Last-minute gifts

Stuck for an idea for a present for a gardener? Gillian Vine has some suggestions.

1 Philadelphus Frosty Morn is a beautiful double form of the popular old mock orange. The double blooms are strongly perfumed and produced en masse in time for Christmas. Like the older types, Frosty Morn is deciduous and frost-hardy but more compact, growing to about 2m; $17.99 from Wal's Plant Land, Mosgiel.

2 The silver vase or urn plant (Aechmea fasciata Primera) is a bromeliad native to Brazil. This striking house plant needs partial shade and a well-drained, but moisture-retentive soil. Roots will rot if allowed to remain sodden. Silver vases can be grown without soil by putting moss around the roots and tying the plants to a large piece of bark; $34.99 from Nichol's Garden Centres.

3 The fall in bee numbers has led to intense interest in ways of improving the situation, with more people having hives in their gardens or on rooftops. To get a handle on beekeeping, there are plenty of helpful books, including this selection from PaperPlus, Dunedin.

4 Catch the children's attention and encourage them into the garden with this bright selection of American-designed tools. Shovel $34.95, rake $34.90, net $16.90, bug house $28.90; all from Blueskin Nurseries, Waitati.

5 Stocking-fillers for youngsters could include a couple of packets of seed. Nasturtiums, calendulas and sunflowers are easy to grow, while radishes are a quick-yielding edible. Swan plants attract monarch butterflies and, as the caterpillars are very greedy, extra plants can ensure food until the chrysalis stage is reached, saving tears from having to cull the catepillars.

6 If a long, hot summer eventuates, this mosaic table and two chairs would be great for relaxing in the garden. If not protected with a silicone coating, these items can rust; if untreated, keep under cover when not in use. From Nichol's Dunedin, $299 the set.

7 A brilliant way to grow fruit trees where space is limited are these topiary apricots; $45 each from Wal's Plant Land, Mosgiel. The variety is dwarf Golden Glow, which fruits early in the season. Although it will fruit on its own, Golden Glow produces better if grown with another small variety, such as Garden Annie.

8 It's important to protect yourself in the garden. As well as slapping on sunscreen, don't forget to wear a hat. This range from Nichol's Garden Centre, Dunedin, includes some classy enough for wearing to a garden party. Priced from $20.

9 One of the prettiest small maples, Acer palmatum Shirazz has tricoloured foliage (pink, green and cream) that turns vivid scarlet in autumn. The mature height is about 3m. Like all Japanese maples, it prefers to be grown in partial shade and needs shelter from strong winds; $39.99 from Wal's Plant Land, Mosgiel.

10 Manuka (Leptospermum scoparium) has never looked more appealing, thanks to a growing selection of cultivars in white, pink and red on offer at garden centres. This is the widely available Martinii, which smothers itself with blossom just before Christmas. For as little as $15 - depending on the bush size - it's a reasonably priced present for someone who likes New Zealand native plants.

11 Orchids are the world's most popular indoor plants. The flowers are very long-lasting and the colour range covers the spectrum. With care, the plants last for years. Looking not unlike the more common Phalaenopsis orchids, Doritaenopsis Sunrise Star has sprays of creamy flowers with cherry-red lips; $39.99 from a range at Wal's Plant Land, Mosgiel.

12 The striking orange and yellow flowers of Tequila Sunrise has made it a favourite since it was introduced in 1988. Although it has only a light perfume, this hybrid tea rose scores in every other way. Available as a bush at $29.90 from Blueskin Nurseries, Waitati.