Gifts for plant lovers this Christmas: From ivy to winter honeysuckle

Stuck for what to get as a last-minute Christmas present this year?

Why not opt for something a little different like a plant, which the recipient can grow and grow to love even more. And even better, this idea gives back to the planet.

The Forestry Commission’s Andy MacPhail tells us about some pocket-friendly plants, perfect for a green-fingered loved one.

Bay tree

Grow-your-own doesn’t only have to mean fruits. Have you ever run out of a spice or herb for your ultimate recipe? Why not give someone a ‘useful’ tree, such as a bay leaf shrub (Laurus nobilis) – you can use the leaves for cooking but it’s also perfect as an easy-to-manage screen for the front garden, as it’s dense and evergreen.

Fruit tree

Fruit trees will keep giving fresh and healthy produce to your dear ones year after year. Make sure you choose hardy varieties, preferably resistant to pests and diseases, for an easy return. Apples, cherries, pears, plums and damsons are great for pollinators and a good way to acquaint children with the seasonal cycles. Unusual trees such as strawberry tree (Arbutus unedo, inset), apricots and figs (will require a south-facing wall) grow well and can be a quirkier, special gift.


Easy to grow, shade tolerant and evergreen – it’s easy to see why it’s so popular. Ivy is also a great year-rounder, perfect as a climber trailing over a shady wall and can grow happily in a pot. Also excellent to use as part of Christmas displays and winter colour – and great for wildlife because it provides shelter and precious pollen in autumn. Great value for money, it’s also one of the best gifts for the environment.

Winter flowering cherry

A plant is not an uncommon gift but if that plant flowers at an unusual time of year, the person receiving it will remember you fondly every time it begins to bloom. Winter flowering cherry has attractive autumn foliage but blossoms delicately from October to February, and it’s just right for cheering up a dark morning or early evenings in the winter months. This very pretty tree is loved by birds and can be grown in a small garden.

Winter honeysuckle

Spring and summer offer plenty of opportunities for our pollinator friends but it’s not unusual to see bumble bees gorging themselves on winter honeysuckle. It blooms from mid-December to March with small, highly scented flowers and makes a great gift.

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