All I want for Christmas 2015 is …….

Reading time 7 minutes

Coming up with a Christmas list is one of those annual tasks that sounds fun and indulgent, but which I find perenially difficult. Throughout the year I have no shortage of bright ideas, especially post Chelsea and Hampton Court when I am convinced I need shiny new tools, glossy magazine subsriptions or the latest variety of some rare and fickle plant. I possess very little willpower, so if I really want something I tend to buy it there and then. Other desires sink to the bottom of my mind to gather dust with everything I ever learned about maths, football and how to fix a car.

In 2015 I find myself with rather more of a list for Father Christmas than I expected. Since the end of the summer I have tried, reasonably successfully, to curtail any discretionary spending. This, as anyone who knows me well with attest to, has been no mean feat. Only one new shirt has made it into my wardrobe, and just a single pair of shoes. They are practical and I will get a lot of wear out of them I tell myself. (Bulbs, seeds and plants are excluded from all austerity measures: these are necessities, as every gardener knows.)


Since we are going to be building a library in the spring (the image above from House and Garden is almost exactly the result I am looking for) it follows that I will need books to fill it. We are both looking forward to the day when the precarious stalagmites of bound paper that have grown up around The Watch House are finally transferred to their new home. Top of my list is “The Gardens of Arne Maynard” published by Merrell. Beyond his celebrated Chelsea show gardens I know less that I would like about Arne Maynard, a designer renowned for his ability to interpret a garden’s unique sense of place. I hope this rather lushious book will quickly enlighten me.


On the practical side I am willing a friend to dig deep and gift me “The Greenhouse Expert”, written by the man who guided me through my early years as a gardener, Dr. David Gerald Hessayon. As a recent returnee to greenhouse gardening I hope this book will provide a simple, no-nonsense reference to growing under glass.

At some point in the future our existing aluminium greenhouse will have to move to make way for phase two of the building work at Polegate Cottage. The choice will then be to dismantle and re-site or replace with a new, more compact model. If my fairy godmother wins the lottery this side of Christmas I might ask her for Gabriel Ash’s “Grow and Store” model which combines a shed and greenhouse in one clever building. The grand size, measuring 13′ x 12′ would be the perfect retreat for me when Him Indoors and I fall out. I’d emerge the next morning, smelling of tomatoes and riddled with greenfly.


If I were to write a list of the all the books I had started reading this year but not finished, it would be a very lengthy list. However I’ll make time for Richard Mabey’s “The Cabaret of Plants” which explores, in Mr Mabey’s lyrical way, how plant species have influenced the human world, challenging our imaginations, shaping history and providing answers for our future. The Cabaret of Plants promises to be an enlightening and gripping read for those winter days when the gales roar in from the east.


Next on my list is a pair of Okatsune secateurs from Niwaki, a company that devotes itself to selling “great stuff for gardeners”. I don’t have hedges to trim or lawns to mow, so secateurs are are my blades of choice. Having been a confirmed Felco man for many years I feel it’s time to try something new. Like all Japanese products the design of Okatsune secateurs is simple, functional and stylish. The blades are fashioned from an especially tough steel and are designed to draw sap away from the cutting edges. Others that have converted from Felco to Okatsune say they’d never go back. We shall see!


And, finally, the lovely gate-legged tudor table that we hope might eventually grace the library will need a centrepiece. I’m angling for one of The Urban Botanist’s beautiful modern terrariums which I plan to plant up with orchids, ferns and mosses. The Supersize Aztec Gem terrarium costs £125 unplanted and stands an impressive 54cm high. This could be my fourth and lowest maintenance garden yet.

In truth my best Christmas present is something that money can’t buy – spending time with my sister and neice next weekend to exchange presents and enjoy a bit of play time. I don’t really need any of the gifts above, but I’m sure as hell not telling Father Christmas that.

What are you hoping that Father Christmas will bring you this year? Do share!


Categories: Flowers, Musings, Photography, Plants

Posted by The Frustrated Gardener

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21 comments On "All I want for Christmas 2015 is ……."

  1. I have lusted over that “store and grow” building since we saw it at Hampton Court – it is exactly what I would like IN addition to a more ‘grown up’ glasshouse….have a super weekend with the family TFG. Hope Santa brings you everything on your ‘making a list’….x

    1. Thanks Helen. Now I have seen that it comes in a bigger version I really could see myself moving in to that greenhouse. I could stick a couple of solar panels on the top, install running water, put up a camp bed and Bob’s your Uncle!

  2. Oh….I just had to research those pruners, and of course order myself a set. I don’t think Santa is going to get me anything this year. I have the Arne Maynard book already on my wish list at the book store. Maybe I will order it and wrap it for myself to open on Christmas morning.

  3. Well, Danny,

    I do not have a list as I AM Father Xmas :). For me it is getting gifts for other people that make it the festive season. Have a great time with your family.

  4. I am still enjoying the indulgence of my Gabriel Ash greenhouse which arrived just over two years ago and is now full for winter, again. It was worth the wait – approximately 10 years!! – and I have not wanted anything else much since. Hope Father Christmas takes the hint from your list.

  5. Wow – where to start. The plan for the library is stunning, the terrarium is gorgeous, the books will keep you busy all winter, the pruning shears look like a great find, and the greenhouse – well the greenhouse is just right over the top. I could definitely use some new pruners and I’m dreaming about some new containers. Here’s hoping you have a safe trip to see your family and that you have a marvelous visit. Hope Santa brings Martha absolutely everything on her list. 🙂

    1. Thanks Judy. I shall take some photographs next weekend to send you. Martha is going to be beside herself as her dolls seem to be flavour of the month at the moment. I hope you get some nice treats for Christmas 🙂

  6. over here in Germany, the x-mas wishes are adressed to Christkind, which literally means christ-child, I take this to be Baby Jesus. For an atheist like me, I am very into Christmas and gifting (never having had any of it, while growing up). So on my list this year is a new spade (broke the handle on mine last week) and a pruning shear (actually, I’ll look for the one you recommend here, it looks grand).

    1. They are worth seeking out, and seem to be becoming more popular. I also broke a spade this year, but bought myself a new one as I was half way through a job and couldn’t finish without it. I hope you get everything you wish for this Christmas and have a happy time!

  7. I love the idea of a greenhouse cum shed. A friend of mine has something similar – already on her property when she moved in but built by someone specifically rather than shop-bought.

  8. And where would the bar and fridge for wine and tonic go? Noooo , water and solar panels r not enough….stay with ur Reno plans!!!

  9. Somewhat late to the threat, but… Oh for a library! Like the one in the picture, please!!! I do envy you enormously as I know those “precarious stalagmites of bound paper” only too well. We have them in pretty much every room, combined with two lively small children who love to kick a ball (which, of course, they are not allowed indoors but will do none the less)…

    Since I can’t have the library, I’ll settle for books (logical isn’t it 🙂 ): “Fathers of Botany” by Jane Kilpatrick, subtitle “The discovery of Chinese plants by European missionaries” and “That Glorious Forest – Exploring the plants and their indigenous uses in Amazonia” by Ghillean T. Prance. I’ve tiptoed around both at Kew numerous times but thought I couldn’t justify the cost. However, since I don’t do Christmas lists – or only to provide “Father Christmas” with the stuff my small ones have drawn and scribbled on theirs – I’ll probably use the excuse of Christmas and birthday coming up to lay my hands on them at last :-).

    Seeing your wish list, I might add Mabey’s “Cabaret of Plants”… Can someone please open a “rent a library” scheme??
    Hope your own wishes come true – the most important ones, anyway!

    1. Thank you Stefanie. Those books sound seriously interesting. I hope you do indulge! And if the library ends up looking half as good as that picture I will of course share some photos of it. In the meantime, keep those stalagmites standing!!

  10. Save your money D, there’s no need for real books to fill all those shelves!
    Go down to B&M bargains and buy a set of fake plastic books for £3.99!
    If youre in luck you might be able to pick up a plastic phormium or a couple of purple plastic hanging box balls to hang around your front door. Sor’ed!

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