The year’s best books, containers and kids’ novelties
There are a lot of new gardeners out there compared to last year – but what to buy them for Christmas or winter birthdays? Plants aren’t always the best option at this time of year, so I’ve curated the best present ideas around, either in the shops or online.
Seedball Christmas Collection, £19.95, Annabel James
A gift-boxed set of three British-made Seedball Tins. Contains:
- Bee Merry – native bee-friendly wildflowers recommended by the Bumblebee Conservation Trust.
- Wonderland – wildflower seeds for shadier gardens and balconies.
- Let it Snow – native white flowers.
Easy to sow, the seeds are encased in clay, compost and chili, containing nutrients. The chili powder deters slugs and snails while the seed ball slowly degrades as the seeds sprout. Just scatter on top of the soil and nature will do the rest.
Buy them online from www.annabeljames.co.uk.
You Can Grow Your Own Food Book, by Annabelle Padwick, £7.99, signed £8.50
Annabelle Padwick, founder of Life at No. 27, has combined her horticultural, teaching and writing skills to create this great gardening book for children (and adult beginners).
Part of the new You Can series from Collins, You Can Grow Your Own Food is packed with fun gardening projects and tips on how to grow fruit, vegetables and herbs outside and indoors.
Annabelle said: “If you are an adult and want a really simple guide on how to grow your own food with some added colouring in and play, then this book is perfect for you too.”
Get it at good bookshops, Amazon or signed by Annabelle from www.lifeatno27.com.
Caterpillar Greenhouse Kit, £11; Little Gardeners Mini Greenhouse, £12; Little Gardeners Range, from £3, Johnsons
The Caterpillar Greenhouse Kit includes everything children need to learn how to sow seeds and look after them as they grow. Each kit contains:
- A re-usable caterpillar-shaped propagator tray and lid
- Basil, pepper (sweet) and tomato seeds
- An instruction leaflet, growing tips and a pizza recipe
- Mess-free expandable compost pellets
- Wooden labels.
The Little Gardeners range includes:
- Flower and vegetable starter kits, £4
- Mini cress garden, £4
- Flower mixes, £3
- Grow pots for strawberries and mini sunflowers, £4.50
- The mini greenhouse includes seeds, a large compost disc and a handy widget and dibber tool.
Available from garden centres, supermarkets and DIY stores and online at www.johnsons-seeds.com.
No Dig Gardening – From Weeds to Vegetables Easily and Quickly Book, £22.50; Vegetable Garden 2021 Calendar, £10, by Charles Dowding
A great book for beginners, it concentrates on the time saving and productive method of no dig gardening – but what is it? It involves mulching soil with compost, rather than laboriously digging it and letting nature do the rest. Read the full review of Charles Dowding’s book here.
The glossy illustrated calendar has photos from Charles’s garden and handy vegetable growing tips and sowing dates.
Available from good book stores and online from www.charlesdowding.co.uk.
Caledonian Raised Beds, from £39.99, Forest Garden
Ideal for small gardens, these sturdy but reasonably priced raised beds are ideal for first forays into vegetable growing (see full review here). Try the Compact 90 x 90cm, £39.99; Long 45 x 180cm, £44.99; Large 90 x 180cm, £59.99.
Available from garden centres and high street stores. For stockist information visit www.forestgarden.co.uk.
Larry Llama Planter Set, £19, Red Candy
This porcelain llama comes with chia seeds so he ends up with his own green coat! Dimensions: height 17cm x width 21cm x depth 9cm.
Buy online from www.redcandy.co.uk.
V&A Fork & Trowel Set, £16.99, Dobbies
This stylish fork and trowel set with a V&A Museum-approved pattern will make sure it doesn’t get lost and thrown out with your gardening rubbish.
Available online at www.dobbies.com or at Dobbies Garden Centres.
Sunflower Bar, £12, Growbar
Including Vanilla Ice, Sun Gold and Red Sun varieties, this looks like a large chocolate bar but isn’t! Start by unwrapping your Growbar and place it with the brown protective paper facing upwards, into a container with plenty of space to allow it to expand. There are many different themes to try, including Roman Herbs.
Buy them from major stores – check www.growbar.co.uk for stockists.
Grass Hair Grow Kits, £3.95, Mr Fothergill’s
These collectable and reusable Grass Hair Grow Kits have four new themes – Adopt a Kitten, Adopt a Puppy, Ocean Animals and Friendly Bugs.
They can be sown at any time of the year, with each kit containing a ceramic pot, soil pellet, sachet of grass seed, and instructions. Simply sow, water and place in a sunny position. When all the seed is gone, add your own or use them as egg cups!
Available to buy at retailers and garden centres as well as online at www.mr.fothergills.co.uk.