Gardening: ‘Christmas presents for gardeners’

A birdhouse can provide great amusement for the young gardeners as well as attracting lots of birds
Garden centres today are Aladdin’s caves when it comes to selecting a Christmas gift.

Garden centres today are Aladdin’s caves when it comes to selecting a Christmas gift.

In recent years garden centres can supply everything you could possible want for Christmas, except turkeys. With something to suit all budgets, you will find your local garden centre a one-stop shop for gifts for gardeners and non-gardeners. Visiting your local garden centre can be a stress-free shopping experience, you don’t have to worry about parking or being clamped and in the bigger centres you can finish off your shopping with a cup of tea or coffee.

Outside lights in the garden have become very popular in recent years, check that the lights are suitable for outdoor use, you can never be too careful with electricity. Lanterns can look stunning with a candle or nightlight placed inside in your conservatory, on your patio or near your front door. Solar garden lights are increasing in popularity. They will not add to your electricity bill and are extremely easy to place in your garden.

They are great to highlight a path or dangerous step. They will work through the year no matter what the level of sunlight is.

A gardener can never have enough pots which always look great when planted with seasonal colour. There is a vast range of high quality glazed pots in every shape and size to choose from. Choose pots that are frost resistant.

A secateurs is always appreciated because they are so easily mislaid, there is even a secateurs for the left-handed gardener. A pruning saw is useful for cutting large branches.

A birdhouse can provide great amusement for the young gardeners and will attract lots of birds into 
the garden.

At this time of the year birds need to stock up with fat, they love peanuts and seeds. There are different types of feeders, birdbaths and birdhouses available to suit every garden. Place them in the garden where they can be seen from the house.

Gardening gloves are especially popular with children as an inexpensive gift for a gardening grandparent, uncle or aunt. Gift tokens are also available at garden centres.

A bay tree grown in a pot looks great, it can be pruned to give a round head, spiral or a pyramid shape. A pair of bay leaves outside your front door will add elegance to your house.

Some garden centres sell Christmas trees growing in pots which can be planted out in the garden when the season is over. Nothing beats the smell of a real tree, artificial trees are generally imported, made of plastic which is not a renewable source of energy. Most cut trees are grown in Ireland and provide employment for growers and retailers.

A book is always an acceptable gift at Christmas, a gardening book like ‘Irish Gardening for All Seasons’ by Phyl and Dick Boyce, will help you to plan your garden for next year without having to leave the comfort of your house during these dreary wet and windy days.

Pot plants for Christmas

The pot plant is still the favourite Christmas gift. The quality and range of plants available gets better each year. The following are some of the traditional, colourful ones available.

Poinsettias are available in red, pink and white. They are very sensitive to temperature changes so buy Irish grown poinsettias which are of a higher quality and have greater staying power.

Cyclamen are available in white, pink, red and salmon. When buying carefully investigate under the leaves and you should be able to see lots of emerging flower buds. Keep them in a cool room and out of direct sunlight to prolong flowering for many weeks.

Jasmine (Jasmine officianale) has highly scented tubular white flowers that will fill a room with fragrance. Keep them in a cool room to prolong flowering. If scent is required in a warm room, move the plant into the room for a few hours and then return to a cool 
room later.

The Christmas Cactus is a cast iron Christmas plant that thrives, within limits, on neglect. It needs a temperature between 10 and 18ºC and good daylight to flower. A houseplant is always an acceptable gift, whether you are going to a party, a friend’s house or just treating yourself.

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