Christmas Bookshelf plus Gifts & Treats

Some of my favourite gardening books - gifts and purchases acquired over many years.

Gardening books are always welcome at Christmas - or treat yourself! Many titles are so useful that you will want to keep them on the bookshelf and refer to them regularly. The Dobies Christmas Gift Catalogue list four titles worthy of a permanent place in a garden library – and they have packaged each with a generous quantity of free packets of Dobies seeds; excellent value.

Seeds will be from Dobies and not as shown.
‘The Complete Vegetable Gardener’ published in 2011 by The Reader’s Digest and expertly authored by Fern Marshall Bradley & Jane Courtier is subtitled “from planting to picking – the complete guide to creating a bountiful garden”; a title that is beautiful as well as productive and already by my bedside for early morning study over a cup of tea. Divided into two parts – 'Your Garden' and 'The Vegetables'   each section is sensibly subdivided into chapters. Part One covers planning; ground preparation; sowing, planting and growing; followed by harvesting and storing. Part Two divides into vegetable families: lettuce and salads, peas and beans, onions, cabbage, root and stem crops, tomatoes and ‘heat lovers’, sweetcorn, vine crops (courgettes, squash etc), perennial and annual herbs and finally, permanent plantings.

the 1-metre  VegTrug
Treat Yourself: If you lack space but still want to grow a limited supply of salads and vegetables, have a bad back or are wheelchair-bound, why not gift yourself one or more of these ‘Veg Trugs’?  The ‘V’ shape gives scope for planting different types of veg – or with more than one you could rotate crop types. The wooden structure is supplied flat-packed for home-assembly and is available in two sizes – 1 metre  (ref 581917) and 1.8m  (ref 583996). Plastic feet, a strong internal membrane and 7 packets of easy to grow veg seed complete the package.

Published this year by Hermes House, ‘The New Flower Arranger’ offers contemporary approaches to floral design, which will give those who grow flowers and shrubs new insight into what is possible. The author, Fiona Barnett, provides 150 innovative designs (traditional as well as contemporary), accompanied by over 700 fantastic images and step-by-step photographs of each display. Techniques are also provided for drying your own material, which adds another aspect to the flower arranger’s craft. Free seeds.

You may not be an avid flower arranger but what chocoholic could deny themselves – or their beloved – the beauty of a bouquet of handmade, luxury chocolate flowers? They look divine, almost too good to eat, and are made by the family firm of Guisabel from the Loire region of France. Created from pure cocoa butter rich in vitamins and minerals, choose from single flowers in edible pots to magnificent bouquets – the ‘Red Bouquet’ illustrated left has 16 chocolate flower heads and 16 handmade chocolates in shades of red and pink.

A boxed set of two titles pertaining to wildlife offers practical gardening advice for animal lovers. Published in 2012 by Anness Books with over 1,700 stunning photographic images between them, readers will soon be re-thinking their plots to be more eco-friendly. ‘How to Create a Wildlife Garden’ by Christine & Michael Lavelle does just that: complete instructions for designing and planting wildlife habitats with over 40 practical projects. Crucial reading is the chapter on the role of gardens for wildlife, plus the introductory topics on microclimates, garden soils, design principles and garden surveys, urban or otherwise. Free seeds.

Partnering the Wildlife book is ‘Attracting & Feeding Garden Birds’, edited by Jen Green. Birds enliven any garden, devour pests, but can also eat our fruit! Keep avian visitors well-provided for by making them welcome through feeders you can make yourself and what you plant in your garden. The book shows you how. Free seeds.

N.B. Please be aware that as I write (Sat 24th November), the link to the Dobies site for these books is not compatible with the titles I am writing about. I will sort the hiccup when Dobies offices re-open on Monday and post an additional blog relating to this book package. Sorry.

Need a quick bird feeder? Take a look at the Wildlife Sanctuary section of the Christmas Catalogue – the 'Bountiful Feeder' is made from woven willow complete with roof, and comes supplied with six types of highly nutritious seeds which you can top up as they are consumed. An ideal gift for children (or grandchildren) who may well be able to recognize a robin but little else!

Not sure what your loved ones or gardening friends would prefer? Opt for a Dobies of Devon Gift Voucher and ease the strain of decision-making.

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