and forks. Spray-on machine oil gives a protective, rustproof coating to shears, secateurs and digging tools. Pocket-sized wire snips are useful for cutting chicken mesh and no gardening kit is complete without a couple of pairs of kitchen scissors, preferably ones with lurid pink or orange handles – easy to locate when accidently thrown onto the compost heap!