With winter here we need to think of presents, not just for Christmas but a living present, and what better than to plant something with a little perfume.  Witch Hazel (Hamamelis), winter Honeysuckle (Lonicera ‘Winter Beauty’) and Daphne will add attractive fragrance to your winter border. Plant variegated shrubs such as Eleagnus, Osmanthus, Phormiums and Pieris which can create great colour in the borders with their  highly attractive gold or silver-edged foliage. 

Even the most boring gifts can be made totally individual and exciting with the addition of a packet of seeds. All you need to do is have the recipient’s garden in mind. If its jam-packed with plants then think along the lines of climbers such as Sweet Peas, Morning Glory (Ipomoea) or Black Eyed Susan Vine (Thunbergia). Everyone can find a piece of fence space for these lovelies to clamber up, or you could splash out with a clematis plant. Men will tend to prefer a packet of vegetable seeds and an unusual variety of runner bean or tomato should hit the spot. Yes, pop a packet of seeds inside those socks or in the pair of pyjamas or naughty nighty you are giving as presents, it will cause a laugh if nothing else.

Children will appreciate a complete kit rather than a simple packet of seeds. Choose one that includes some compost and a plant pot so they have everything they need to start growing immediately. For windowsill gardening try Geraniums, Bonsai trees and decorative ferns to give children hours of enjoyment and years of interest. So too will simple packets of vegetable seeds that can be sown in patio pots where they are to crop. If the child you have in mind has little growing experience, buy them carrots or courgettes as results are almost guaranteed. For the more experienced teenager perhaps sweet corn or climbing beans are more appropriate. Never rule out tools for the garden, all youngsters like to own their very own spade and fork don`t they.

Its amazing how much we spend on our feathered friends protecting and fattening them up with bird food, regular fresh water and nesting boxes. With the demise of natural populations of song birds around the country we can all do our bit to make gardens a safer haven for them all. Sprinkling seed onto a bird table is likely to encourage unwanted visitors such as wood pigeons, bullying magpies and hungry grey squirrels. That’s why double caged bird feeders make such good gifts. They allow easy access to the central core of seed or nuts for small songbirds such as robins, finches and sparrows, while the outer cage helps to keep out bigger birds and squirrels.

Providing clean fresh water for garden birds to drink and bathe in will not only improve their well-being, but it will also increase everyone’s enjoyment of their antics.

Posted in Gardening By Ken Crowther On 14th December 2009

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