I TRY to keep abreast of the latest products aimed at those who enjoy plants and gardens. As a result, I am inundated with marketing suggestions under the heading “Gifts for gardeners”. It is a wide field, spanning sexy gnomes, red-flowered plants, and an array of LED lights. Here, I list my favourite ideas for Christmas gifts for the gardener(s) in your life.
The Niwaki catalogue is a visual delight, and leafing through one might worry that their Japanese tools and accessories are a victory of style over substance. But even their basic garden snips (£12) are well constructed and fine-pointed enough to make dead-heading delicate flower stems a breeze.
Felco secateurs have tended to be the brand favoured by professional horticulturists, but Niwaki are steadily making inroads. Their Okatsune standard secateurs (£42) have red-and-white handles that make them hard to misplace. Niwaki GR secateurs (£69), with yellow handles, are even stronger: each handle and blade is forged from a single piece of high-quality steel. The dagger-like hori-hori (£24) has a carbon-steel blade that runs right into the handle, making it a robust bulb-planter.
Gardening demands a range of activity from brutish to delicate. My recommendation for a good all-round pair of gloves would be Showa Floreo 370 (from about £5). They are lightweight, come in a range of colours and sizes, and are machine washable.
While on gardening wear, I can recommend trousers by Genus. I lived in their shorts (£89) over the summer. Not only is the stretch cotton fabric very comfortable, the reinforced stab-resistant pocket for secateurs or a knife has meant no more holes in pockets or lost tools.
I have mentioned Backdoor shoes (from £26.95) before: soft slip-on plastic clogs ideal for a dash to the compost bin or just pottering. They have expanded their range of designs that spans plain to quirky.
The Royal Horticultural Society has recently published a beautifully illustrated guide to botanical Latin. The Gardener’s Botanical, by Dr Ross Bayton (£30, on offer at £24 at the time of going to press), has a dictionary format and begins with four essays covering the history of botanical Latin and illustration respectively, the modern science of botany and practical uses of botanical Latin.
It might be useful reference for anyone delving into the more light-hearted Gardener’s Quiz and Puzzle Book (£14.99), another new RHS offering by Simon Akeroyd and Dr Gareth Moore. It contains more than 100 lavishly illustrated puzzles and quizzes.
Finally, there is still time to take out a subscription for young gardeners to Mud & Bloom (from £35.85 for 3 months): they will receive the January box before Christmas. It will contain a kit for growing snapdragons and cauliflowers, pebble-painting, and making an ice lantern.