This is my favorite column of the year, when I get to suggest that readers go out and buy for their favorite gardeners all the goodies I’ve ever dreamed of having for myself. Yes, I did say “go out and buy,” as if I didn’t know that with a simple touch of the index finger one can have the entire universe delivered overnight to your door. But the retail outlets that sell gifts for gardeners are wonderful places to visit at this time of the year, as most of them are part greenhouse, affording shoppers a chance to wander warm, soil-and-blossom-scented aisles of green and flowering plants, sometimes to the splashing of working fountains. It’s as much a mini-holiday as a shopping trip, and there are often gift items you never dreamed of on display. In addition to full-sized tools and colorful trugs and baskets, look for stocking stuffers like gloves, hand pruners, garden scissors, plant markers and more. Today’s garden centers offer clothing and hats for the gardener, and some devote special sections to plants and containers for terrariums and have huge selections of houseplants, whimsical Christmas ornaments, high-quality gardener’s soaps and salves, seeds and more. If you need inspiration, a walk through a garden center can help. It’s just difficult to walk away without a plant or tool for oneself.

Without leaving home, you can give a gift that keeps on giving: membership to Coastal Maine Botanical Gardens also benefits Maine’s own world-class garden in Boothbay. Membership includes free admission to the Gardens during the regular season, April through October, one-time-use guest passes and free admission and/or discounts for approximately 300 gardens across the U.S. and Canada through the American Horticultural Society reciprocal benefits program. Begun in 2007, CMBG is a very young undertaking, but it has nonetheless taken its place among the top botanical wonders in the U.S. In 2020 they will be included in a series of Forever Stamps issued by the U.S. Postal Service that features such esteemed locations as Biltmore Estate Gardens in North Carolina, Brooklyn Botanic Garden in New York, Chicago Botanic Garden, Dumbarton Oaks Garden, in Washington, D.C., Huntington Botanical Gardens in California and Winterthur Garden in Delaware, among others — all of them far longer established than CMBG. Right now, and continuing through December 31, the Gardens offer one of New England’s biggest Christmas light displays, with over 650,000 lights. If you want to start a family tradition and see this winter wonderland, you need to plan ahead, as ticket sales are highly regulated to avoid overcrowding. Membership also gives you a discount on tickets to this display. Also bear in mind that this is taking place in a seaside location. Dress as if you’re going on an Arctic expedition. You can even check off some of your Christmas list in the gift shop while you warm up.

You don’t have to limit your shopping for gardeners to garden centers, of course. Cruise down to the local hardware store and you’ll find plenty of items for under the tree. One huge category is bird feeders. Most gardeners maintain their relationship with resident birds throughout the winter and hardware stores carry a good selection as well as the seed to fill them. Don’t overlook the stocking stuffers: while truffles and candy canes might be nice, any gardener would love a sturdy file to put a quick edge on pruners or clippers, a folding utility knife for cutting twine or plant ties, or a few balls of good-quality twine itself. Santa, I’d especially like to find a small hatchet in my stocking, for fashioning plant stakes and then hammering them home. And toss in a boot scraper while you’re at it; I never seem to find the time to get one when I most need it and it would be great to keep the garden dirt outside.

For gardeners who like to grow something all year long, especially those who also enjoy cooking, surprise them with an indoor mushroom-growing kit. North Spore, a company in Westbrook, Maine, offers “spray-and-grow” kits in four different varieties: Lion’s Mane, Blue Oyster, Pink Oyster, and Golden Oyster. I’ve personally watched my 10-year-old grandson nurture and harvest the blue oyster and lion’s mane varieties and can tell you that it can be done successfully indoors and nothing beats an omelette made with freshly harvested ’shrooms grown beside the living room woodstove.