Once again, we’re into countdown mode and it’s time to decide what to buy the gardener in your life.
This is never easy. He/she should be able to look after a plant present you’d think, but is that too obvious a gift, akin to taking coals to Newcastle?
Perhaps gardening tools then, but is the choice too difficult?
Spades, trowels, secateurs have to sit well in the hand and that is about personal taste.
What about one-year membership of the RHS or subscription to a popular gardening weekly then?
We are really spoiled for choice.
If you’re intent on buying someone a seasonal potted plant for Christmas there is no shortage in shops and garden centres.
The advantage this has over mail ordering is that you can examine everything on display and select the best in terms of shape and performance potential.
Turn the plant around in your hands to check that it is bushy and has balanced growth.
Go for a specimen with buds just opening in preference to something in full flower because it will last longer in bloom.
The alternative is to follow up one of several offers in the national press and gardening magazines at present and hope for the best.
The beauty of this is that it can be delivered directly to the recipient as a surprise.
Whichever source is used for the plant, all you have to remember when speaking to your friends beyond Christmas is not to enquire how it is doing, let them offer the information.
Plant disasters do happen and such presents heap responsibility on the shoulders of others.
Selecting a suitable gardening tool or accessories can take longer than you think.
It can take an age to choose sensible gloves, knee pads or something as simple as a trowel.
Mine has to be fairly lightweight without being too flimsy and getting the feel of such things before buying is so important.
The following is not the best advice but, after a lifetime of practice, I hold it by the handle and throw it upwards with a flick of the wrist, then catch it by the handle after one full turn, then two.
An alternative is finding the point at which it will balance on an outstretched finger.
Juggling acts yes, but they tell me all I need to know about a tool that should give years of service.