Gardening: Christmas gifts to get your children into the garden

Kids' Small Personalised Crate - www.plantabox.co.uk
Kids' Small Personalised Crate - www.plantabox.co.uk

Struggling to get gifts for your gardening friends and relatives? Here is a selection of the best products on the market – they’ll not want to stay indoors on Christmas Day!

Encouraging children to get into horticulture can be challenging but these three gifts certainly help:

Pocket Pruner Multi Tool - www.kikkerlandeu.com

Pocket Pruner Multi Tool - www.kikkerlandeu.com

Kid’s Small Personalised Crate contains a choice of seeds from the ‘Fun to Grow’ Kids range so all they have to do is plant and watch them grow. Pack includes small crate (31cm x 20cm x 15cm), personalised with 18 characters per line, planting liner, seeds and growing instructions. Price £32, www.plantabox.co.uk.

Little Thoughtful Gardener The Great Sunflower Race Kit – who can grow the tallest and most impressive sunflower?

This pint-sized watering can comes with sunflower seeds plus a paper tape measure. Price £14.95, www.annabeljames.co.uk.

A bit expensive for a child’s gift but something they’ll love in the garden. Camilla The Caterpillar is hand finished from recycled shipping drums and other upcycled materials with a design that stands out and catches the eye.

Little Thoughtful Gardener The Great Sunflower Race Kit - www.annabeljames.co.uk

Little Thoughtful Gardener The Great Sunflower Race Kit - www.annabeljames.co.uk

Finished with tough lacquer paint, price £99.99, www.gardenfurniturecentre.co.uk.

These two gifts will encourage birds to visit (and stay) in your garden;

This personalised RHS bird house has a removable bottom for easy cleaning and is made from FSC approved wood with a turquoise roof. It can be engraved with a message of up to 40 characters. Dimensions 23cm x 15cm x 14.5cm, price £22.99, www.GettingPersonal.co.uk.

Winter Bird Seed Gift Box contains three hand blended seed mixes and a seed scoop for robins, a general winter mix and the Boxwild Bird Seed Blend – 50p from each box sold goes to UK wildlife charities. Price £18, www.boxwild.com.

Elderflower Tool Box - www.magpieline.com - Picture by Garry Samuels

Elderflower Tool Box - www.magpieline.com - Picture by Garry Samuels

Pocket-sized tools are so handy, as are containers to carry them around the garden:

Sophie Conran for Burgon & Ball’s galvanized trug is a great way to carry your tools about. Price £24.99, www.dobbies.com.

These Copper Coloured Scissors made of iron have a black leather grip for small-scale pruning tasks. Size 16cm, price £15, www.tandshop.com.

A handy tool indeed – this Pocket Pruner Multi Tool includes a pruner, saw blade, knife blade, rule, ruler, Philips head, 2x flat head, wrench, awl, bottle opener and can opener. Price £22.50, www.kikkerlandeu.com.

Keep your tools neat and to hand in this Elderflower Tool Box from Flora. It has a hinged lid, made of powder coated steel and measures 24.4cm x 17.8cm x 10.2cm. Price £25, www.magpieline.com

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JOBS FOR THE WEEKEND

Plant bare-root deciduous hedging plants, trees and shrubs promptly, before they dry out. They can be heeled in for a short period if weather conditions are bad.

Lightly prune bush roses to prevent wind-rock, as they are usually shallow rooted. Climbing roses should be pruned now at the very latest.

Tie wall shrubs and climbers on to their supports to protect them from wind damage. Prune off any growth that refuses to be trained.

Take hardwood cuttings of ornamental shrubs such as Cornus, Euonymus, Forsythia, Hydrangea, Ilex and Salix.

Put fallen leaves on the compost heap or into separate pens for rotting down into leafmould.

Plant lily bulbs in pots to be brought inside next spring to force them into an early display, or left outside to flower naturally in summer.

Tulip bulbs can now go in. Species tulips naturalise, but showier varieties are best treated as bedding, and replaced every year.

Apply an autumn mulch to protect plants that are borderline hardy such as Agapanthus, Kniphofia (red hot pokers) and Phygelius. The plants’ own leaves, e.g. Kniphofia, can be tied up and used as protection for the crowns underneath.

The wet autumn has made many clay soils unworkable until spring.Mulching will help to improve and maintain soil structure.

Lift and store dahlias, cannas and tuberous bedding begonias that have been hit by the first frosts. Make sure that you have not forgotten any of your tender plants and bulbs – they need to be brought inside or into a heated greenhouse over the winter. Protect alpines from the wet, if you have not done so already.

In mild weather, weeds will still appear. Hoe regularly to keep them in check.

Group tropical houseplants on trays of wet gravel for more humidity when the central heating comes on.

Pelargoniums can be cut back, de-leaved, watered less, not fed, and kept relatively dormant and just moist, over the winter. Re-potting, watering and feeding in the spring will bring them back into active growth. They should be kept at around 10°C (50°F) while dormant, although mine have endured much lower temperatures than that.

When bringing plants indoors, check them for pests and diseases. Poor-looking plants can always be tipped out of the pot to examine their rootballs for signs of over or under watering, or for soil pests like vine weevil larvae.

Rake fallen leaves off lawns before they block out light and moisture from the grass. Grass will grow in temperatures above 5°C (41°F), so a final trim on a high height may be needed.