Gardening with Shirley Lanigan

Gardening Gift Guide

Shirley Lanigan

Reporter:

Shirley Lanigan

Email:

news@kilkennypeople.ie

Gardening Gift Guide

Gardening Gift Guide

Gardeners are practical. They are doers and doers always need the wherewithal with which to do. Even those few who have everything, find that some of what they have wears out and gets broken. Therefore, they always need things and a practical something will be forever welcome.

Steer clear of frivolities. You might look at their garden and think that your pal seems to like the silly and frilly. You might be right, but your silly and frilly is not necessarily in line with theirs, so when it comes to buying a gardener a present, do guess at what they might find attractive.  Stick to the useable gift.

Even buying plants for gardeners can be a bit problematic. I know someone who was given a present of a blue weeping cedar. A blue cedar, properly known as Cedrus atlantica ‘Glauca’ is a magnificent tree, a truly spectacular plant, that eventually reaches to a height and spread of 25 metres tall and 10 metres wide. The giver obviously thought they were making a fine – and fairly pricy present. Unfortunately the recipient had a town garden that only measured seven metres by twenty.

Not only would it have taken over their garden, it would have eventually made its way over the walls of the neighbours, casting shade and spreading its branches in all directions. Take this to its logical or perhaps not so logical conclusion and you could find yourself in the middle of long standing neighbourly feud, with bad blood and legal writs all round – all from one ill considered plant present. So far so comic. 

It need not be quite that dramatic: You might buy a pretty rhododendron for a friend, but if their soil is alkaline, the poor shrub will simply suffer a slow death at their hands. Imagine it: You could be giving misery and a sense of personal failure rather than a grand plant.

If you do not know the exact circumstances into which you are sending a plant, forget it.  Stay clear of large plants, shrubs and trees. Stay away from items of outdoor décor too. The fire pit you love might not be to their taste. The statue of Buddha or Neptune you think of as just the ticket, might not fit with their scheme.

The best guess is to stick to the useful item, the practical tool and all things serviceable. This way you cannot go wrong. We all use up and wear out tools and gadgets. Hand tools get lost, bent and have their handles eaten by dogs. Kneelers get wet and need to be put in the hot press for a few days to dry out. More hand forks, bulb planters and kneelers will always hit the mark.

You can never go wrong with a pot or planter, but check out what style they prefer. Do they go for glazed colourful pots or terracotta, faux lead or stone?

They will always find uses for more of what they already have – and anyway, pots and containers are always getting broken and are invariably in short supply.

Spare watering cans is a nice small luxury. A few miniature ones placed close to wherever there are group of house plants gathered, makes life easier.

If there are two taps outside, a metal watering can standing beside each is a practical and attractive thing.

If your gardening friend likes birds, a new bird feeding station, table or hanger will also be welcome.

If you want to push the boat out, Felco secateurs are the Rolls Royce of secateurs. They can even be sent back to the factory for repair and servicing – no matter how old they are… A very sustainable present. All the good large garden centres stock them.

You can play it really safe and get them a voucher for their favourite garden centre, flower shop or even farm and hardware store.  Likewise, if they have a favourite specialist plant nursery, you could present them with a voucher for that.

There are no end of gardening courses available. One of these might go down well. But if you are unsure, talk to one of their garden friends to see what the most welcome course might be.

A gardening diary is a good present for the more active gardener. It allows them to make a record of what work they have carried out, which will allow them, over the years, to see more accurately what work worked and what work was a failure – complete with incriminating – and congratulatory dates.

A subscription to a garden club or society might be another idea – perhaps to the Royal Horticultural Society of Ireland or the Irish Garden Plant Society, (Details on the Web) as well as the local Kilkenny Horticultural Society. Joining gives the chance to attend garden talks and events as well as making trips to open gardens at home and abroad.

Next week, the last minute present – a book