Gardening gifts for any season

Photo by Bernadette Vangool. Gardening and nature books make a great gift for the budding naturalist in your family.

Bernadette Vangool, Saskatchewan Perennial Society

Somehow or other this article had disappeared in the ether, airwaves or however these transmissions work these days. It was meant to appear sometime before Christmas. As many of the suggestions were books, and winter is long, I have decided to resend it, albeit a bit late for Christmas, perhaps these can be birthday presents for your gardener friends.

Gardeners among your family and friends may well appreciate some new gardening gloves, or a tool to make the gardening experience a little easier. The Saskatchewan Perennial Society has some nifty hand hoes in stock, for sale at $17.00. To get yours in Saskatoon call 306-343-7707. If no answer, leave a message on the answering machine. In other areas of Saskatchewan, contact your local garden club, many of which sell these handy tools as a fundraiser for their society.

For those of you contemplating a new garden space, why not incorporate some fruit trees or shrubs in your design? Many apples, cherries and plums have beautiful spring colour and provide plenty of fruit. These often are of smaller stature than the species and well adapted to smaller spaces. A “dwarf” fruit tree is smaller in tree size, not in fruit size! ‘Growing Fruit in Northern Gardens’ by Sara Williams and Bob Bors is an excellent resource. This book includes more than 20 species and almost 200 varieties – from sea buckthorn, heritage plums to apples and dwarf sour cherries. Take this winter to hone up on your knowledge of fruit trees and shrubs, so you can make a more informed decision as to which to include in your landscape.

For the young naturalist in the family, ‘Raising Butterflies and Moths in the Garden’ second edition by Brenda Dziedzic will be a welcome addition. The book features 50 North American moths and butterflies; their range, stages of development, the host plant that the caterpillar feeds on, as well as the nectar plants that attract the butterflies to your yard. With over 500 photographs showing the complete life cycle of each species and minimal writing. the book is an easy read. If there is a down-side to the book, it would be that many of the species covered are not endemic to our area. But it will wet the appetite to further exploration.

For bird lovers, ‘Bird Brains – the Intelligence of Crows, Ravens, Magpies, and Jays’ by Candace Savage examines the behaviour of the corvid family of birds across the world. It features full colour photographs by over two dozen wildlife photographers. This coffee table book has many little gems of information, such as the habit of magpies or crows to hide and tuck away morsels of food for future consumption. This revised edition with a new introduction was published in 2018. I found my copy at Wild Birds on 8th Street in Saskatoon.

Photo by Bernadette Vangool. Gardening and nature books make a great gift for the budding naturalist in your family.

History buffs, here is a book for you, hot off the press: ‘Trees Against the Wind – the Birth of Prairie Shelterbelts’ by William Schroeder. This is an in-depth look at the history of tree planting on the prairies, the nurseries developed to supply the trees, the men who ran those nurseries, the inspectors who traveled the province, visiting farmyards, etc. It is a well researched book documenting an important part of our prairie history, with stories and photographs.

The 2024 Prairie Garden Annual publication is now available. This year’s edition focuses on gardening indoors, with 30 articles from growing African violets and orchids to starting seeds of native plants indoors. There are also an additional 27 articles on general gardening topics such as ‘Gardening with deer’, which I will have to read as they have invaded our gardens at the Forestry Farm Park. The Prairie Garden is available from some garden centers as well as from McNally Robinson and other book stores.

The Christmas season is a good time to reflect on times gone by and also to look forward to the new year ahead. I am truly thankful for my family and friends and my gardening buddies. Many volunteers help us to provide our programs to the public, from organizing information meetings  and garden tours, the gardening at the zoo gardens, and, of course, providing these regular columns to your local paper on a weekly basis. As a board member I like to thank each and every one of you for your contributions to our organization in the past year. I would also like to wish all of our readers and volunteers all the best in 2024.

This column is provided courtesy of the Saskatchewan Perennial Society (SPS; Check our website ( or Facebook page ( for a list of upcoming gardening events.