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Gardening Gifts for Christmas by Beth Otway

I treasure the joy I experience when I find the perfect gift for a special person. I will share this joy with you by mentioning the best products that I have tried and tested this year, to help you find superb presents for your loved ones this Christmas.

There are many great local gardening societies who meet regularly across Surrey. Membership of a gardening society is a lovely gift. Society members can learn more about gardening, make new friends and have fun! If you’re looking for a society near you, or a friend or relation, visit  www.surreyhorticulturalfederation.org where you’ll find details of horticultural societies and information about their meetings, talks, shows, and events.

The Surrey Horticultural Federation are hosting a very special Spring Talk entitled ‘Trees a Cut Above the Rest’ with Tony Kirkham, Head of Arboretum at the Royal Botanic Gardens Kew, at 2.30pm, on Sunday 4th March 2018 at Normandy Village Hall, Manor Fruit Farm, Glaziers Lane, Normandy, Guildford, GU3 2DE. Tickets to this event are limited and available in advance. Ticket prices: £7.50 for members of affiliated societies, £10 for non-members. Please enclose a stamped envelope, marked with your address, with a cheque payable to Surrey Horticultural Federation and post to SHF Secretary, Redleaf Nursery, Green Lane, Tilford, Farnham, GU10 2AP.

The National Vegetable Society are hosting a very special evening with ‘No Dig’ advocate Charles Dowding, who will give a talk entitled ‘Successional Sowing and No Dig Gardening’ at 8pm, on Wednesday 14th March 2017, at East Horsley Village Hall, Kingston Avenue, East Horsley, Leatherhead, KT24 8QT. Entrance is free for NVS members. Tickets are £1 for members of affiliated societies, £2 for RHS students, and £5 for other visitors. Post a stamped envelope, marked with your address, to NVS Treasurer, 1 Oakfields, West Byfleet, Surrey, KT14 6RZ, with a cheque payable to the National Vegetable Society Surrey District Association.

I was thrilled to receive a gift of an Access Garden Products Exbury classic growhouse this autumn (below). This growhouse, is rather like a tall cold frame, it is free standing (lean-to models are available) and boasts some great features, including an automatic watering system, sliding doors, 4mm toughened safety glass, versatile staging and shelves that are easily added or removed. The Aluminium framework can be colour coated in a range of attractive colours and has a 25 year guarantee. If you don’t have room for a glasshouse, this is perfect!

Green & Blue Bee Bricks and Bee Blocks  are brilliant. Designed as nest sites for solitary bees, these bricks and blocks can be incorporated into house builds, extensions, or used as a bee home in your garden or allotment. I love my BiOrbAir Terrarium! This updated terrarium offers a number of new features and runs silently, it’s a great improvement on the older model. I grow a wide range of miniature orchids, ferns, and terrarium plants inside my BiOrbAir terrariums.

Dalefoot Composts produced the best performing composts in my 2016 Peat Free Compost Trial. Dalefoot Composts are available for purchase online and delivered to homes across the UK, saving the recipient the task of collecting and unloading their compost.

In my 2017 Sweet Pea Trial, the Maxi Rootrainers from Haxnicks performed better than the more widely used Deep Rootrainers. These larger-sized seed trays are ideal to use for sowing sweet peas, tomatoes, beans, and other deep-rooted plants.Now for some book recommendations.

Hedera: The Complete Guide by Hugh McAllister and Rosalyn Marshall, published by the Royal Horticultural Society (ISBN: 978-1-90705-773-1), is a marvellous ivy encyclopaedia. Packed full of everything you could wish to know about ivy, this fantastic book is perfect for Christmas.

Why not give Charles Dowding’s latest book alongside the talk tickets? No Dig Organic Home & Garden: Grow, Cook, Use and Store Your Harvest by Charles Dowding and Stephanie Hafferty, published by Permanent Publications (ISBN: 978-1-85623-301-9) is a fabulous book, full of information for gardeners, cooks, and anyone inspired to create products using natural ingredients.

The Book of Orchids: A Life-Size Guide to Six Hundred Species from around the World by Maarten Christenhusz, published by The Ivy Press (ISBN: 978-1-78240-403-3) is a wonderful book for orchid enthusiasts that features life-size pictures of each orchid.

The Chinese Kitchen Garden: Growing Techniques and Family Recipes from a Classic Cuisine by Wendy Kiang-Spray, published by Timber Press (ISBN: 978-1-60469-677-6) is a charming book that’s certain to delight keen cooks and gardeners alike.

The English Roses by David Austin (ISBN: 978-1-84091-751-2), published by Conran Octopus is an updated book of roses, ideal for anyone planning a rose garden.

Garden membership is a wonderful gift. The recipient will enjoy unlimited visits during opening times, with many gardens offering other exclusive, member only benefits. We are fortunate to have so many glorious gardens open to us and many are close by. It’s important to support these gardens and charitable organisations, to ensure we protect these beautiful spaces of historical and horticultural importance, their plant collections, horticultural knowledge, expertise, and training opportunities, for future generations.

Christmas is traditionally thought of as the season of goodwill. Friendship and times shared together are priceless. Why not volunteer to help in a friend or relation’s garden, at a school, or in a local garden? Gardening is wonderfully uplifting – it’s magical to share the experience and the joy.

For full reviews and more information about each of these gifts, a planting list for terrariums and bottle gardens, gardening advice for the month ahead, and much more besides, visit my website www.pumpkinbeth.com.

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