Christmas: a time for giving - and receiving ....

Packed full of perfect gifts
As Christmas fast approaches, catalogues from numerous companies fly through the letterbox, extolling the virtues of products designed to encourage those difficult annual decisions on what to give family, friends and loved ones. Last week, I mentioned the gift section in the main Dobies catalogue, but now one devoted entirely to Christmas gifts has arrived – and it’s also available in an online version. Ignore the 2012 date on the printed edition – just one of those things that can inadvertently slip through at proofing stage! It’s very much for 2011 and any order received before 16th December for over £50.00 will attract a £5.00 discount. You don’t have to spend that much of course; all orders are welcome – and why not note down the reference numbers of items YOU yourself would appreciate, and leave the list lying where your nearest and dearest cannot fail to notice it!

Browsing through my copy, these are the items that particularly struck me for my own  ‘wish list’. First come baskets of spring bulbs – blue ‘muscari’ (X40175) and golden miniature ‘tête-a-tête’ (X40176) daffs. Delightful indoors, they can be planted outside afterwards where they will continue to bloom for years to come each Spring and the baskets re-used for any number of things. I’ve abandoned the idea of a traditional Christmas Tree and think I’ll order a dwarf ‘Picea albertiana conica’ (X40165) which can sit on our coffee table and then on the sheltered terrace after the New Year. Supplied in a 3-litre plastic pot, it, too, will give pleasure for years to come.

Turning to gifts for the older grandchildren, I’m attracted to ‘The Beginners Seed Collection’ (X40195), not least because of its ingenious ruler with correctly-spaced holes (dibber also included) for sowing the easy-to-grow seeds supplied – six packets: French Mix leaf salad, White Lisbon salad onion, Jolly radish, Pancho leek, Ideal carrot and Ferrari dwarf French bean. Our own grandchildren are past the playing stage, but younger little ones will love the section devoted specifically to their needs – junior Bulldog tools useful for small adults, too), paper-pot-maker, colourful took kit, bug house and even wellies to decorate themselves.

For myself, I wouldn’t mind the ‘Garden Vegetables Hamper Gift Set’ (X40133) – equally ideal for any elderly relative who want to stay active. With its wicker hamper to keep everything together, this contains all anyone would need to start growing vegetables: stainless steel trowel and fork set, windowsill propagator, jiffy modules and labels, bio-degradable pots, garden twine, ten packets of seed and a vegetable planner. Alternative hampers have been put together for growing vegetables on the patio (X40134) or one featuring annual and perennial flowers rather than vegetables (X40132); there's even a children's version (X40131).

Oh, and how about this ingenious little device? The 'Nutscene Snippet Twine Set' (X40146) clips onto your clothing and allows you to snip twine without the need to carry scissors or knife. British, too, as are many of the tools in the Dobies Christmas Gift catalogue.

There’s a whole lot more on offer in the 48-page catalogue, but if you’re still stuck for ideas, don’t forget you can order personalized gift vouchers (X40214) which can be sent direct with your personal message.

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