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Christmas Gifts for Gardeners

In this column I share my favourite gift ideas with you, these are the best products that I have personally tried and tested this year, as part of my quest to help you find quality presents for your loved ones this Christmas!

Vegepod

Vegepod is an award-winning container gardening system that is really quite marvellous!  This raised bed system has universal appeal, you don’t need access to the soil, so if you’re gardening on concrete but ache to grow vegetables, this is for you. 

I enjoyed visiting the Seedlip Garden at the RHS Chelsea Flower Show 2018.  Dr Catherine MacDonald designed this interesting garden as a celebration of the pea plant family – Fabaceae, and to highlight the work carried out by three pea pioneers: Gregor Mendel, Dr Calvin Lamborn, and Ben Branson.  Ben Branson is the founder of Seedlip, a company that produce distilled non-alcoholic spirits. 

For my 2015 trialled and tested list of gifts for gardeners, I recommended a hand-made Trug Makers Trug – Trug No.7 – a large, deep versatile trug, ideal for harvesting large vegetables and fruit.  I am still using my Trug No.7, this versatile trug is just as good now as it was when it arrived with me in 2015.

After he read my 2015 review, Trug Maker Kevin Skinner very kindly offered to send me a trug of my choice, I love growing sweet peas, daffodils, and cut flowers, so the choice was simple – I opted for the Daffodil Trug, the trug that you see pictured below. 

Teaming with Fungi: The organic grower’s guide to mycorrhizae
Author: Jeff Lowenfels
Publisher: Timber Press
ISBN: 978-1-60469-729-2

Through his book Teaming with Fungi, author Jeff Lowenfels, aims to dispel the myths associated with fungi; this book informs and educates readers about fungi and their fascinating relationship with plants.  80-95% of all plants form symbiotic relationships with mycorrhizal fungi.  These relationships are incredibly beneficial to plants, so it makes sense for gardeners, horticulturists, and those working in forestry, agriculture, plant propagation, or indeed any career or hobby based around plants, to learn and understand more about mycorrhizal fungi species and the true nature of their relationship with plants. 

Teaming with Nutrients: The Organic Gardener’s Guide to Optimizing Plant Nutrition
Author: Jeff Lowenfels
Publisher: Timber Press
ISBN: 978-1-60469-314-0

Teaming with Nutrients is the second book in a series of three books written by Jeff Lowenfels, for the publisher Timber Press.  Each book is focused on a different area of plant science; the other books being, Teaming with Microbes (written by Jeff Lowenfels and Wayne Lewis) and Teaming with Fungi

Teaming with Microbes, the Organic Gardener’s Guide to the Soil Food Web  
Authors: Jeff Lowenfels and Wayne Lewis
Publisher: Timber Press
ISBN: 978-1-60469-113-9

In their book, Teaming with Microbes, authors, Jeff Lowenfels and Wayne Lewis, highlight the importance of a healthy soil food web, describing the benefits a fully operational and functioning soil food web has on plants.  Healthy soil is teeming with life! 

Essential Pruning Techniques for Trees, Shrubs, and Conifers
Authors: George E. Brown and Tony Kirkham
Photographs: Andrea Jones
Publisher: Timber Press

ISBN: 978-1-60469-288-4

The first edition of the reference book, Essential Pruning Techniques was written by George E. Brown (1917-1980).  George was the assistant curator at Kew and a founding member of the Arboricultural Association.  The original book was published in 1972; for over forty years this book was the go-to reference for pruning. 

This year, I’ve enjoyed getting to know a couple of new Phalaenopsis hybrids.  These plants were grown in the UK by Double H Nurseries, they’re part of the nurseries’ new range of Phalaenopsis plants, which have all been awarded the Royal Horticultural Society’s Award of Garden Merit.

The Award of Garden Merit was set up by the Royal Horticultural Society, to help gardeners find plants that will perform well in regular growing conditions, without any specialist care or attention. 

Vegepod Raised Garden Beds

I love growing vegetables, it’s a truly wonderful, soul enriching experience to grow your own food!  Sadly an increasing number of us are without the luxury of a garden or allotment and have nowhere to grow vegetables, herbs, fruit, or flowers; while a great many others struggle to garden in small, often paved spaces, without any access to the soil.

The Victoria Garden, Farnham

There’s something quite magical about a secret garden!  Did you know that Farnham has its own secret garden hidden away in the town centre?  If you venture towards the back of Sainsbury’s car park in South Street, you’ll have the chance to discover the Victoria Garden for yourself.  A beautifully serene, sheltered and enclosed garden awaits you, a place where you can escape the hustle and bustle of everyday life. 

I love terrariums and bottle gardens!  I so enjoy designing tiny plant worlds and creating miniature gardens.  This is the ideal time to build a terrarium or bottle garden, these Lilliputian microcosms are fun to make!  Terrariums will enhance your home and provide the perfect gardening therapy through the autumn and winter months.

The photograph above shows some of the ingredients that I use to formulate my own compost mixes for terrariums and bottle gardens. 

I planted this glass terrarium especially for the readers of October 2018 edition of Vantage Point Magazine.  This is a simple glass globe, planted with some attractive, but easy to find terrarium plants.  You can see all of the plants that I used for this terrarium, in the planting list below.  If you’re interested in any of these plants, click on an individual plant page for more information, where you’ll also find links to every article I have written for pumpkinbeth.com that mentions that particular plant. 

For me, deliciously scented flowers are a delightfully uplifting feature of the garden.  A beautiful moment spent enjoying garden flowers and their fragrances is utter bliss!  Time spent with delectably fragrant flowers eases life’s worries and stresses, brings joy to our day and makes everything feel better.  I have a particular fondness for scented daffodils or Narcissus.  Narcissus is the botanical name for this genus, while daffodil is the common name we use, but both names refer to the same group of plants.

I am sorry to say that 2018 was a terrible year for many of the daffodils grown in the UK.  The daffodils that were grown for my 2018 Scented Daffodil Trial experienced snow at the end of March, at a time when many of my trialled daffodil cultivars were grown, some of my daffodils stood poised and ready, just thinking about blossoming and coming into flower. 

Plant Heritage are a plant conservation charity, based in Guildford, that encourage horticulturists, botanists, and gardeners to grow, propagate, share, and conserve a wide range of plants to protect and safeguard the variety of plants we have available to grow and enjoy.  This year, Plant Heritage are celebrating their 40th anniversary, so to mark the occasion they asked garden designer Jackie Currie to create an exhibit for the RHS Chelsea Flower Show 2018, to publicise the value of Plant Heritage’s work.

I love to visit the RHS Chelsea Flower Show, for me this is the most prestigious and exciting event of the horticultural calendar!  I enjoy seeing Chelsea’s show gardens of every size and style, I am always interested to discover the latest gardening products, and I really look forward to finding new favourite plants, whilst being reminded of old favourites.  I so enjoy visiting Chelsea’s Grand Pavilion, which is filled with over one hundred exhibits created by expert growers, from nurseries that seem to specialise in growing almost every kind of plant.

What a joyful month June is!  June’s warm sunshine seems to infuse every fibre of our beings, imbuing our souls with a feeling of uplifting bliss that can only be found outdoors.  June also brings us the gift of sweet summer rain to refresh our plants, and the excitement of a great many wonderful growing opportunities in the garden; it’s hard to beat this time of year!

I have been waiting for this moment for some time now!  I spoke to David Neale in 2015 about his ambition and aspiration to design and build a show garden at the RHS Chelsea Flower Show, so I was really excited when David told me that he would be building a show garden for the 2018 RHS Chelsea Flower Show!  I have now visited David at the Chelsea Flower Show, I am so happy to tell you, that the Silent Pool Gin Garden was awarded a Silver-Gilt Medal by the RHS judges at the RHS Chelsea Flower Show 2018! 

I interviewed Surrey based Garden Designer David Neale, of NealeRichards Garden Design, for the November 2015 edition of Vantage Point Magazine.  During this interview David Neale spoke about his hopes for the future, and his ambition to design and build a garden for the RHS Chelsea Flower Show.  I caught up with David earlier this year, when I was thrilled to discover that David’s dreams have come true! 

I interviewed Surrey based Garden Designer David Neale, of NealeRichards Garden Design, for the November 2015 edition of Vantage Point Magazine.  During this interview David Neale spoke about his hopes for the future, and his ambition to design and build a garden for the RHS Chelsea Flower Show.  I am thrilled to discover that David’s dreams have now come true!