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The easiest type of gardening for this time of year is what I term armchair gardening. Easy work this might be, but vital nonetheless.

Next to my love of gardening is my love of books, and being able to link my hobbies can be very satisfying. Mind you, I enjoy reading many many types of books, not just those inclined to the plant world. I must admit though that during the busy seasons I find myself reading the pictures rather than the texts. I console myself by stating that gardening is a very visual subject and pictures are often more helpful than words.

With Christmas looming, the headache of what present for whom is no doubt preying on your mind. In fact for many people unfortunately presents seem to be the new symbol of the Christmas season and not as it should be, but then that is a discussion for another place and another time.

Going back to the subject of books, there are so many gardening publications, both books and magazines, available in every price range that choosing can often be quite difficult. Some of my long time favourites would be The New Kitchen Garden by Anna Pavord, The Tree and Shrub Expert by Dr DG Hessayon, How To Make A Forest Garden by Patrick Whitefield, The Cottage Garden by Christopher Lloyd and Richard Bird, and Tree Wisdom by Jacqueline Memory Paterson, to name a few. I did say that I was a bookworm!

Of course if you are not interested in reading about gardening you can always watch a garden DVD. There are so many DVDs and videos available these days, ranging from basic gardening principles to more technical information.

For those of you who are attached to your computers then maybe you would prefer to garden using a CD ROM. To be honest, I prefer to get my hands dirty rather than banging away on a computer keyboard or working with a mouse, but then that is a matter of choice, I suppose.

Other suitable gifts would be garden secateurs, spades, watering cans, and other such garden tools. Flower arrangements, pot plants, garden shrubs, trees, and so on make very acceptable gifts, especially those that you create or produce yourself.

If, having read this column, you are still finding that deciding on an appropriate gift is a problem, then there is always the trusty voucher. You can buy vouchers for just about anything these days and that includes gardening related items. Sometimes though it is kinder to allow your family and friends to select their own gifts.

I’ll leave you now to start or even continue (if you are that organised ) with your Christmas shopping, and remember that it is not all about spending money. The thought really does count!

Happy gardening (or should I say shopping )!

Anne.

Garden checklist

• Plant bare-rooted trees and shrubs.

• Tidy up unruly herbaceous plants.

• Stake and tie trees (secure but not too tightly ).

• Start pruning apple and pear trees. This work can continue until early March.

• Lift and store dahlias, alternatively protect them in the ground from frost damage.

• Removed rotting fruits from stored apples.

• Dig the vegetable garden.

• Prune greenhouse grapevine plants.

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