All I want for Christmas 2015 is …….


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!