Garden hampers make a perfect gift

To some of us, a garden gift would be at the top of the list because a plant in a pot gives such long-lasting pleasure and cuts across the gift-giving challenges of age and gender.

What’s more, garden centres are peaceful, stress-free places in which to do your Christmas shopping and give you the opportunity to create a unique present, just by teaming a particular plant with the right container.  
Or put together a garden “hamper” of, say, some seedling herbs and flowering annuals with a bag of potting mix, a trowel and some smart gardening gloves.   

Other combinations could be an elegant pot, planted with a colourful flowering plant and some coloured stones covering the soil surface (perfect for indoors) teamed with a decorative watering can.  
Or a shrub in a tub plus some secateurs to keep it trim.  Or perhaps a citrus tree in a traditional terracotta pot with special fertiliser, some appropriate tools and a small book on citrus cultivation – or even a citrus recipe book.  

Once you start thinking in terms of garden centre “hampers” the choices are wide indeed.  Decorative garden lights, stands for growing herbs and vegetables vertically in small spaces, terrariums, miniature cactus gardens, hanging baskets planted with Christmas colour, outdoor ornaments, unusual tools and gardening gear of all kinds can be put together in a package to make personalised Christmas presents for anyone – even grandchildren.

Here are some suggestions for plants which will make good gifts this Christmas, either on their own or in combination with other garden centre goodies.

Small pots:  Gerberas, impatiens, (sun and shade-loving), marigolds, celosia, salvia, zinnia, geraniums, daisies of any kind.  All will add colour to anyone’s Christmas, especially if you match the flower colours to the pots.
Large pots/tubs:  Mandevillas and dipladenias (always a great choice for large and small spaces, climbing frames and pergolas because they flower most of the year and come in Christmas red among other colours), hydrangeas, poinsettias (these are forced so that the bracts are in colour at this time of year), fuchsias (especially the Aussie Winner Shadow Dancer series which does well in this climate), and bougainvillea.

Hanging baskets:  Calibrachoa, ivy, geraniums with a prostrate habit, alyssum, lobelia, nasturtiums, brachycome daisies, portulaca and other succulents.

If you are looking for something more substantial, to give Christmas colour in the garden for years to come, the New South Wales Christmas bush and a small red-flowering eucalyptus such as “summer red” are ideal because beyond brightening your backyard the flowers can be used in Aussie-style Christmas floral arrangements.
A very merry Christmas and happy gardening in 2018.

Julie Lake is a horticulturist and gardening writer. Visit gardenezi.com