• Maureen Little

Dare I mention THE word?

Please Note: This post is not sponsored.

November. I think it is ok to mention THE word – Christmas.

I thought for this post I would have a look at some garden bits and pieces that would make good presents. Well, I would like them, anyway. In fact, some of the items I’m looking at I already own and am so happy with them I thought I would share them with you.

So here are a few ideas, in no particular order.

First up isn't actually a present. I came across these lovely Christmas cards and couldn't resist them. They are by Stephen Lennon at Umbellifer who produces beautiful botanical artwork from his studio in Yorkshire. He is donating a percentage of the profit from sales of the Christmas cards to Perennial, the charity which helps people in horticulture. You can buy the cards individually at £2 each or a pack of 6 for £7. Click here to go to Stephen's website, and here to find out more about Perennial.

Second– and this is a pretty special one – is a trug basket. But not any old trug basket. The one (or rather ones) I own come from The Truggery in Herstmonceux in Sussex - my home county, and the undisputed home of the trug - where they have been making them since 1899.

Trugs were traditionally used by market gardeners and farmers for harvesting and measuring livestock feed. In fact, the largest trug in the picture is a half-bushel, equivalent to a capacity of 4 gallons, which would have been used to measure out grain. Nowadays you will see smaller ones being used in a garden rather than in a commercial setting.

If you really don’t know what to get your gardening loved-one for Christmas, I can almost guarantee that a Sussex trug will be the perfect gift. From £35.00.

Click here to go The Truggery’s website.

If you’re looking for a stocking-filler for a gardening fanatic, how about - don’t laugh - a ball or two of good old-fashioned string?

I used to own a modest plant nursery with a shop selling various items of garden paraphernalia and in the run-up to Christmas one of my best-sellers was string. I kid you not. If you do buy some, why not be adventurous and go for something other than natural or green – how about purple or orange? From £2.30. Click here to go to Nutscene’s website – they have an extensive range.

Also in the stocking-filler price bracket (£8.95) is this lovely calendar from Emma Bridgewater. With gardening illustrations, mottos and sayings, this would make a timely gift for you or the gardener in your life: I have to admit, I’ve already bought one for myself. Click here to go to Emma Bridgewater’s website to view the complete range.

I know candles can be much of a muchness, but I do like these from St Eval. They have a lovely garden-y range called Victorian Herb with delightful combinations of fragrances such as bergamot and nettle, thyme and mint and, my favourite, bay and rosemary. They come in ‘flowerpot’ containers, as well as tins and tealights. From £3.25.

Click here to go to St. Eval’s website to view the complete range.

If you like herbs and would like to grow some to use in the kitchen, then my book 30 Herbs for Your Kitchen Garden (£7.99) will give you plenty of information. As well as tips on how to grow your herbs, there are also tried-and-tested recipes – tried by me and tested by the Little Clan!

Click here to go to my Amazon webpage where you will find some more of my books too.

Talking of growing things, are you or a friend an aspiring cut-flower grower but really don’t know where to start? This seed kit - the Really Good Cut Flower Seed Kit - from Sarah Raven may be just the ticket.

The collection includes 13 packets of seeds in a reusable tin, detailed sowing instructions, a month by month sowing and harvesting chart, and a colour planting plan so you know exactly what to plant where. £32.95.

Click here to go to Sarah Raven’s website. (Photography © Jonathan Buckley, used with permission of Sarah Raven.)

As a gardener, you can never have too many pairs of gloves. At the last count I had four pairs for various jobs in the garden ranging from really tough ones for when I’m pruning the roses to lightweight ones for potting on.

When I saw these from the Royal Horticultural Society’s Gold Leaf range, though, I had to have them. They’re comfy, tough and stylish and you can choose from Hampton, with a gold rose, Malvern, with an iris, or Chelsea with a poppy. There are also a number of excellent gloves for men in same range. From £15.00. RHS Gold Leaf Gloves are available from the RHS shop - click here to go to their website.

All gardeners deserve to put their feet up once in a while, especially with a hot chocolate with, it almost goes without saying, cream and marshmallows – and a flake! So why not treat yourself, or your gardening loved-one or friend, to a beautiful china mug to make it just a bit special. I love this one, designed by Emma Sutton at Mosney Mill – there’s something about a cheeky little robin, that quintessential friend in the garden, that just says Christmas to me, although he’s guaranteed to lift your mood whatever the time of year. And at just £12 he’s a bargain. Click here to go to Emma’s website where you will find lots more beautiful fine china and other gifts.

As many of you know I present a couple of radio shows ( ‘A Little Classical Music’ every Sunday afternoon, and 'The Little Garden Show', monthly) on our local radio, Ribble FM*, so obviously I love to listen to a bit of music, even when I’m pottering around in the garden.

I have had a few, shall we say, mishaps with various radios, like inadvertently watering one, and another falling off the shelf in the potting shed. Sadly, both were past redemption. So, my lovely hubby George bought me a ‘Maureen-proof’ one - see photo. It can withstand just about any you throw at it so although it's not cheap (this model £119.98) it will outlive many less expensive radios.

Click here to go to a retailer recommended by the editor of Radio User Magazine.

(*Click here to go to Ribble FM’s website where you can listen live, or listen again.)

Last but by no means least we come to a Christmas tipple. Yes, even gardeners have time off at Christmas!

As many of you know I used to keep bees and as well as selling honey from my own bees in my little shop, I had the pleasure of stocking honey from the British Honey Company. Well, they’ve branched out into producing spirits with honey and when I came across this lovely gift set, I just had to spread the word. It includes six 5cl bottles of Keepr’s honey spirits, from the festive favourite British Sloe & Honey Gin to their signature Classic London Dry with British Honey and makes a great introduction to their range. At just £28, it’s the perfect gift for spirit & honey lovers alike. Click here to go to their website for this and lots more honey and spirit gifts.

If spirits aren’t your tipple there’s no better way to celebrate than with a glass (or two) or Champagne. Well, not Champagne precisely. I can’t call it Champagne because it’s actually from Hampshire (yes, in England) but in my opinion, it is every bit as good (perhaps better) than ‘proper’ Champagne. And I’m not the only one to think it – it got gold in the 2020 International Wine and Spirit Competition and in the 2020 Wine GB Awards. So what is it? It’s Black Chalk Classic 2016. Produced by Jacob Leadley at Black Chalk Winery it’s a combination of the classic Champagne grapes Chardonnay, Pinot Meunier and Pinot Noir. And it’s made in exactly the same way as Champagne too. It’s got sparkling aromas and flavours of green apple with floral notes with a hint of floral honey on the finish, together with traces of brioche and vanilla - yummy.

Why is it called Black Chalk – I’ll let the winery explain: ‘Black Chalk was used by the old masters to sketch ideas onto canvas before painstakingly creating a masterpiece. At Black Chalk Wines, we hand select the very best locally grown grapes before beautifully crafting each wine, they are not rushed but allowed time to age in order to produce English sparkling wine that stands out from the crowd.’

Needless to say, it’s not widely available but you can buy it online from The Wine Shed for £38.95 – click here to go their website.

There we have it – some ideas for Christmas presents that I’m sure any gardener would love.