Christmas is just a week away, and it is time to think about gifts for gardeners.

One idea is books. Some years I spend one week doing a column on books and a second column on other gifts, but this year’s crop of books was a bit sparse.

One I can recommend without any qualms whatsoever is Rosalind Creasey’s update of her “Edible Landscaping” book. It was originally published in 1982 and was hugely ahead of its time, showing people with text and excellent photographs how to create a home garden that is beautiful and produces healthy, tasty food.

The new edition draws on Creasy’s three decades of experimentation and research since the first one, and it is something gardeners will want whether they have the original or not.

I spoke to Creasy by telephone before her talk to the Garden Club Federation of Maine earlier this year, and found her passionate, knowledgeable and fun — a perfect combination. The book is published by Sierra Club/Counterpoint, and has a list price of $39.95.

Another book I found interesting — in that it was both irritating and informative — was “Holy (expletive): Managing Manure to Save Mankind” by Gene Logsdon, an Ohio farmer. His information on how to compost is complete and funny, and his condemnation of big-agriculture and U.S. sewage-treatment policies is spot-on, but his repetitive preachiness grew old quickly. It has a list price of $17.50, and is from Chelsea Green Publishing.

Locally, I enjoyed Tom Seymour’s “Wild Plants of Maine: A Useful Guide,” even though I am unlikely to search for groundnuts or eat the Japanese knotweed that sprouts all over Maine. It was just simply interesting to know that the food is out there, and it would be possible to survive on it if Shaw’s, Hannaford, Trader Joe’s and Whole Foods should suddenly disappear. It is published by Just Write Books in Topsham, and lists for $24.95.

Those are the books that stood out, so now to the actual world of gardening.

Wine writers (I probably should say beer writers) often say that the ideal gift for a wine lover is not wine gear, but wine itself. And the ideal gift for a gardener is plants.

This is especially good for people who have a new home. Last year we ordered for spring delivery three blueberry bushes for a couple who had recently moved to a new home. You could select ornamental trees and shrubs that you might like, crop foods such as raspberries, strawberries or peach trees, and just about anything else — order them, and the nursery will do the shipping later.

Maine has plenty of excellent catalog companies, including Fedco, Pinetree Garden seeds and Johnny’s Selected Seeds. The gift plants (or seeds or whatever) will be delivered when it is the appropriate time for planting at the recipient’s address.

If the person you are gifting has no more room in his yard, there is always the possibility of indoor plants. If you want to start someone on an entirely new hobby, purchase a bonsai kit and an instruction pamphlet. I was at Skillins in Falmouth two weeks ago, and they had an excellent selection of bonsai containers, soils, instruction books and the plants themselves. Other garden centers would also carry them.

If you think the recipient might be too busy to get into pruning and root pruning required by a bonsai, invest in a large pot and three houseplants that take similar lighting and watering conditions, and create a small indoor garden. Most garden centers will plant them for you if you don’t want to do it yourself.

One of my favorite Maine catalogs is from Wood Prairie Farm in Bridgewater, way up in Aroostook County. The organic farm is known mostly for potatoes, and has a Potato of the Month Club. But they also sell seed potatoes, other seeds, cheeses, baking mixes, grains and flours, dried fruits and beans, and a few tools. Check them out at

There are other farms in Maine that ship gift boxes. A simple Internet search using “Maine farm gift box” finds everything from raspberry jam to apples, cheeses, etc.

And probably the best gift of all might be time and talent. As I age, I notice more people who used to do a lot of gardening and have good gardens, but they just can’t take care of them anymore. Give them a gift certificate of a few hours of your time for a spring cleanup.

If your back won’t take the physical activity, you can usually buy a gift certificate from local lawn services or landscape gardeners. You know it will be appreciated.

Tom Atwell can be contacted at 791-6362 or at:

[email protected]