*** DEBUG START ***
*** DEBUG END ***

A gift for gardening

30 November 2012

iStock

THE other day, I received two unexpected, though perhaps tongue-in-cheek, compliments on my footwear. I had left the back door en route to the compost heap when I heard it snap shut. There was nothing for it but to walk the mile or so down the road to my friend and spare key-holder.

I was wearing my Shedshoes, a kind of plastic clog, based on those worn by hospital workers, but covered in a photographic image of grass, such that my feet would have disappeared against a summer lawn.

Against a muddy tarmac in November, the lurid green shone out and attracted attention, which I tried to deflect with a rather embarrassed "They're very comfy." I remain loyal to my trusty lightweight, grippy slip-ons that have served me well on so many back-garden errands. I can report that they are supremely comfortable - even after two miles - and might make a fun Christmas present for the gardener in your family. There is quite a range of designs: tulip, tomato, rose, chilli, sunflower, and bluebell, among others.

Transferring attention from feet to hands, wearing gloves can make gardening more enjoyable, and a little safer. In the past, I tended to be in the "I need to feel what I'm doing" camp, but have been converted by a pair of "Joe's" gloves. Joe sells four types, including "The Dexterous One" for weeding and delicate jobs, and my current favourite, "The All Seasons One", which is cosy and yet tough.

When choosing a gift for a gardener, it is tempting to go for a plant. You may even find one with a particularly fitting cultivar name. Use the Royal Horticultural Society online Plant Finder. Entering "Diane" could lead you to the winter-flowering witch hazel Hamamelis x intermedia "Diane"; "Dawn" to a hybrid Viburnum with fantastic winter scen; and "David" to a very fine Rhododendron, for example.

Most plants would not fare well wrapped and under the Christmas tree for long. A National Garden gift voucher is one solution, and is available from, and exchangeable at, many garden centres. Another, with perhaps less keenly felt delayed gratification for the recipient, is to give packets of seeds. I would go for easy perennials that, sown early, will flower in their first year, and then with minimal care will bulk up over the years.

The family-run Chiltern Seeds has provided me with many of the stalwarts of my garden. Achillea millefolium "Summer Pastels Mixed" gave me a huge colour-range that I have gradually whittled down to my favourite ochre and lemon tones over the years. Geum "Lady Stratheden" and "Mrs J. Bradshaw" are both RHS Award of Garden Merit winners, and easy from seed. Polemonium caeruleum "Blue Pearl" has flourished from an early spring sowing, three years ago; its sprays of azure-blue flowers are now a key component of my Marian border each summer.

A packet of seeds may seem a small offering at the time, but my Persian silk tree, Albizia julibrissin, grown from just such a gift ten years ago, is now a beautiful and dramatic presence in my garden.

www.joes-garden.com
www.backdoorshoes.co.uk

www.chilternseeds.co.uk

Forthcoming Events

21 October 2021
Transgressing Theology
From SCM Press: authors Natalie Wigg-Stevenson and Thia Cooper in conversation.

2 November 2021
Green Church Showcase LIVE
Join us online or in Glasgow for the premiere screening of the Green Church Showcase film.

More events

Welcome to the Church Times

​To explore the Church Times website fully, please sign in or subscribe.

Non-subscribers can read four articles for free each month. (You will need to register.)