If your holiday gift list includes an avid or aspiring gardener, you
might think that frozen soil and frigid temperatures preclude a
gardening gift. But those of us who can’t wait to get out and dig in
the dirt at the first forsythia flower, secretly love winter
dormancy. We are plotting our strategy for the upcoming year,
resolute not to repeat the previous year’s mistakes, hopeful that
this year our gardens will be the most beautiful and bountiful
EVER. Most gardeners cherish the stacks of seed and plant catalogs
that arrive during the winter months.
But if you really want to warm a gardener’s heart, consider the
gift of a book, replete with images of gardens in full bloom or
shots of perfectly ripe vegetables right out of a Dutch still
books can educate, inspire and amuse. When choosing a book for a
garden enthusiast, the first step is to know what kind of
gardener they are.
they grow vegetables or prefer ornamental gardening? Is
their passion perennials, or do they admire the trees of the
forest, not caring about the minutia of a flower garden? Is
their idea of gardening a day spent turning compost and weeding
until the sun sets, or do they employ a gardener and wave their
arms, and their wallets, creating an enviable garden?
asked fellow Master Gardeners their thoughts on the best reads
for gardeners and resources that they turn to again and
again. The books listed include old favorites and newly
General gardening reference books
National Garden Book”
by Sunset Books, “Garden
Primer: Second Edition”
by Barbara Damrosch and “Rodale's
Ultimate Encyclopedia of Organic Gardening: The Indispensable
Green Resource for Every Gardener”
edited by Fern Marshall Bradley, Barbara Ellis and Ellen
Phillips were cited by Master Gardeners as one stop garden
references they consistently rely on.
Bug Bad Bug: Who’s Who, What They Do, and How to Manage Them
by local author Jessica Walliser provides tips to manage the
insects that plague many gardens without resorting to an arsenal
Books focusing on special interests- trees, perennials, herbs,
native plants or annuals
Made Easy: A Gardener’s Visual Guide to When and How to Prune
Everything from Flowers to Trees”
by Lewis Hill demystifies one of the most common garden chores.
Encyclopedia of Herbs: A Comprehensive Reference to Herbs of
Flavor and Fragrance”
by Arthur Tucker and Thomas DeBaggio is a complete herbal and
the perfect gift for anyone with an interest their usage.
Since 1945 the Brooklyn Botanic Garden has
published guidebooks for gardeners with specific interests. Many
gardeners are embracing native plants and several books address
this niche including- “Great
Natives for Tough Places”,
Native Plants Reader”,
Alternatives to Invasive Plants”
Native Pollinators: The Xerces Society Guide, Protecting North
America's Bees and Butterflies” by The
Xerces Society educates gardeners on the need to attract and
The Most Popular Book?
The most often recommended book by local Master
Gardeners is “The
Well-Tended Perennial Garden”
by Tracy DiSabato-Aust. Detailed information on the
most commonly grown perennials in our region, plus
excellent tips on maintaining perennial gardens are
found within its pages.
Books to inspire- perfect for the coffee table, filled with
photos of dream gardens
A New Perspective”
by Piet Oudolf and Noel Kingsbury illustrates the bold strokes
of perennials Oudolf is famous for. The High Line gardens in New
York City exemplify his style.
Layered Garden: Design Lessons for Year-Round Beauty from
is a lovely book by David L. Culp. His garden is an inspiration
for a garden of any size, with plantings that feature great
diversity, from large trees to tiny bulbs.
Rich Spot of Earth: Thomas Jefferson’s Revolutionary Garden at
by Peter J. Hatch brings Jefferson’s Monticello garden to life.
It was the winner of a 2013 American Horticultural Society
A Cook and His Vegetable Patch”
by Nigel Slater comes recommended by a Master Gardener and
professional cook, a great read with the bonus of providing
recipes for the garden’s bounty.
Roots of My Obsession: Thirty Great Gardeners Reveal Why They
edited by Thomas C. Cooper makes a perfect stocking stuffer.
Two writers who combined gardening, humor,
philosophy and great writing are the late Eleanor Perenyi,
author of “Green
Thoughts, A Writer in the Garden”
and, my personal favorite, Henry Mitchell.
Mitchell wrote for the Washington Post and “The
are collections of his columns. He describes true gardeners as
“the ones who ruin after ruin get on with the high defiance of
nature herself, creating, in the very face of her chaos and
tornado, the bower of roses and the pride of irises”. Those
words will resonate with your favorite gardener.