Posts tagged ‘gifts for gardeners’

March 21, 2014

Book: The Ivington Diaries

Books about learning to garden can be a bit repetitive. After all, there’s only a handful of ways to sow seeds. Books on gardens, however, are wonderful. This example from Monty Don, has captured my attention and really made me want to learn more and visit more gardens to understand planting on a larger scale. It’s written as a year’s worth of diary entries, but with the years ranging over roughly a decade, so for example January 1st 1999 is followed by January 4th, 2004 and it’s utterly captivating.  Monty writes so engagingly he makes you want to walk around the acres of garden (sections have names;  spring garden, jewel garden, white garden) and take a peek into the potting sheds. He writes of practical matters, mulch being a favourite, and of the joy and artistry of creating a beautiful garden, not to mention the work that goes into creating such a garden from scratch and his words are accompanied by lush photography so you get a good overview of the different parts of the garden through the year.

The book format (even down to the paper and font choices), reminds me very much of Nigel Slater’s Kitchen Diary which is an absolute favourite book of mine, so if you liked that, imagine a similar book set in a garden, and you’ve gone some way towards capturing the feel of this book.

The garden in question is at his home, Ivington, where he and his family moved following the collapse of the family business and the death of his mother. The house they bought and the creation of the garden seems to have brought their lives back together and in his own words ‘rebuilt’ him.  He writes with such love, attention and humour and, because the book is written as short diary entries, it’s really easy to dip into and read whenever you’ve got a free minute. I really recommend it, and think it would be a wonderful gift for Mothering Sunday…

The Ivington Diaries

December 17, 2012

My Sole Christmas Gift Idea: Stack Magazines.

Regular readers of this blog might notice that I’ve been absent for a week or so. There are a few reasons for this. Firstly, I’ve been spending a lot of time reading for my Goodreads Challenge (more on that in another post) secondly, I wrote a guest post about great Christmas gifts for gardeners for the utterly marvellous The Culture Vulture and lastly because the run up to Christmas is a bit crazy, and I’ve been struggling to find the time. And, if I’m honest, the motivation.

Having written one Christmas gift guide post, I didn’t really want to write another one, and the internet is overflowing with Christmas blog posts and wonderful gift guides anyway. I’m not feeling particularly Christmassy myself so haven’t felt much like adding my two penn’orth to the conversation until now. This isn’t because I’m feeling Scrooge-like about it, but I really only ever feel Christmassy in those final few days leading up to Christmas Day, when I’ve finished work and am at home wrapping presents, mulling wine and listening to Carols. I rather hate that we start being bombarded with Christmas stuff roughly the day after the shops have finished trying to sell us Hallowe’en costumes and fireworks. How cynical I am…

If you’re anything like me, you’ll still have gifts to choose and not much time to get them organised. So, in my only contribution to the whole Christmas shopping conversation, I present to you my last minute gift solution for that difficult-to-buy-for person in your life: A subscription to Stack.

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I’ve spoken before about my magazine buying addiction – and how it’s a constant battle, but one that I’m gradually winning – but the one subscription I’m not giving up is my subscription to Stack. Earlier this year, I was fortunate enough to go to a Guardian Masterclass on Reinventing Magazines, during which the founder of Stack spoke with lots of passion about the future of the printed word. When I got home from the event, I subscribed immediately. It’s a unique service, posting out a different independently produced magazine each month. You don’t know what you’re going to be sent, so each month is like a little surprise. The one thing that links them all is that they’re beautifully created. I’ve had a variety of titles, on subjects including film, food, cycling and urban art. All of them have had something to interest me, and in some cases, I’ve fallen completely in love with them. This month I received Delayed Gratification, a magazine dedicated to ‘Slow Journalism’ and it’s wonderful. Some other titles they send out include Little White Lies, Fire & Knives, Rouleur, Wooden-Toy Quarterly and Oh Comely. All of which are gorgeous, intelligent and worth savouring. Not like many other glossy magazines that are basically stuffed full of adverts and articles that promise to help us ‘Get the Perfect Life/Body/Wardrobe in Ten Easy Steps’… Or, in other words, a lot of wasted paper and ink.

Because I am tardy with my Christmas post, it’s too late to get a gift issue sent out before Christmas, but you can get a gift card right up to Christmas Eve so it’s a perfect last minute gift for someone who will then receive magazines in the new year. And given how much I love Delayed Gratification, that seems rather appropriate…

September 10, 2012

Burgon and Ball Trowel: a review.

Since spending more time on the allotment, I’ve come to realise that gardening tools are a bit like kitchen tools. There are a lot of fancy gadgets to spend your money on, but you’re more likely to rely on a few well-made and carefully chosen pieces of kit.  My beloved Felco secateurs definitely fall into this category. I never go to the allotment without them. I’ve been a bit short on other tools though, and so I’m really grateful for this beautiful new trowel courtesy of Notonthehighstreet.com.

Designed by Sophie Conran for Burgon and Ball, it’s one of a complete range of hand tools designed to fit women’s hands – they’re slightly smaller, with a slimmer handle.  It has a curving back, which just looks like a design, but actually it really helps stop you losing soil off the back of the trowel, so it’s practical too. It’s reassuringly weighty (but not overwhelmingly so), demonstrating its nice quality. I’m already really enjoying using it, and look forward to the  beechwood handle developing the warm patina of many years of use. All the tools in the range come individually packaged in a lovely blue box, and would make such a nice gift.

Photo from Notonthehighstreet.com

I’ve been really impressed with Notonthehighstreet.com‘s range of products. They have an extensive range of gifts for all the different people in your life, many of which are hand-made in this country by craftspeople; a great way to support small businesses. The standard is really high, I’ve loved everything I’ve bought from there in the past, which has mostly been jewellery as gifts. In fact the only problem with the site is the amount of choice, which means it takes ages for me to decide!

Now that the Autumn term has started at school, my thoughts are already turning to Christmas (there, I said it) and it’s the perfect place to look for unusual, often personalised, presents. I’ve already seen a few things that would be great for my kids so I’ll be back soon.

With many thanks to Notonthehighstreet.com for providing me with the gorgeous trowel to review.