Each year at this time the pace gets more and more hectic. What to buy? Will it fit? Will the color be right? And all the additional concerns for the right gift. Perhaps I can share a few ideas to help those last-minute shoppers.

Fresh-cut flowers and evergreen bouquets are always well-received. The delightful pine scent and beautiful accessories make these a delightful gift. Other beautiful ideas for living Christmas gifts, of course, are poinsettias, Christmas cactuses, begonias and azaleas. Avid gardeners also appreciate plants that grow and bloom. These include amaryllis, paper whites or crocus. These bulbs are great for growing indoors, and the spectacular flowers add a touch of cheer through the bleak days of January.Garden tools are also a good choice. I'm not suggesting your spouse would get dreamy-eyed over a shovel in the Christmas stocking, but garden tools are a popular and enduring gift. I suggest a nice pair of hand pruners or loppers. Choose a quality brand (Felcro, Corona, etc.), and you've given a lifetime gift. Inexpensive, poor-quality tools are a frustration to work with and do not last.

Spading forks are a useful but underutilized tool. They are far superior to shovels for turning flower beds, digging root crops and working in perennial gardens. Quality is important here to ensure satisfaction and longevity.

The tool variety is almost endless. Your local nursery can show you some of the many available. The variety is almost too great. If you acquire one of everything, you would soon take up all your garden space with storage sheds for the tools.

I think my personal weakness is garden books. Gardening is America's No. 1 outdoor activity, and authors and publishers have responded admirably to fulfill that information need. The texts include everything from general gardening to specialized works on various plant species. Most are beautifully illustrated with color photographs. It is impossible to list even a small number of those available, but I'll note a few that I've added or wanted to add to my library in the past few months.

Ortho currently publishes some 50 garden books on many topics. Most are available in inexpensive softcover editions. They are widely available through garden centers and bookstores. I found "Successful Flower Gardens" an excellent new title. This hardbound text goes well with another popular subject covered in "Creative Home Landscaping." Softcover releases include "The Garden That Cares for Itself." This is a great choice for those wanting to reduce the time required in their gardens. "All About Roses" and "All About Vegetables" are newly revised editions of popular texts.

In my library, there is one book I would hate to be without. "Sunset Western Garden Book" is well-worn because of the extensive use it gets. This plant encyclopedia is not Sunset's only offering, but it is my recommendation as a must-have book. Sunset books are also widely available through the traditional nursery and bookstore channels. New and popular titles include "Waterwise Gardening," "How to Grow Bulbs," "Landscaping for Privacy" and "Vegetable Gardening."

HP Books also offers a wide assortment of books in softcover editions. "Vegetables, How to Select, Grow and Enjoy" gives excellent growing advice. "Western Fruit Berries and Nuts" is the best reference I know of for a backyard orchardist in Utah. Other beautiful garden books in this series include "How to Select, Grow and Enjoy Annuals." Similar books on bulbs, perennials and herbs are published in this how-to-select, grow and enjoy series. These are available at many local nurseries and bookstores.

Storey Communications also offers a number of outstanding books. "The Joy of Gardening" is an excellent resource. Storey also offers a series on "1001 Garden Questions Answered." For a catalog of its works, write Storey Communications Inc., Pownal, VT 05261.

There are many other Christmas gift ideas for gardeners. Gardening itself inspires creative talents so that the gift can be a portion of oneself. Potpourris of flower petals or herbs for the cooking rack are great ideas for Christmas gifts. Dried flowers, wreaths and homemade jams and jellies are also much appreciated. Gifts for the garden or from the gardener are certain to please on Christmas morning.