This is the time of year when we see lists and ads everywhere in newspapers and magazine of Christmas gift suggestions for various types of people. Gardeners aren't often mentioned yet many of us would secretly like to receive something related to our passion rather than another pair of socks or a soap. Here are some of my suggestions!
1. A good garden tool. High-quality secateurs are worth the money. If its parts can be replaced then it is worth paying the initial extra cost. Good secateurs can be sharpened (through some nurseries, for example) and should be looked after: clean and oil them regularly and don't leave them lying around in the yard (as I confess I often do). Another excellent tool is a metal trowel cast in one piece (pictured above). I have broken so many trowels over the years: this one appears indestructible.
2. A metal watering can. Plastic watering cans are hardly aesthetically pleasing, and they eventually become brittle and break. Vintage metal watering cans add nostalgic charm to the garden. It is possible to buy new metal ones if you can't find an old one.
3. A subscription to the Foundation & Friends of the Royal Botanic Garden. As well as supporting this very worthwhile organisation, there are many benefits. Recipients will receive a quarterly magazine telling them what is going on the NSW Botanic Garden, with lots of opportunities to attend talks, outings and even overseas trips. There is also the chance to become a volunteer in the Gardens, and discounts apply on plants purchased from the Friends' nurseries and entry to events!
4. Bags of cow manure. I know I am not alone in being excited about the prospect of being given a few bags of cow manure as a gift. True gardeners know that this will improve their soil by increasing the organic matter, and make their plants grow much better.
5. Good-quality gardening gloves. Whilst I often make do with rubber washing-up gloves for gardening, it is far better to wear something that can breathe and which will be durable. Long-sleeved gloves are excellent for pruning roses and other scratchy plants; another gift idea.
6. A compost aerator. This nifty gadget is useful for turning composting material in covered domes, where it is not easy to get a spade in. It is rather like a giant corkscrew, which is wound into the compost then pulled up, introducing air and mixing the components. This hastens decomposition.
7. A gardening book. My absolute favourite day of the year is Boxing Day, where I like nothing more than to curl up on the couch with a new gardening book, a plate of leftovers at my side. We can learn so much by reading about other gardens and gardeners. The recently released book about Wendy Whiteley's Secret Garden could be a great gift for a Sydneysider interested in gardening. Not only does it tell us all about one of Sydney's hidden gems, it covers some of the history of our harbour city and the story of one of our most well-known artists, Brett Whiteley. The book - along with many other gardening titles - is available from here.
8. Gardening clothes. It is possible to buy stylish bespoke gardening clothes from some online sources. I'd rather like a shirt emblazoned with the logo 'Head Gardener' one day. Meanwhile, I make do with shabby old business shirts and cotton trousers!
9. A good hat for gardening. Protecting our skin from the sun is vital whilst gardening. A good hat that filters out all or most of the sun's rays, stays on the head during gardening exertions, and looks OK, could be a welcome gift.
10. Flowers. Whilst it may seem like 'coals to Newcastle' to give a gardener flowers, one of my nicest gifts last Christmas was a beautiful floral arrangement in red, white and green, delivered to me on Christmas Eve.
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This intriguing epiphytic plant is in bloom now.
Ageing and gardening
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As one gets older, there is the need to rethink aspects of one's garden.
Painting with coleus
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Coleus can make wonderful pictures in the garden.
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Tough and undemanding plants from my parents' garden are favourites in my own.
The value of green spaces
26 Sep 21
Earlier this year, I visited Callan Park in Sydney's inner west.