It’s a tricky time of year to get presents for a gardener: most shops aren’t stocking garden kit until spring, bulbs – apart from hyacinths and amaryllis (which are lovely) – aren’t really a runner, and most outdoor plants aren’t looking their best, with a few exceptions.
But there are in fact lots of things to give a lucky gardener, even if he or she might have to wait a bit to use them.
I’ve given three options for seed collections, because they will last until you need them and hold the promise of joy next year. Besides, in box or tin, they're nice and easy to wrap.
One warning…avoid anything with calendula, because they’ll take over your garden.
Shop our favourite gifts for gardeners below.
Christmas Carol. Helleborus Niger, Christmas Rose
Is it possible to get anything more fabulous and more Christmassy than a hellebore with this name? It’s a lovely flower with big, white open blooms, and it comes into flower between December and March. Best in partial shade.
Buy now £16.09, Crocus
RHS Plants Set of three mini glass cloches
These are very useful little glass domes, which you can put over seedlings and early shoots to protect them from frost and slugs. They’re hand blown and look very classy. There’s also an open-topped large version, which looks terrific too.
Buy now £37.99, Crocus
Piccolo Herbes de Provence seed mix
This is a tasteful looking seed collection, packaged to look like little books in a set. It contains seeds for Provencal thyme, Greek Oregano and Summer Savory. There’s no definitive version of ‘herbes de provence’ but these are a good basis.
Buy now £12.00, Heals
Sanctuary Coconut Skin Cream
Even if you usually wear gardening gloves, there will be times when you have to expose your hands to the elements, and this heavenly cream (good for body too) with a lovely scent of coconut will keep them in good nick. It’s handmade by Benedictine monks in Surrey.
Buy now £7.50, St Augustine’s Abbey
Burgon & Ball Paper Pot maker
Normally, I try to grow seedlings in loo roll tubes (good for sweet pea) but this little device allows you to run up small pots from newspaper…your Evening Standard can have a useful after-life. Obviously way better than plastic and can be planted directly in the soil.
Buy now £18.76, Amazon
Niwaki Hori-Hori Japanese Trowel
This is such a cool bit of kit; a sharp Japanese trowel with a pointed tip that is terrific for bulbs and weeding. It comes with a canvas holster for added swank. Bear in mind that though strong, it is not indestructible. Use it with an in-out action rather than yanking heavy soil upwards.
These things are sharp, and need sharpening, ideally with a Niwaki sharpening stone.
Buy now £32.00, Niwaki
David Austin Roses Potted Thomas a Becket rose
I’ll tell you why this is such a good rose for a Christmas present - although it’s obviously not going to be in flower just now. The fragrant roses, when they bloom, are a striking scarlet, and it’s named after St Thomas a Becket whose feast day is on December 29. You can get a bare root version cheaper, but for a present, it’s safer to get it potted.
Buy now £27.00, David Austin Roses
Burgon & Ball Gooseberry Kneelo
This is nice big and comfortable garden kneeler that made from memory foam. In this bright neon green colour, it’s easy to spot in fading light. A decent kneeler makes all the difference to your comfort as you weed.
Buy now £17.95, Amazon
Sarah Raven Cosmos seed tin collection
This set contains four packets of Cosmos seeds; two white, two dark red and including the star turns, Purity and Dazzler, attractively packaged in a tin. Cosmos are terrific for pretty well any garden. They’re easy to grow and produce lots of flowers for weeks and weeks. There’s also rather a useful card with a packet of seeds on the inside and a picture of the flower on the front.
There are other collections in this range.
Buy now £13.95, Sarah Raven
The Complete Gardener by Monty Don
Gardening has its fashions and this terrific guide to pretty much every aspect of horticulture is particularly focused on our current interest in gardening for wildlife and sustainability. Good too on vegetables. Ideal, I’d say, for beginners but there’s something for everyone.
Buy now £27.00, Amazon
Burgon & Ball Seedling Widger
The most brilliant stocking filler, it’s a tool for helping you transfer delicate seedlings from the growing tray to a pot or soil. Terrifically useful.
Buy now £3.99, Burgon & Ball
Thoughtful Gardening by Robin Lane Fox
This selection from Robin Lane Fox’s garden columns in the Financial Times is utterly pleasurable: opinionated, urbane, occasionally acerbic, and wholly personal. The author is a classical historian cum gardener, or possibly the other way round.
Buy now £10.89, Amazon