Top 10 Useless Gardening Gifts

By Andy McIndoe

Our 10 Worst Christmas Garden Gifts

As Christmas approaches the gift brochures and supplements cascade through the letter box and fall from the Sunday papers like an early blizzard. Solutions to all you Christmas present quandaries ready at hand, persuasively described and marketed to convince you that you have made the perfect choice. Maybe you know something about their taste? Interests? Or maybe you can just choose from those wonderful broad spectrum selections compiled for stereotypes: Gifts for Gardeners. One thing is certain these selections are put together by experts that have never set foot in a garden or got dirt under their fingernails.

2 Barbecue brand
My first pick I found in Gifts for Men as well as Gifts for Gardeners and I would question its appeal to either group. It's the wonderful Barbecue branding tool. This gets less than positive comments on both US and UK sites. However I bet it sells. You have the choice of around 50 letters and spaces as I understand it. Your branding iron is assembled for you to enable you to brand your steak or slice of eggplant with your own special message. (tempting isn't it?) The ultimate in personalised cuisine. I guess everyone knows that all men do in the garden is to cut the grass and brand steaks on the barbecue.
3 Chilli Hanging basket kit
That's not strictly true because the glorious Chilli hanging basket kit also features in gardener's and men's gifts. This is a more attractive option, promIsing a basket with more glorious, glowing chillies than you could shake a jalapeño at. The chances of it looking anything like the picture are more than remote, however I suppose we are giving the dream. Tiny basket, miserable quantity of growing medium and a few chilli seeds. Put the picture on your mantelpiece - it's the best bit.
4 Paper pot maker
The Paper pot making kit is nothing new. It comes in various forms from the most basic to the deluxe models. The idea is that you can make your own paper pots from sheets of newspaper using the perfectly shaped and exquisitely crafted wooden thing. Sound ecofriendly and a great gift for those that are into recycling. Actually it will quickly find its way onto a bric a brac stall or into a reaffirmed at the local gardening club before the New Year is very old. Here it will attract smiles, comments and be a conversation piece. All is not lost!
5 String on a stick
String on a stick falls into the same category, but does rank higher on the usefulness scale. Wooden base and bobbin with a ball of string and potentially the bonus of a rustic pair of scissors ( don't worry - they won't cut anything). Not unattractive and probably every home should have one, but be careful. These are very widely available in gift shops that sell attractive land fill, so anyone with a use for string probably already has several. It wasn't a bad idea so don't despair.
6 Gardeners journal
The Gardener's Journal is something I've never seen the point of. One of those wonderful log books where you record everything: sowing dates, places you visited, good planting combination ideas, the colour of the salesman's eyes.....I suppose I'm not one to bother to record things, some do I know. I would rather have a good plain paper note book, well bound where I can write randomly. Again it is one of those things that seems like a good idea all too often. Half a dozen sitting on the bookshelf as we speak - enough said, I might spoil the surprise.
7 Designer floral gloves
I've blogged about gardening gloves before. If you are buying for a gardener buy good quality practical gloves that they will use. Designer Gardening Gloves, with lovely patterns, made of impractical fabrics that are too thick, not weatherproof, inflexible are for those that never garden and will never put them on.  If you buy a pair for anyone that gardens it tells them instantly that you clearly do not.
8 Floral garden tools
The same applies to pretty Patterned hand tools. Impractical little trowel and for sets which are decorated from the tip of the handle to the toe of the prongs and blades. Attractive to look at in the gift box maybe, hopeless to use. Another one for the raffle I'm afraid.
9 Zombie gnome
There are some pretty hideous garden ornaments out there anyway without the need to produce something that's intended to be hideous. The Zombie gnome is downright nasty. Who on earth would want that in their garden? When I saw this one I felt a rather wicked smile coming on. A lovely gift for someone with a beautiful, immaculately designed garden. Why not position it for them? My sone and his friends all loved their solar powered owls with luminous eyes so I expect they would love one. Not for the garden proud, unless of course you are wickedly envious.
10 Grow-your-own sloe gin
There have been a number of wonderful "grow your own" kits around, enabling those with little knowledge, but some interest to grow their own olives, lemons etc. these usually consist of a miserable plant, a more miserable sample of a related product and a lot of packaging and bull..... The Go Sloe - sloe growing kit is the best I've seen with 3 "sloe bushes" (native hedging whips) and a tiny bottle of sloe gin + a wooden crate that would make a handsome firelighter. Price £60, value £5.
11 Vegetable growing kit
At least the sloe growing kit doesn't pretend to be more than an overpriced gift solution that will never be used. In a way those propagator growing kits which consist of a seed tray, a plastic cover, a small bag of compost and a bundle of out of date seeds that are available in garden centres everywhere are worse. Usually claiming to offer a handsome value in free seeds they look like a bargain and useful to boot. However, would you sow carrots, parsnips and. Kohl rabi in a seed tray under a propagator lid - no.

Tasteful Alternatives

Gift certificate
Sorry if that's left you feeling desperate. If you've already bought it I'm sure he will love the barbecue branding iron. You want a constructive suggestion? Give a MyGardenSchool gift certificate and let a gardener choose his or her own course. Original, useful and certainly the best present you can give any gardener this Christmas.

Andy McIndoe

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