I love presents - especially, if I'm being honest, the ones I buy myself. So I decided The Plant Ledger needed a Christmas gift guide, but one with my own twist on the usual protocols: I wanted to reflect in some small way that the cost of living crisis and climate change may be reshaping the way many of us 'do' Christmas.
So, for every brand new item I suggest, there are one of two alternatives: something secondhand that you could pick up on eBay, in a charity shop, auction house or junk shop, or a budget alternative that's around the £5-£10 mark. I'm not listing any plants, because buying living things for Christmas is fraught with difficulties, but why not get a gift voucher for your loved one's favourite plant shop?
Transparency note: no one is paying me to suggest these products, but a few of them are things I have received as free gifts from the company concerned. I'll make that clear in the description of that item with #GIFTED in red so you are in no doubt.
If you make as much mess on the floor as I do when caring for houseplants, this is a great buy. This tarp is made from vegan, renewable materials by sustainable designers Shibui Ilk Studio in Dorset, and comes in honey or black. It rolls away for storage between uses, and is water resistant and wipable. £22 each.
These beautiful trays are fully sealed and watertight, so they'd make very stylish pebble trays, you could use them for Christmas table centrepieces or as windowsill protectors for plant displays: they also come in brass.£42.99 for a set of four.
Not-so-new option: Copper trays frequently pop up in secondhand shops offline and on: they come ready-patinated and often date from the Arts and Crafts era. This is my current favourite on eBay.
I am a fan of a technique called wick watering: so I'm excited to see a new pot range bringing this concept to a wider audience. This pot comes as a flatpack for you to build (watch this video first) and is made from recycled polypropylene. The pots pictured above are my faves: the Saved From The Sea range are made from salvaged recycled fishing nets. Pot prices start at £14.#GIFTED
I can't imagine anything more satisfying as a festive project than putting this kit together and showing it off to family, friends and social media! It takes an estimated 10 hours, and is suitable for 14+. (This video shows the construction process to inspire or possible scare you!) £39.99 each - currently preordering for late Nov.
I love the look of this kit, and the propagation discs and snips it contains could be game changers for your plans of filling the world with cuttings. It comes in a large letter postal box, so makes the ideal fuss-free gift to send to a planty friend far away. £17.50 each.
And to finish, three more stocking fillers under a tenner...
Essex-based Megan Webb is a carnivorous plant specialist who's raising awareness about pitcher plants, Pinguiculas and more. you'll find her writing about this fascinating group of plants on her blog The Carnivorous Greenhouse - and you can see Megan's collection in all its glory on her YouTube channel Carnivorous_plant_girl and on Insta at @carnivorous_plant_girl.
Sow and sow Silver Roots have launched their own Houseplant Seed Starting Kits, including a glass dome (customisable for an extra tenner), a hand-painted pot, a packet of seeds, substrate and a grow guide. Kits are £30 and there are four choices of species for the seeds including Hypoestes and Nepenthes.
Touchy feely New research is shining light on how the sensitive plant, Mimosa pudica, protects itself from predators by folding foliage when touched. You can read a summary on the New Scientist website and the whole paper is here. (This is a really easy and fun plant to grow from seed - packets available from Mr Fothergill's.)
November 24: Aeonium collector Stephen White is giving a virtual talk for Plant Heritage entitled Aeonium in habitat and cultivation from 6.30-8pm. Livestream tickets £4 (free for Hampshire Plant Heritage members), details here.
November 27: Sheffield Plant Swap is hosting a swap from 11am-midday at 74th Oak Street Scout Group, Sheffield. Bring plants for setup at 10.30am. Details here. (You can listen to an episode of my podcast, on The Ledge, about the Sheffield Plant Swap here.)
November 28: The Kew Mutual Improvement Society is hosting a talk by plant hunter and gardener Tom Hart Dyke from 6-7pm at Kew's Lady Lisa Sainsbury Lecture Theatre in London. Book virtual and live tickets. Details and booking here.
Legends of the Leaf is coming!
The supporters' list for my forthcoming book is closing on October 18: if you want to preorder and make sure your name is in the book, act now. If I reach 150% of my target, I get to write an extra chapter profiling a houseplant species - wouldn't that be cool? Preorder here or on Amazon: it's out April 27 2023.