I know this is cheating but just in case I don't get the gift of a book for Christmas, I've bought myself not just one but two.
'The Wild Garden' by William Robinson was first published 144 years ago to illustrate to the Victorian gardener a naturalistic and informal alternative to the fashion for seasonal tender plants used in rigidly formal displays. Although radical at the time you would expect that with the passing of the years his message would have lost its relevance, but with the ever more pressing need for us to garden in a sustainable way, William Robinson's ideas are just as relevant today. Using plant communities that coexist easily and happily without the need for a huge amount of intervention from us to cover the ground and exclude weeds with their vigour is a great way to plant for a Victorian or modern gardener.
The other book I've treated myself to is bang up to date and by two of the leaders of current planting styles, 'Planting A New Perspective' is by Piet Oudolf and Dr Noel Kingsbury. They describe ways of planting to achieve a naturalistic look and an easy maintenance regime using plants suited to the garden's conditions. At first glance these books couldn't look more different from each other, one illustrated by small black and white line drawings the other packed full of exciting vibrant photographs of planting combinations, an explosion of colour, shape and form.
Yet at their heart both books ask gardeners the same thing, to think about what we plant and the way we do it, to understand the plants' needs and use them in combinations which encourage them to perform their best for us in schemes which are easy on the eye and are not difficult to maintain.
It's incredible to think how much has changed in the last 144 years and yet in the world of plants, despite so many new ones having been brought into cultivation. the message remains basically unchanged. It's all about gardening with thought.
By coincidence, it just happens that there's another book I quite fancy called 'The Thoughtful Gardener', but I couldn't buy myself three Christmas presents could I?