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Gardening gifts for all budgets
7:00am Saturday 24th November 2012 in NewsXtra
Tips on some of the best presents on offer for the green-fingered this Christmas - plus, find out what else needs doing in the garden this week.
By Hannah Stephenson
Under a fiver
:: Cupcake Stakes (Poundland, £1 each, available in stores nationwide. Stockists 0800 731 5622): If the gardener likes quirky ornaments, they can brighten up a container or perk up a border with these colourful cupcake stakes in a variety of colours and styles. Bound to create a talking point among guests.
:: Novelty Kneepad (£4.99, www.gettingpersonal.co.uk): Ideal for green-fingered friends and family, a practical gift with a fun twist. Place the foam kneepad down anywhere in the garden and save those aching knees. Available with a range of novelty phrases.
:: myBunjee (£6.95, Perennial charity, http://shop.perennial.org.uk): The national horticulture charity Perennial is offering this new device which fits on to any mobile phone handset and features an extendable cord that clips to your bag, coat or belt loop, allowing you to keep your phone close and safe while you are in the garden or elsewhere. Funky colours include hot pink, lime green and black. All profits go to Perennial, the Gardeners' Royal Benevolent Society.
:: Mr Turf (£6.99-£8.99, www.thebalconygardener.com/020 7431 5553): If your man's pedantic about his lawn, this may be the ideal stocking-filler for his desk. Mr Turf is a ceramic figure with a head full of grass, just seep him in water for an hour and then water every one to two days to watch his hair grow. He comes in five different designs and is only 8cm tall. Ideal for an office desk, windowsill or coffee table.
:: National Gardens Scheme 2013 Yellow Book (£9.99, NGS, www.ngs.org.uk): Anyone who enjoys visiting gardens during the year will appreciate this guide to more than 3,800 gardens which will open on behalf of the charity. The recipient will be sent their new edition in February hot off the press.
:: Enamel Herb Pots In A Tray (£14.95, Burgon & Ball): Keep favourite kitchen herbs to hand this Christmas in these stylish and contemporary pots. They're pre-printed with basil, parsley and thyme but any label can be slotted into the window. Available in Jersey Cream and Lime Green.
:: Aged Ceramic Bird Bath (£18.50, www.thebalconygardener.com/020 7431 5553): This decorative blue and white patterned birdbath will not only benefit your feathered friends but is easy on the eye too.
:: Decorative Enamel Watering Can (£17, National Trust online shop at http://shop.nationaltrust.org.uk): Traditional garden design meets contemporary graphic styling in renowned British illustrator Sally Elford's watering can. It was inspired by the gardens at Emmetts and Wakehurst Place and with a nod to Fibonacci numbers.
:: Piazza Decorative Planter (from £14.99 to £19.99, available in good garden centres and DIY stores, visit www.stewart-garden.co.uk): New from Stewart, these easy-to-move, lightweight stone-effect planters look great in both contemporary and traditional settings. They come in three different sizes and two design colours, granite and marble green, and are ideal for small trees, colourful flowers and tasty salad vegetables.
:: Gardeners' Hand Care Tin (£25, Crabtree & Evelyn, www.crabtree-evelyn.co.uk/0800 111 4406): This luxurious new tin from Crabtree & Evelyn makes the perfect pampering present for any tired gardener with sore hands. The subtle pastel green and white tin contains a nail buffer and four favourites formulated with soothing herbs and shea butter for hands that are wonderfully moisturised and conditioned.
:: Willow Gift Basket (£24.99, Thompson & Morgan, www.giftstm.com, 0844 573 6011): This yummy hamper is packed with luxury goodies, from old-fashioned traditional recipe biscuits and preserves to creamy fudge. Each product is made in the UK from the finest natural ingredients and presented in a reusable woven basket finished with a satin ribbon.
:: Boppers High-top Welly Trainers (between £34.99 and £39.99, available from garden centres and retailers across the UK): Fed up with gardening wellies? Briers has brought out these new, shiny-finish high-top welly trainers to combine casual, practical footwear with a colourful splash of fashion. Available in four PVC colours - pink, purple, black and red - they're a funky way of being splash-proof and stylish at the same time.
:: Extra Small Station Lantern (£34.95 www.culinaryconcepts.co.uk or mail order on 01252 852 305): This statement lantern looks great inside or out, in any living space. The stainless steel, nickel-plated lantern is perfect for the patio or to create a cosy ambience in any living room.
:: Ciso Secateurs (Bosch, £39.98, from B&Q UK stores until Dec 20; RRP £49.98): Anyone who finds manual pruning difficult may appreciate this powered alternative. Perfect for pruning small branches that need trimming back, the cordless Ciso has an integrated lithium-ion battery and a patented 'Power Blade' system. Gardeners can glide through branches up to 14mm thick with the press of a trigger. Comes in its own gift tin.
:: WoodBlocX Raised Bed (size 2250x1125x450), (£225.95, www.woodblocx.co.uk): Installing a raised bed is one of the easiest ways to create a new vegetable garden. Dragons Den's Peter Jones has recently given WoodBlocX self-assembly raised beds the thumbs up. The Lego-like pine blocks slot together easily and there's no heavy lifting, drilling or screwing needed to create a beautiful and functional raised bed in the garden. Smaller beds start at £100.
Best of the bunch - Box (Buxus sempervirens)
This well-behaved evergreen is the perfect plant for creating a neat topiary shape either in pots or in formal borders and will stay looking good all year long with the occasional trim to keep it in shape.
Box balls make great Christmas presents but can also be decorated with baubles and bows during the festive season, placed either at the side of a front door or to be viewed on the patio.
Box prefers sun or partial shade, but be aware that the combination of dry soil and full sun may encourage poor growth and leaf scorching.
If you have sandy soil, it is best to keep them in a partially shady spot in the garden. Carefully cut back plants grown as hedges or topiary in mid or late summer. Tidy them up in late spring.
After pruning apply a top-dressing of a balanced slow-release fertiliser such as blood, fish and bone around the base of the plant, ensuring that none touches the leaves or stems.
Good enough to eat - Sprouting seeds
You don't need a garden, soil or even a pot to grow sprouting seeds, which include everything from Chinese bean shoots to alfalfa, aduki bean and fenugreek, and can be sprouted in a jam jar.
Soak the seeds for around an hour in tepid water, then rinse them well in a fine sieve under a tap before placing them in a jar topped with a clean piece of cotton fabric secured with an elastic band.
Place the jar in a warm place such as an airing cupboard, or on a windowsill which has a constant warm temperature. The sprouting seeds need to be rinsed two or three times a day at regular intervals. To do this, half fill the jar with water, swill it around and then tip it into a fine sieve, rinsing the seedlings before returning them to the jar.
Mung beans, which can be used in stir fries or raw in salads, take three to five days; fenugreek, which is spicy, takes the same; while alfalfa, which tastes faintly of fresh peas, is ready in two to three days.
Three ways to... Plant trees successfully
1. Only plant your tree in the winter months, choosing a young healthy specimen suitable for your soil type.
2. Feed your tree with bone meal or another general-purpose fertiliser with plenty of trace elements as well as nitrogen, potassium and phosphorus.
3. Protect your tree from the elements and local wildlife with an appropriate tree guard.
What to do this week
:: Shorten hybrid tea roses and floribundas to reduce the damage from windrock.
:: Cut back a third of the summer's growth on hardy fuchsias, leaving the remaining bare stems as protection over the winter.
:: Complete the pruning of bush fruits as soon as practicable, remembering to leave late-fruiting raspberries until February.
:: If carrying out late turfing, protect the ground to be worked on and any stacked turf, or frost may prevent the job.
:: If you intend to save leek bulbils, cut the heads before there are hard frosts.
:: When staking trees, place the stake on the side which receives the prevailing wind, so that the stem is blown away from the stake and the bark is less likely to be damaged.
:: Increase stocks of winter jasmin, Jasminum nudiflorum, by taking cuttings now and inserting them in a cold frame.
:: After putting this year's lifted dahlias away for the winter, check next year's requirements and order fresh stock.
:: Have a good weeding session to catch as many as you can before they start growing again in spring.
:: Continue to plant tulips at around three times their own depth of soil, as shallow planting can cause them to fail.
:: Protect valuable pots with bubble wrap to stop frost damage.
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