by Candy Venning

Hmmmm…. What to get that gardener on your list – or perhaps ‘wanna gardener’ or maybe just thinking about becoming a gardener while collecting houseplants kinda’ gardener?

A family Membership to the Royal Botanical Gardens – supporting beautiful trails, research, and courses, always having free parking…it’s a fabulous gift, like having a membership to the most beautiful and fun club around.

Garden ‘forms’ – if you can find them – these are shapes (either whimsical or geometric) often in metal, to train plants up or within. Most common are the ‘Obelisk’ shapes or ‘Tuteurs’ that fit inside a pot or large/taller forms to go in a garden with the ‘feet’ planted or staked down – fun for growing veggies in raised beds or clematis in a sunny spot where you want some height but aren’t willing to plant a tree (trees are wonderful in every way – but also cast shade and sun may be lacking in your urban oasis) If you know a carpenter or are handy you could make or have them made to measure in wood.

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 to install the shrub tree or perennials they choose. Bonus points for driving them there!

Hori Hori knife – my absolute favourite hand tool! Will never go back to using a trowel again.

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 centres.

Gloves – there can never really be enough gloves – my faves are the rubbery coated, cotton ones – grippy and not sweaty while stretchy to accommodate different sized hands. They give me superpowers when I need to pull something rooty out and prevent splinters when handling old woody stuff but nothing really stops rose thorns. (so don’t bother with rose gloves)

Basket o’ tings –a gift basket that may include some festive greenery (cedar swags, a posy of eucalyptus, a grapevine wreath, some pinecones) a small houseplant with the aforementioned gloves. 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’ (more on this next month) and a pot or container of organic fertilizer (I like Acti-sol which also really helps to keep squirrels out of containers when sprinkled on top). Jute string which is neutrally coloured, biodegradable and therefore suitable for tying up things in the garden without being ostentatious, harming wildlife, also used so plants CAN escape (unlike plastic that cuts through limbs and vines if not removed in time)

The watering cans by ‘Haws’ via Lee Valley are not cheap but they are lovely and well made. The indoor version is really a joy to use for refilling vases in place or reaching into tiny spots as the long, small spout can get into tight spots. A larger, second hand one that looks similar could possibly be found on marketplace – a worn patina is entirely appropriate in a watering can.

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.