Gardeners can be particular to buy for, especially if you’re not familiar with their growing space. But when you’re looking to win the gift game with somebody who loves gardening, but doesn’t have masses of room, it increases the challenge considerably.
As a balcony gardener and a notoriously difficult person to buy presents for, I’m fairly sure there’s something in this list for the keen and curious container gardener.
1. Bottle top waterers (£2.25, Gardening Naturally)
There is little room in my one-bedroom flat for watering cans – mostly because every spare surface is taken up by houseplants. These waterers are a genius fix for anyone short on space, and make good use of the seemingly endless supply of plastic bottles I’ve got lying around. Perfect stocking filler.
2. Burgon & Ball mini-snips (£5.99 Burgon & Ball)
I’m fairly minimalist in the tools I keep, but find snips essential for precision deadheading that doesn’t sabotage other parts of the plant – which can happen when one is dangling over a balcony. This handsome pair is excellent (and I use their child’s trowel by choice, too – it’s the perfect size for filling smaller flowerpots).
3. Gardening magazine subscriptions they won’t have read before (£20 - £40, various)
Oodles of new, scrumptious publications have cropped up in recent years that look at horticulture in a whole new way. While a subscription to Hortus will enliven the mind of any new or established gardener (quarterly, for £38 per year), photography lovers will devour the award-winning Rakesprogress (quarterly, for £40 per year) while Pleasuregarden (£20 per issue) is made for coffee table prowess.
4. Urbalive Worm Composter (£115 - £149, Wiggly Wigglers)
Nothing says Christmas like live invertebrates. Joking aside, composting in urban spaces can prove nightmarish: food waste can be a vermin trap and small gardens offer little space for compost bins, let alone anything more adventurous. This award-winning Czech design is now stocked in the UK and promises a change for the better: a handsome, self-contained unit that can be kept inside or out and will take a variety of compostable goods which, thanks to the inhabitant worms, will be transformed into worm tea (excellent fertiliser) and compost.
5. The Smart Garden (£39.95 - £129.95, Click and Grow)
Hydroponics units to help space-starved gardeners grow fresh herbs inside have been around for a little while now. Ikea has a fairly complicated range of the things, and Seed Pantry launched Grow Pod a couple of years ago. The Smart Garden takes that technology a step further and adds light and seed capsules to minimise the mess even further and make gains on growth – all in a neat, stylish box. It could be the perfect piece of kit to get even horticultural sceptics involved.
6. Sneeboer Dibber (£29, Wood & Meadow)
Confession: I don’t use a dibber, but if I had one of these I probably would. As a balcony gardener, I’m all too familiar with burrowing around in containers that have to work hard all year round – and tools like this would make it easier. When space is at a premium, it’s likely that tools will be on display. When they look as stylish as this, that’s really not a problem.
7. Bergamot + Rosemary Hand Balm (£26, Honest)
There are endless gardener’s hand creams out there, but their homespun packaging can look out of place in an urban home. This one is delightfully minimalist and comes recommended by Botany, one of the first design-led plant stores to crop up in East London. Rosemary is anti-bacterial and anti-fungal, bergamot has deodorising properties and the shea butter base will help to refresh skin left dry by hard work.
8. Conpot concrete planters, (from £20, Conpot)
These days it is hardly a struggle to find a concrete planter – any plant design shop worth its salt will stock them, and there are tons on Etsy. To sort the wheat from the chaff, I recommend Conpot, a London-based company that were among the first to make planters out of concrete and who have finessed the art. Furthermore, houseplants manage to survive in them without drainage holes with the help of a layer of drainage stones. One for the aesthete.
9. Ferm plant box (from £59, Ferm)
A lack of windowsills in a property can render houseplant ownership redundant – or at least chaotic. For those with no outdoor space, plants require water- and soil- tolerant receptacles to make a statement. This, in my book, is the most elegant solution: wipe-clean, in a range of colours and heights and slick enough to not interrupt the beauty of the plants themselves. Father Christmas, take note.
10. Seed starter pack (from £26, Seed Pantry)
Perfect for someone right at the start of their gardening journey – which is where I was when I discovered Seed Pantry. Providing for the rookie grower is at the heart of what this company does. Present your giftee with a starter pack – which include pots, seeds, instructions and other essentials for growing edibles - and you’ll be giving green-fingered enthusiasm the best support. The herb one works for people with no outdoor space.
For more urban gardening follow Alice on Instagram.com/noughticulture. She is the author of How to Grow Stuff: No stress gardening for beginners.