I enjoyed researching this story, as I don't often peruse websites for garden gift-giving. My go-to presents for special days are often plants (not a surprise). Plants go on giving, providing they receive a little TLC in return.
Many of our family members live in other parts of the country, so online stores are a great help. My sister, who just celebrated her birthday, lives in rural Hawke's Bay. She loves hydrangeas, so I picked delicate white hydrangea 'Annabelle', plus divinely-scented Rosa rugosa 'Blanc Double de Coubert' from Wairere Nursery in Waikato's Gordonton. They provide fast and efficient service - for once a present from me arrived on time.
Here are some more top picks to help you find something special this season.
Classic garden inspiration
Earlier in the year we made a whistle-stop visit to the Auckland Home Show. One of the stalls where I lingered was garden-ware supplier The Company Shed, based in Christchurch. I fell in love with a shiny red watering can with a brass rose perfect for watering delicate seedlings.
These have been manufactured in Britain by Haws Watering Cans since 1886. I'm a sucker for well-designed tools and old-school quality. It is a joy to use: it is slim-line and so much easier to carry. The store also stocks New Zealand-made coppiced poplar and willow wooden trugs for carrying your harvest in style.
Easy-to-mail gifts include a tool for moulding newspaper into seedling pots, fruit picker heads, potting sieves and a multi-socket device for building a crop protection cage.
Also check out the quirky Window Feeder, a clear tray which suctions to a window pane for observing birds feeding at close range - likely to be much more entertaining than watching daytime TV.
For the love of nature
The Garden Party is a treasure trove of affordable present ideas and gadgets. One of its birdfeeder designs (which would make a good stocking-filler) is made with recycled plastic from plant pots. It had a metal prong for threading a piece of fruit or bread for the birds - and is packaged in a slim, easy-to-mail box.
The Garden Party has a few fun kids' options for getting busy in the garden, from child-sized gardening gloves, growing kits, and cute little hand tools too.
Books are never out of fashion
When Touchwood Books was located on Auckland's High St it was my go-to shop. I picked up a couple of my favourite gardening bibles there. Fortunately, the store still exists online and carries a wide range of new and secondhand titles, from garden design to pruning, rose growing, kids' gardening and everything in between.
A well-thumbed book of mine is Louis Glowinski's Complete Book of Fruit Growing in Australia, which covers a wide range of fruit and nut species including unusual food forest type plants. Much of the book applies to New Zealand's climate.
John Seymour's Self Sufficient Gardener is another classic, with a new edition now available. I bought one of my must-have books at Touchwood - Bill Mollison's Permaculture - A Designer's Manual. This hardback is not in stock at present at Touchwood but is available at Amazon.
Another book to catch my attention was Integrated Forest Gardening: The Complete Guide to Polycultures and Plant Guilds in Permaculture Systems, by Wayne Weiseman.
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Well worth investigating is the Country Trading Company. The shop, on the Mapua wharf near Nelson, was one of my favourites. It felt like walking into a shop from yesteryear, with a range of supplies for home-made cheeses, preserving, heritage seeds and trees, and chook-keeping.
The wharf shop has closed but the company operates a mail-order business at new premises in Ruby Bay. This site includes supplies for those keen to make their own presents. Here's a good suggestion from their blog: instead of a cut pine Christmas tree, buy a potted pine nut tree. Plant it out later - in six years or so you'll be enjoying home-made pesto.