Gift giving is a personal act to me, because unless one puts some thought into the exchange, then it’s just going through the motions.
There is a lot of this at Christmas, which is why the stores are filled with frivolous, generic offerings – things to be opened and soon forgotten.
Yet it doesn’t take a lot of money or time to give a thoughtful gift.
I remember Christmas shopping for my rather grumpy grandfather back when I was 10 years old and had a $1.25 to my name.
Here was a man who already had every possible tool and widget he could possibly want, so I decided to buy him his favourite thing to eat – black olives.
My mom almost made me bring the can back to the store, but my dad said: “Let the boy choose his own gifts.
And so it was carefully wrapped and placed under the tree.
The smile on my grandfather’s face when he unwrapped his gift on Christmas morning was only surpassed by the pride I felt when he opened it up on the spot and ate every last one of them (good thing it was a small tin) in front of everyone, which taught me an important life lesson: gifts should be personal.
Gardeners, in general, are no different than my grandfather: some of them can be difficult to please, but when confronted by even the smallest of thoughtful gifts, they often succumb to the honest gesture of love or friendship.
Those with a wry sense of humour will appreciate Beverley Nichols’ Down the Garden Path (reprinted by Timber Press), a riotous account of a ramshackle garden estate and its new owner, written with such deadpan insight to put one in mind of our own Des Kennedy.
Next on the list is something new in amaryllis: self-contained waxed bulbs that require no watering and come with their own stand.
The bulbs essentially flower on stored energy and need only a well-lit location, so there is no need for messy soil or watering, making it an ideal gift for people in nursing homes or those with limited mobility.
For the pink-lovers in your family, there is the new Princettia poinsettias, which have unabashedly embraced this once taboo Christmas colour.
Now those wearers of pink toques, scarves and ski jackets will have a house plant to proudly proclaim their favourite hue when they get home and take off their bold colour statements.
These poinsettias are no different than their red and white counterparts, except they seem to be a little more compact in nature.
Last on my list of gift ideas for gardeners are Christmas-themed fairy gardens, which are a favourite of both boys and girls.
This is one trend that I thought would have run its course a few years back, but still seems to be going strong, expanding into seasonal themes such as Halloween and Christmas.
Any small, shallow container can be used for planting (although many custom-made planters exist) with your choices for features or figurines being endless, including elves, reindeer, Santa, North Pole signs, sleighs and little workshops that actually light-up.
Add a few small houseplants for colour and you’ve got your own little world to take care of which becomes a winter wonderland with a light top-dressing of white gravel.
Of course, you don’t have to limit yourself to garden-related gifts, and by way of example, I always give Matt, my old nursery assistant, an unusual beer that neither of us has tasted (last year’s was a maple-bacon brew), just to keep his palate on its toes.
Mike Lascelle is a local nursery manager and gardening author (email@example.com).