Gardening: A bright idea for mothers

By Meg Liptrot

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Make the garden shine and light up Mum's day, says Meg Liptrot

Camellias add charm to the garden. Photo / Meg Liptrot
Camellias add charm to the garden. Photo / Meg Liptrot

It's Mothers' Day today and, if you have been otherwise occupied and left it to the last minute, I've compiled some ideas to help. If you're already sorted, save these ideas for an upcoming birthday or Christmas present, or even a whole family present. Garden-related gifts often go on giving, or make gardening easier and more fun.

A flower to remember you

Give your mum a plant she can put in her garden and that will be flowering each Mother's Day. This will remind her of you. Camellias are long-lived evergreens which suit acid soils. Some will grow into small trees, others are great for hedging or suitable for the backdrop in a border garden.

They range in colour from white, through shades of pink to scarlet and burgundy, with flower shapes that are single or complex solid doubles.

If your mother's garden has a more subtropical theme, think about giving her a hibiscus. They have a long flowering time and are still looking great now.

They also come in a flamboyant range of colours.

Gardenias are also a sure-fire winner, with their rich, heady sent and white waxy flowers. Perfect in a pot, outdoors, too, as are Cymbidium orchids. Or how about a small tree with pretty, colourful foliage such as the Japanese maple?

If you think making a purchase without her may be a bit of a risk, take her to a garden centre for lunch and surprise her. Then she gets to choose. But don't forget to help with the planting.

Gifts kids can make

Combo pot: This is an easy, fun option for kids to make for their mum. Find a broad, dish-shaped pot. Fill it with potting mix. Plant winter-flowering annuals such as pansies and calendula mixed with greens for leaf picking, such as rocket or arugula, cos lettuce, or spinach, plus leafy herbs such as parsley and coriander.

For a surprise, plant bulbs in the pot in the shape of your mother's initials or a heart. That is sure to thrill her in a couple of months' time.

Worm farm: There are many great models to suit all budgets. Get the kids to help set up the farm for their mum and you'll all have a fun day.

Tiger worms are available to buy in cylinders, ready to go. The rich vermicast is perfect fertiliser for her garden.

Give her the right tools

If your mum is a keen gardener, then quality tools make all the difference. My garden "must-haves" include Okatsune hedge shears (Japanese carbon steel).

You'll probably want to borrow them or come over to trim the hedge just to have the pleasure of using them. They come in different sizes, including smaller blades for clipping delicate topiary.

A good planting spade with a thinner, lighter blade is also a must-have, and a deep narrow trowel makes planting annuals a breeze.

Sneeboer, a Dutch tool specialist, makes hand-forged wooden handled tools which are beautiful to look at and use.

Alternatively, offer to give her existing tools a makeover.

Sharpen spades (with an angle grinder), secateurs and hedge clippers (with a diamond sharpener or wet stone), then oil. Use wire wool and vege oil on rust; clean wooden handles, then oil with a linseed/vege turps mix. If she needs one, put up a tool-hanging board with hooks in the shed.

Make her a garden

Raised beds are tops for their ease of use, particularly for anyone with reduced mobility. Mums of all ages will appreciate this one.

Building an edge on the bed to sit on makes weeding an almost pleasant activity. Raised bed kits are out there, or you can build a custom-made one, a couple of macrocarpa sleepers high.

Use untreated wood where possible, particularly if you are growing edibles.

Add growing structures to the bed for climbing flowers or edibles. Sweetpeas give a romantic cottage garden feel, and are wonderful cut flowers. Plant or sow these now for spring.

Sweetpea vines have tendrils, so ensure you fasten chicken wire or similar to the structure for them to grow up.

A garden voucher

I made a voucher for my granny and spent an afternoon pruning an overgrown, rambling rose in her garden. Think of jobs that are a bit more of a drag to do but will lift her spirits. Scrub paths, prune overgrown shrubs or trees, cut the hedge.

How to:

• Find some thick, textured paper. Watercolour paper is best as it doesn't dimple when wet.

• Cut into a rectangle then score the edges with a ruler and the back of a knife, then tear to create a soft edge. Make strong black tea, brush the paper with it then blend to a soft colour around the edges.

• If you have ink or paint, make leaf prints on the voucher in a soft colour. Allow to dry.

• With a little flair and an inky pen (or dip pen), write "Mother's Day Garden Voucher", the date, the expiry date (to encourage her to use it), the amount of time, a thoughtful message, and sign it with a flourish and a kiss.

• Use the same paper to make a simple envelope, tie together with a ribbon, and attach a flower and a sprig of scented leaves.


Tools: Okatsune -; Okatsune, Sneeboer, plus raised garden kits -

Raised beds:

Kitsets others will build for you: or


- Herald on Sunday

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