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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. 

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. 

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.

Dear Readers, I caught up with Pippa Greenwood recently, Pippa has a website where you can purchase vegetable plants, seeds, and other gifts for gardeners.  Pippa offers a service where her customers can order the vegetables they want to grow, the vegetable plants are then grown in Lincolnshire, in the UK, and posted out as garden ready plants in early to mid May, when the vegetable plants can be planted out in your garden, or at your allotment. 

I cherish every special, magical moment when I meet a person with whom I share a deep connection and enjoy a true and meaningful, lasting friendship.  One such fellow, whom I am very fortunate to call a close friend, is the horticulturist, broadcaster, journalist, author, plantsman and nature lover, John Negus.  John is a truly wonderful man, he is an expert gardener and horticulturist; John never fails to inspire me. 

More ideas to use less plastic

In March 2018, I shared some of my ideas of how to reduce plastic use and try live more sustainably.  I love our planet, I want to do all I can to protect our world, this is an important issue for me.  I’d love to help you to find new ways to live sustainably and happily, saving money and having fun along the way!

Wildlife friendly ways to kill slugs and snails

I don’t like slug pellets.  Slug pellets have had a disastrous effect on the wild food chain – as well as killing slugs and snails, slug pellets harm hedgehogs, song thrushes, and other creatures.  Slug pellets kill these dear animals in the most cruel, drawn out, and painful manner.  Nothing could induce me to use slug pellets in my garden, allotment, or anywhere for that matter – however large the slug or snail population had become, and however many of my precious plants had been eaten. 

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!

Garden designer Dr Catherine MacDonald devised the Seedlip Garden as a celebration of the pea – Pisum sativum.  The Seedlip Garden features peas and plants related to peas – plants from the pea plant family – Fabaceae.  This Space to Grow Garden also honours the work of three men and their work in relation to peas.  The first man that the Seedlip Garden commemorates is Gregor Mendel (1822-1824). 

The RHS Chelsea Flower Show 2018

The highlight of the horticultural calendar, The Royal Horticultural Society’s Chelsea Flower Show is the world’s most prestigious flower show!  Over the past three weeks, award winning garden designers from all over the world, together with their teams, made up of some of the best landscape architects, project managers, builders, technicians, horticulturalists, artists and crafts people, have been working solidly to transform the Royal Hospital’s grounds at Chelsea into an oasis of gardening ideas and inspiration!

Why Use Peat Free Compost?

Peatlands are extraordinary environments, which cover just 2-3% of the planet’s surface.  These scarce ecosystems are also very fragile, they are dependent on sufficient moisture levels being available, and they require a slightly cooler temperature range to allow the necessary sphagnum moss, which slowly forms peat, to grow, flourish, and reproduce.  Peat bogs can increase at a rate of one millimetre per year if the desired conditions are present. 

I have found that peat free composts can vary enormously: from bags of compost filled with bark chips, which could be used as a mulch, but can’t be used as intended – as a compost to grow container plants or seedlings, right through to the other extreme – the finest quality composts, which are capable of producing prize and award winning plants, and of course, every compost in between these two polar opposites! 

The Chinese Kitchen Garden: growing techniques and family recipes from a classic cuisine
By Wendy Kiang-Spray
Published by Timber Press
ISBN: 978-1-60469-677-6

If you’re making a list and checking it twice…..of all the interesting and exciting vegetables and crops that you hope to grow next year, then you might be interested to read The Chinese Kitchen Garden, a charming book, written by Wendy Kiang-Spray.

No Dig Organic Home & Garden:
Grow, Cook, Use & Store Your Harvest
By Charles Dowding & Stephanie Hafferty
Published by Permanent Publications
ISBN: 978-1-85623-301-9

I have included the No Dig Organic Home & Garden book by Charles Dowding and Stephanie Hafferty in my recommended 2017 Gifts for Gardeners article, as this is simply a great gardening book, which clearly explains the principles of the organic ‘no dig’ method of gardening.

I used to have a large glasshouse.  I felt so fortunate to be able to enjoy the use of my glasshouse, every day I appreciated the exciting range of crops I could grow inside, and the extended growing season and bountiful harvest that my glasshouse helped to provide me with.  I was so grateful, excited, and so inspired by the vast array of glorious fruit and vegetables that I grew inside the glasshouse. 

Inside the Floral Marquee at the RHS Hampton Court Palace Flower Show 2017, I met Jackie Currie, a passionate Allium expert and Garden Designer from Surrey.  The RHS judges presented Jackie with a Silver-Gilt Medal, for her first ever exhibit at Hampton Court, which featured a selection of Alliums, from Jackie Currie’s National Collection of Alliums.

Beth: Congratulations on your beautiful Allium exhibit and your success here at Hampton Court Jackie!

Jonathan Hogarth of Hogarth Hostas holds a National Collection of Small and Miniature Hostas.  In 2016 Jonathan exhibited his Hosta collection at the RHS Chelsea Flower Show, where the RHS judges presented him with a Silver-Gilt Medal, and at the RHS Hampton Court Palace Flower Show, where Jonathan was presented with a Gold Medal and the Best Plant Heritage Exhibit by the RHS judges.

The Royal Horticultural Society’s Hampton Court Palace Flower Show, supported by Viking Cruises, is the world’s largest annual flower show!  This family orientated Show covers 34 acres of ground, occupying both sides of the Long Water, in the grounds of Hampton Court Palace.

This year Garden Designer Juliet Sargeant has designed the RHS Kitchen Garden, which has been created to showcase a number of innovative methods used to grow edible plants.  

One of the gardens that I was most excited to visit at the RHS Hampton Court Palace Flower Show 2017, was the RHS Kitchen Garden.

The Royal Horticultural Society commissioned Garden Designer Juliet Sargeant to design this special Feature Garden, to demonstrate the many interesting methods that gardeners can use to grow vegetables, fruit, herbs, and flowers.  The RHS Kitchen Garden has been designed to showcase the extensive variety of beautiful, edible plants that are available for us to grow and eat.  

The Chris Evans Taste Garden is one of five Radio 2 Feel Good Gardens created for the RHS Chelsea Flower Show 2017, to celebrate the 50th anniversary of Radio 2.  The Chris Evans Taste Garden has been designed by Jon Wheatley.  Jon has taken inspiration from Mary Berry, in his design for an edible garden, which reflects the most delicious edible plants grown in gardens and allotments across the UK.