Nature’s Christmas Gifts

For those of you pondering what to give a ‘hard to shop for’ person – think nature, or more specifically a gift from your local nursery or garden centre. Most outlets have holiday hours, although if closed for the off-season you can get creative making your own gift certificate. It might not be practical to gift and plant a shrub or tree now, but that’s when a gift certificate comes in handy for enjoyment when spring pops its head up.

Photo courtesy of The Creek Line House

In Ontario, Canada we have experienced our first significant snow storm. With the dramatic temperatures drop, trees have lost their vibrant fall colours and gardens are in the dormant stage. So a lack of colour greets us as we step outdoors. Getting back to my holiday gift idea of nature, it’s the perfect time to add an urn of evergreen branches, some red berry twigs, colourful Christmas balls and a gossamer ribbon to the front porch.

It seems to me a bit intimidating what with holiday baking and getting the inside decorated for the season. Thank goodness local nurseries/garden centres have created beautiful samples for you and me to choose from. Of course, if you enjoy learning a new craft, classes are available online or from your local nursery/garden centre. Basic greenery urns are available too and you can add your own colourful finds from your local discount store. Think quirky, dazzling colours and not typical additions for your container. Your front porch will come alive and be a welcome sight to all that pass by. As you are shopping for yourself think of that hard to buy person or a senior neighbour and add another urn to your shopping cart. What a wonderful, thoughtful gift you are giving!

If you are thinking a gift certificate, suggest to your recipient they purchase an allergy-friendly plant, whether it be a flowering plant, shrub or tree. Here are just a few favourites of mine chosen for visual interest and many attract butterflies and bees for pollination to your garden.

Common Name (Cultivar) Botanical/Scientific Name Type (Plant, Shrub or Tree) OPALS Ranking
Bee balm Monarda didyma Flowering plant 3
Bellflower Campanula Flowering plant 1
Bleeding heart Dicentra spectabilis Flowering plant 4
Garden phlox Phlox paniculata Flowering plant 3
Shasta daisy Leucanthemum x superbum Flowering plant 4 – doubles, 6 – singles
Flowering quince Chaenomeles spp. Shrub 2
Fragrant snowball Viburnum x carlcephalum Shrub 3 – 5, varies
Mock orange Philadelphus ‘Snowbelle’ Shrub 3 – doubles, 4 – singles
Rose of Sharon Hibiscus syriacus Shrub 3
Crabapple Malus x moerlandsii Tree 3 – 4, varies
Japanese maple Acer palmatum Tree 5
Katsura Cercidiphyllum Tree f = 1, m = 6
Maple Acer spp. Tree f = 1, m = 10
Tulip tree Liriodendron tulipifera Tree 3


f = female, m = male plants

Doubles = double-flowering varieties; Singles = single-flowering varieties

According to OPALS ranking: 1 = low and 10 = high, very allergenic

For the gardener or wannabe gardener, a copy of the Veterans Gardening Guide would make an ideal holiday gift. The book is filled with easy to follow gardening tips and suggestions for the perfect allergy-friendly plants. Your gardener recipient can spend the cold winter months planning how to reinvent their gardens. You can buy the paperback or eBook from your favourite online bookseller.

However, you celebrate the holiday season, make it extra special with a visit to your local nursery/garden centre. May your heart be filled with kindness, compassion and peace at this hectic time of year.


Photo courtesy of Reder Landscaping


Photo courtesy of Gaslight Floral Design


Happy Gardening! Janice and Peter