Secret Santa Dreaming

dscn2469“The best Christmas present I ever had was a ton of well- rotted manure deposited on my driveway” – this from Janet who is thinking longingly of what Father Christmas might bring her this year.

“Mine was a whole day with a young bloke.”

We all stare at Mary who is over 70 and, we thought, happily married to Reg. “It was like he had a hinge in his back. He kept going all day, doing things Reg hadn’t been able to do for years.” Mary looks wistful. I think we are still talking about gardening?

It is Friday and we are in class i.e. around my kitchen table, having our Christmas celebration followed by lunch in a restaurant organised  by Angie. And we are all talking about what we would like as a horticultural Christmas present this year.

The tradition is that, for this last class, we each bring a Secret Santa present to the value of no more than £5, and in amongst the games of gardening Pictionary, gardening  charades (you try doing “chitting pea seeds” elegantly) and the quiz (“which TV gardener doesn’t own a TV? Answer: Charlie Dimmock), we draw lots for each of them. The excitement is huge and interspersed in this week’s blog, I’ll show you some of the presents ,as they might give you some creative gift ideas of your own. I’ll start with this:dscn2519Yes, dried meal worms! Excellent for the birds!dscn2520

And this one is great for those who like the thrift of making your own biodegradeable pots from newspapers:dscn2527

For my own Secret Santa inspiration, I went to visit Matt at his emporium David Gavin on Burton Road. The window display was a sheer delight this year:dscn2474

And inside, there was a wonderful collection of kitsch baubles and decorations as well as the usual covetable decorative objects that I always end up buying.dscn2465dscn2467dscn2466

These Enid Blyton books are brilliant inexpensive presents!:


I have a thing about birds, so I love these parrots climbing up the bookcase:dscn2477

Eventually I found this little tea light holder which would look lovely hanging from a branch in the garden and, as it was only £4, ideal Secret Santa material. Sorted:dscn2481

Here are all the Secret Santas hidden away in my living room waiting for lots to be drawn  by the class.dscn2489

“One of my worst Christmas presents was a huge box of over 1000 bulbs” says Bron. We all look incredulous. “I opened it on Christmas day and found that they had all started to rot.” She explained. “So there was nothing else for it, but to abandon the Christmas dinner and all go outside and spend the day getting them in the ground.” Now there’s a dedicated gardener for you!dscn2484

A loveley garden notebook:dscn2499

Helleborus niger:


Wooden trough with pots,compost and seeds:


That tealight from David Gavin:


Tea and biscuits at half time and then we move on to the Fantasy Secret Santas which are often more fun than the actual presents. For this, each person has to write down a fantasy present where money is no object. We then put them in a hat and draw lots. Fantasy presents have included;

“You have been given the renowned garden designer Tom Stuart- Smith to come up with a redesign for your own garden, and £250,000 with which to implement it. Any money left over, can be used by you to visit gardens anywhere in the world as part of your research”. Nice.

Amazing what people fantasise about- this year we had the whole range,from going back in time to live at Sissinghurst with Vita Sackville-West (presumably being seduced by her in her Tower), to………a wormery?!

Only one year, I forgot to tell the class that the Fantasy Secret Santas were to be horticultural based (I assumed they’d know!). The first person to pick one out of the hat that year, read out:

“You are alone with George Clooney on his Italian island retreat and he only has eyes for you.After a romantic dinner for two he…….”

We never did find out who wrote that one!dsc_0013-2dsc_0016-2

Happy Christmas everyone!


  1. You will never guess what I’m getting for Christmas! Chickens! Actually I’m getting rented chickens. Check out my blog if you have time! Best gift ever. No harm, no fowl.


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