December 6, 2013

Holiday Gifts for Gardeners - Beatrix Potter Style

Beatrix Potter themed Holiday gifts!

Traditional Beech Wood Garden Riddle (Sieve) made by Hill & Sons in the UK, a product they have been manufacturing by hand since 1946. These classic riddles are classics, and if you can get one into your collection you would be in good company ( with Prince Charles, Alan Titchmarsh and Kew Gardens). They are difficult to find outside of the UK, but one can find them on the UK Amazon site.  My advice? Find a friend in the UK, have two shipped to them - they keep one, and then ship the other one to you.
Garden sieves are more likely to be found in only the most serious gardener's potting sheds, as few others know what to do with them. I find them useful for sifting compost, and when repotting bulbs in the greenhouse, but aside from those more practical uses, a nice wooden one would make a terrific harvesting basket in which to dry garlic or onions, or to trug around produce back from the vegetable garden. Of course, if you have a rabbit or sparrow problem….

More ideas below, plus, even more here on HGTV Gardens, who so kindly featured my blog on their Garden Blogger Gift Guide post! How cool is that!

Guy Wolff pots come the closest to those seen in most every Beatrix Potter garden illustration.
One can never have too many of these treasures.
 Let's face it - we can never have enough pots made by the talented potter GUY WOLFF!. Of course, there is his son, BEN WOLFF, equally talented, and a handful of other potters making similar pots. I can't help myself each year, and try to buy the biggest GUY WOLFF pot that I can, for they are not only important American made artwork, they are highly collectable and cherished by any and all gardeners. One can buy original hand made pots by Guy via his website, or one can purchase less expensive ones made by casts, or by other potters in his guild worldwide.

Click below for more:

Variegated Zonal Geraniums (Pelargonium) were popular in the late 19th Century.

Many illustrations from Beatrix Potter include period zonal geraniums or zonal pelargoniums, so popular during the turn of the century with their colored foliage and variegation.  Some illustrations clearly show Pelargonium 'Mrs. Pollock which took the gardening world by storm in England when it was introduced in 1880, 'Santa Maria' with its green foliage edged in cream and 'Wilhem Langguth' or Flower of Spring'. Surely she would have had 'Crystal Palace ten as well as 'Dolly Varden'
Heirloom Geraniums from Goodwin Creek Gardens $5.50

Pelargoniums with variegated foliage were all-the-rage during Beatrix Potters lifetime. The appear in many of her illustrations - notice the small pots. Pelargoniums were often grown in clay and sand, in pots no larger than 4 inches, and it is how I now grow my variegated forms. Lean and loamy, with sharp sand. No peat, and very little fertilizer.

As a side note, and for a slightly related gift inspired by these pelargoniums, the book THE SMALLEST KINGDOM by Mike and Liz Fraser also features some illustrations of pelargoniums, and in particular, it include this illustration from Mrs. Potter's Peter Rabbit.  A spectacular book for any garden or plant lover's library, it is available from the Kew Book shop as well as Amazon, and it would appeal to a wide range of people including botanists, historians, botanical art fans, naturalists as well as bulb collectors.

Burnt Brown Cedar Barrels by Shine Company $116.99 - $159.00

I grew up with a burnt cedar barrel ( our geese used to keep swimming in one as we did not have a pond). The barrel lasted nearly 90 years, as it was my grandfathers, and it held water year round. Another investment piece, these are not those whisky barrels one buys at the local garden center for $20. These are hand made by craftsman, and certainly become better with age.
Robin's and Rabbit's sold separately.

Colonial Wooden Wheel Barrow by Shine Company $66.99

From Mrs. Tiggy Winkle to The Tales of Peter Rabbit, cedar and chestnut wooden wheelbarrows are Mr. McGregor's go-to choice for hauling everything from freshly pulled weeds to clay pots to and from the potting shed. He even used them when harvesting carrots and cabbages. We had one of these growing up, and I can say that it has lasted nearly 50 years.

Flopsy, Mopsy and Cotton-tail all had bread, milk and blackberries for supper. 
Don't you deserve some too?

Blackberry,  Currant and Gooseberry Plants from Backyard Fruit Nursery $23.99 and up.
A gift certificate for a berry garden might be the perfect gift that can provide a family you love with a lifetime of happy memories. Go all English with a selection of gooseberries, varios currants, blackberries or black and red raspberries.

Fuchsia's trained as standards were often a subject of Ms. Potter, although they rarely show up in her published works.
Imagine pots of these in your garden next summer - order them in a few months from EGG and I GARDENS, for they have dozens and dozens of new and ancient varieties.

The traditional Haws English Watering Can, introduced in 1885 is exactly what your garden, or your best friends garden needs this coming year.  Check out these, and many other fine Haws Watering Cans  here. Mix and match the brass roses and be sure to consider an all copper can for perfect patina.

Camomile Tea – MEADOW by Smith Teamaker from William Sonoma

Have you nibbled on just a few too many gooseberry tarts or bowls of fresh cream and berries this Holiday season? Then perhaps you need a nice tuck into bed, and a warm cup of tummy-soothing camomile tea. SMITH TEAMAKER makes not only an original blend called MEADOW, they even have attractive packaging, nice enough to display on your potting bench or cupboard.

Marta McDowell's new book from Timber Press might be another option. Just published in November.
I can't wait to get my hands on a copy.

( Timber Press)


  1. how are you ordering from Crocus? They seem to deliver only within the UK

    1. Kate, thanks again, as you can see, I updated the link and the source. Best - Matt

  2. HI Kate, Oh, I'm sorry, I should have made that clearer. Usually I call the company and they can deliver with an additional fee, but we have to remember that nearly half of my readers are in the UK, so I try to include some links for the EU. My trick is, when I want something from the UK, I have it shipped to friends there, and then they mail it - it often save money. Let me see if I can find a source here in the US for you, and sometimes, these sieves are available on eBay, delivered from the UK. Thanks for your comment!

  3. Matt, I loved this post. You took the gifts for Gardeners and turned it upon its head. Smart, especially since the new Beatrix Potter book is out. BTW, I ordered it, and as soon as I finished my required work for the season, I am cracking it open. I've never seen those wheelbarrows. Wonderful. Loved your explanation of the zonal geraniums too. Hope all is well there and that your dad is feeling better.~~Dee

  4. Thanks so much, Dee. I hope your you and your family have a safe, healthy and wonder Christmas!


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