By MARY FRAN McQUADE
Who’s ready for Christmas (or other end-of-year holidays that are celebrated)? I’m not, but I’m reminding myself that it’s looming just over the horizon.
Like every other special occasion this year, I expect it’ll be a very different kind of celebration due to the COVID-19 pandemic. And I’m starting my holiday shopping early.
If you’re buying for a gardener, you’re in luck. There’s plenty to choose from, both online and locally. And if you’re a gardener yourself, just leave this column lying around somewhere so your friends and family can see it.
Seasonal garlands, firewood and more
Everyone probably knows East End Garden Centre, at 1395 Queen St. E. at Greenwood Avenue (no website). They’ve already brought in their seasonal garlands and bunches of greens. You can also brighten up someone’s winter days with a combination planting of house plants or a packaged amaryllis bulb.
The nice thing is that, like other bulbs, the flower is already there, tucked away inside the bulb. All you have to do is stick it in a pot of soil indoors, water it, and it’s all ready to sprout into big beautiful blooms in the weeks ahead. It’s one of my favourite can’t-miss gifts.
If you know people who love to sit around their fireplace for family games or TV watching, you could order them a load of firewood. Hopefully, they’ll drink to your health and happiness while they’re toasting their toes.
A last suggestion is to look ahead to summer and give your loved one a gift certificate. If they’re growing veggies, they can use it for seeds or starter plants. If they’re a lover of flowers and shrubs, they’ll be able to splurge a bit when April rolls around. Trust me, even bags of manure or topsoil will thrill a gardener in 2021.
The garden centre is “fully open,” as of last week, when I spoke to them. Only a limited number of customers are allowed inside at one time, so you may encounter line-ups. Wear a mask and keep social distancing, of course. And with the constantly changing COVID-19 situation, let’s hope everything is still open by the time this column goes to press.
Online/onsite holiday greenery and decor
Beech Nursery, down at 4 Carlaw Ave., is all set for the holidays, both onsite and online. If you want to shop in person, the usual rules apply – masks and limited numbers of customers in their shop at a time.
When I checked their website www.beechnursery.com, I was impressed at the selection of live outdoor evergreens, just right for decorative containers. You can dress up your mantel, porch or doorway with a huge selection of garlands and cut greens, too. If you’re a do-it-yourself-er, choose whatever bunches you like and make up a container to keep or give as a gift. Or you can order beautiful ready-made holiday door swags and arrangements for outdoor planters to delight you or a lucky friend.
If you decide to shop online, you can have your purchases delivered for a reasonable fee or you can save a bit and pick them up yourself.
Unusual home and garden gifts
A little farther afield is Moss, which began on Queen Street but is now at 544 Danforth Ave. near Pape Avenue. I’m including it because it offers one-stop shopping for all kinds of garden-oriented gifts.
Pretty trowels, gloves, candles, long wooden matches and throw cushions are just some of the goodies to sift through. In gardening season, they’ll have a custom selection of outdoor rugs and furniture, so a gift certificate could cover a lot of territory. Visit online or in person, with the usual precautions www.mossgardenhome.com.
Garden stuff, large and small
Finally, for the serious gardener, the Lee Valley Tools website www.Leevalley.com is a virtual wonderland. I have to hide my credit card when I cruise through, or I’ll be in big trouble.
Fine gardening tools like pruners, trowels, spades, adjustable leaf rakes and seed starting supplies are just some of the things you’ll find. Hats, gloves, aprons, gardeners’ soap and hand cream make nice personal-care presents. You can even order “the world’s kindest nail brush” at two for $3 or $12.95 a dozen – ideal stocking stuffers.
I found their website a bit awkward to navigate, so ignore the featured suggestions. Instead, use the search option or drop-down menu to find what you want.