So what is the gardener in your life receiving for Christmas?
Have there been any subtle hints recently? Or perhaps it’s already bought, wrapped and tucked away out of sight?
In the event of such an important purchase being left until the last minute, which is surely not the case, perhaps this fellow can help with a few ideas.
Indoor pot plants long associated with yuletide are on display everywhere so it’s simply a matter of pay, pick up and go.
Colourful and long-lasting, given a little care, they represent good value for money, but with this gift comes the responsibility of regular maintenance and keeping it alive.
If you are selecting from a group of plants showing lots of bloom, seek out the specimen with a balanced shape whose flower buds are just opening.
There are lots of hardy, pot-grown perennial shrubs for sale. A dwarf or slow-growing type that could stand in a patio or yard, perhaps even be transferred to the garden eventually, would make a joyful present.
The thought came last week as I examined a container-grown choisya covered in bright red berries.
Other very acceptable gifts in the potted plant section would be the long-lasting phalaenopsis orchid, which is at home in any well-lit window, or the hippeastrum, in a ready-to-grow pack.
The latter comprises an amaryllis lily bulb in a presentation box with pot, compost and growing instructions. You moisten the compost before it’s used to fill the pot, then stand the bulb on top and press it gently into place.
It’s fascinating, watching a shoot emerge and grow up to 30cm before large trumpet flowers appear.
Gardening tools for every occasion are instantly accessible and therefore a possibility as last-minute buys, but it does help if the specific interests of the intended beneficiary are known.
A vegetable enthusiast might appreciate the fork or trowel that catches your eye. Similarly, secateurs are such a useful gift for general gardening, but they need to be handled to check for comfort before purchase.
Knee pads and gardening gloves, labels, indelible ink pen and packets of seeds, seen individually as gardening sundries, could easily become stocking-fillers or form the basis for a lucky-dip package.
Information technology has revolutionised access to gardening knowledge. At the click of a mouse you have the answer to almost any problem, and software exists for a diversity of subjects, from garden design to fruit growing.