Plant or tree for 80th birthday


Hi, I’m in UK but buying a gift for delivery for my cousin’s birthday who lives in Brampton Ontario. She loves gardening. Any ideas or suggestions please and I know you have much colder winters that we do in the UK. Any advice appreciated and good places to buy online. Thank you



Thanks for contacting the Toronto Master Gardeners. A gift of a plant or tree for this special birthday is a lovely idea ! We are not permitted to provide specific recommendations on where to purchase plants, however here are some resources and suggestions about things to consider :

In general, the best times to plant in our climate are in the spring (roughly March – May, depending on the plant) or the early fall (roughly late Aug – early Oct, again depending on the plant). So depending on when your cousin’s birthday is, you might want to consider some kind of a ‘placeholder’ gift if her birthday is not during these timeframes so that planting can be done when your gift arrives.

It is important to know the growing conditions in your cousin’s garden in order to select an appropriate plant that will thrive there  eg. how many hours of sun daily ? mostly shade or part shade ? clay soil (which is common in many parts of our area) or sandy/fast draining soil ? As an example, a rose bush would be a lovely gift, however roses need at least 6 hours of sun daily and well-drained fertile soil. They will not do well with little sun and heavy clay soil.

It is also important to choose a plant or tree that is appropriate for our plant hardiness zone, so that it will survive our winters. In general the Toronto area is Canadian zone 6, but this can vary depending on the specifics of the landscape. It is recommended to choose plants that have a lower zone rating than the zone where they will be planted, so in this case consider plants that are hardy to zone 5 or lower.

I found this link on the Royal Horticultural Society’s website (they are located in the UK), that has some ideas about plants for special occasions that you might want to consider :

If you are considering a tree or ornamental shrub : There is a wonderful non-profit program here in Toronto called LEAF that provides a backyard tree planting service. Unfortunately it is not available to Brampton residents, however you could have a look at their website for information about native trees and ornamental shrubs that you might want to consider for your gift. Here is a link to these lists :

Or what about a Japanese Maple ? Here is a link to info about these trees from Landscape Ontario :

Landscape Ontario is a good source for contacts in all of the horticultural trades, including garden designers, arborists and retail garden centres. Here is a link to search for contacts on their website :

What about an indoor plant – a special orchid  eg Cattleya or Cymbidium, or a bonsai plant ?

Here are links to the Canadian Orchid Congress and the Toronto Bonsai Society (maybe your cousin would be interested in learning about bonsai and/or joining the club?). These links provide information about these plants including vendor lists :

Hopefully these suggestions are of some help !