By Candy Venning
Suggestions from a Landscape designer and avid gardener on what to buy for the ‘planty’ people in your life!
A Family Membership or donation to the Royal Botanical Gardens – Always my first choice. You’ll have access to discounted classes and lectures, first pick at ticketed events, year-round access to beautiful trails and free parking. It’s also just great having a membership to the most beautiful and fun club around, where other members include reptiles, deer and countless birds. RBG monitors and stewards over 1,100 hectares in a variety of habitats on three nature sanctuaries: the wetlands of Hendrie Valley, the Escarpment properties and Cootes Paradise, the largest and most diverse habitat area, wrapping around the tip of Lake Ontario. At the most recent count, 50 identified at-risk-species rely on Royal Botanical Garden habitats and the RBG relies on heavily on donations and memberships to fund it.
Gift card with a twist – If you love someone and you want to spoil them – a gift card for a local nursery and a promissory note to plant / install the shrub tree or perennials they choose. Bonus points for driving them there!
Hori Hori knife – My absolute favourite hand tool! We’ll never go back to using a trowel again. The hard steel blade easily lifts weeds out of cracks, cuts through stubborn roots, is excellent for planting smaller bulbs – I should do my own version of a ‘slap chop’ commercial for this truly handy tool!
Secateurs – Japanese ones at specialty shops or online but ya can’t go wrong with the classic, standard Felco #2 pruners. This is my number one gripe with doing some light gardening at a cottage or my dad’s place, he buys the cheap-ola ones and they’re terrible to work with (I bring my own everywhere now). Felco are available at Lee Valley and in most garden centers.
The watering cans by ‘Haws’ via Lee Valley are not cheap but they are a beautiful and well made, ‘lifetime gift’. The small, indoor version is really a joy to use for refilling vases or pots up on shelves as the long narrow spout navigates easily into tight spots. A larger, or second hand one that functions similarly might be found on marketplace, a worn patina is entirely appropriate in a watering can and it’s the functionality combined with good looks that makes it a great gift.
Trug o’ tings –a gift ‘Trug’* that may include some festive greenery (cedar swags, a posy of eucalyptus, a grapevine wreath, some pinecones) an Amaryllis or small houseplant. New gloves, my faves are the colorful rubbery coated, cotton ones. Seeds of easy to grow annuals like Marigolds, Nasturtiums or Sunflowers for kids (direct sow in sun late spring) or slightly more advanced native plant seeds for Winter sowing (for more on this, see last month’s article) and a pot or container of dry organic fertilizer (I like Acti-sol which also really helps to keep squirrels out of containers when sprinkled on top) Copper Plant tags from Lee valley work well indoors and out – no plastic, no fading and classy. Jute string is neutrally coloured, biodegradable and therefore suitable for tying up things in the garden without being ostentatious, without harming wildlife, also used so plants CAN escape (unlike plastic that cuts through limbs and vines if not removed in time).
An online garden consult – suitable for anyone in Canada – yes this is a service I provide and as such I won’t go into detail but if you know someone struggling with a big or small space including balconies or native plant converts – send me an email or find me on Instagram @vennigardens for more info.
TRUG *a shallow oblong basket made of strips of wood, traditionally used for carrying garden flowers and produce.