Seasonal offerings from Irish small businesses will make a special present this Christmas
A few Fridays back I had the privilege of representing the gardening and outdoor living sectors on a special edition of RTÉ’s Late Late Show. The episode was dedicated to small businesses who had adapted their way of trading through this challenging year in innovative and creative ways.
And over the course of the few days, I gained an understanding of how important it is to support local by promoting and shopping local.
All the traders had something seasonal to offer... so as we are beginning to consider gifts for Christmas, I’m delighted to present some of the Late Late ideas here for you!
Oisín eile is the brainchild of florist Mags Riordan, West Cork. Until Covid hit, she ran a successful Cork flower farm supplying beautiful blossoms to weddings and events. It was devastating to have her crop looking it’s best but all occasions cancelled. So Mags changed her operation, went online and BumbleBee Flower Farm was reborn. Oisín eile is her seasonal offer: it’s a wonderful do-it-yourself kit for making a beautiful Christmas wreath. Along with foliage and materials, it comes with a video tutorial. A fun indoor project to do with the children. Priced at €75, buy it from bumblebeeflowerfarm.ie
Air plant decorations
Air plants are botanical curiosities — they don’t need any soil to grow. In their natural habitat, they hang from trees and absorb moisture and nutrients from their environment. This makes them very versatile as house decorations and airplantsireland.ie has some unique design and display ideas for beautiful gifts, combining them with shells, copper, and macramé. Priced from €13, they are easy to care for, needing a good soak of water every couple of weeks.
Meanwhile, Cathal Ryan from Kildare has come up with A Life Tree — it’s a gift box that contains an acorn, compostable pot and planting guide. What a beautiful way to mark a celebration or commemorate someone and, of course, to plant our most magnificent native tree. Priced €19.95, buy it at shopcountykildare.ie/store/a-life-tree-athy
Rosemarie Durr is a potter in Kilkenny who creates beautiful hand thrown ceramics. Her bird feeders are made from stoneware clay with powder blue glaze finish (€25). There are also delightful terracotta ornamental cane toppers and wall pots. rosemariedurr.com
Hanna Van Aelst is a willow weaver and basket maker based in Tipperary. And on the Late Late I showed some of her beautiful bird feeders. Priced at €35, they make the perfect winter gift for anyone interested in gardening or nature. Buy from The Irish Design Shop, 41 Drury St, D2 or online at irishdesignshop.com/pages/gift-boxes.
Hopeless Botanics, meanwhile, is a business born out of the pandemic. Erin and Aoife had a dream and in summer 2020 they decided to go for it. The dream was to sell houseplants and they started out doing pop-up shops in Dublin 8, first at the Fumbally Stables, and then at Two Pups Café on Francis Street.
They’re trying to do things a bit differently using recycled materials for packaging and reusing or recycling all packaging that they receive. Their plants are sourced from a range of growers across Europe, and they only buy in plants that are high-quality and varieties that they absolutely love. With a huge love for Dublin, they’re working hard to create something they are incredibly proud of, and that can be enjoyed by fellow plant nuts. So, they’ll deliver beautiful houseplants to your door if you live in the capital. Prices vary; see hopelessbotanics.ie
Elsewhere, Boombright (€79.99) is both a light and a speaker. It’s waterproof so can be used both indoors and outdoors and brightens up the evenings with its ever-changing lights and music of your choice connected via Bluetooth. I use mine every day. By Niall Duffy, Cavan, see boombright.ie.
Cork Rooftop Farm developed an inner-city market garden and have just lunched a subscription service. For 20 weeks from summer 2021, they’ll make weekly deliveries to your door of the freshest, locally-grown, nutritious produce. A sample delivery may include lettuce, carrots, beet, kale, spring onions, pea shoots and eggs! For more information and prices, visit corkrooftopfarm.ie.