Books make the very best of holiday gifts, and for gardeners, many books become lifelong companions. The dog eared pages and dirt smudged covers are signs of the loving use by an avid reader. Genevieve of North Coast Gardening recently asked her readers to name their five most favorite gardening books to recommend to others. We were happy to oblige with the five books listed below. These are by no means the only five, the top five or the fave five, but they are tomes that have been read several times and will never be given away. In no particular order, may we present:
The Southern Living Garden Book by the editors of Southern Living Magazine, including our friend, Grumpy Gardener, Steve Bender
This is the number one reference book used in the Fairegarden. When the internet was down for several days recently, were we ever glad to have this on hand to answer our gardening questions. (It also revealed how addicted we were to the internet, but that is another story for another time.) This is the book that is given to newbie gardeners to help them get started in the lifelong love affair that will follow the dirty fingernails. Everything is here, lists, plant information, how tos, for the Southern United States. I wouldn’t be without this book. Period.
Designing With Plants by Piet Oudolf and Noël Kingsbury
This book was a mind changer for me. It helped the vision of how we wanted the Fairegarden to progress become more finely formed and listed plants that would help get it there. A heavy use of strong perennials planted en masse that would look good for very nearly the entire year struck a chord with an aging gardener looking for an easier way to manage a yard that is all garden. Chip, chip, chipping away at getting the plantings closer together, using fewer varieties and focusing on ones that do the best in our conditions just makes perfect sense. This book is opened again and again whenever inspiration is needed. The photos alone are worth the price, but the text is fine prose as well.
Radical Prunings by Bonnie Thomas Abbott
This is not a how to book, it is actually fiction with gardening as a background element. If you love to read about gardens and gardening and have a sense of humor and like a good laugh out loud page turner, this book is for you.
Beth Chatto’s Gravel Garden by Beth Chatto
This was another book in the inspirational category as I struggled to transform a former gravel driveway into a decent looking garden bed. Ms. Chatto is a fine writer and her gardening advice, even though she lives in a very different climate from ours in England, was extremely useful to me. Those of you with similar difficult conditions will find something to help you manage in this book.
Wildflowers Of Tennessee, The Ohio Valley and Southern Appalachians by Dennis Horn and Tavia Cathcart
This was a gift from my dear friend Gail of Clay and Limestone. She has been a champion of native plants for a long time and has helped me to see the light in that department. She hosts a meme featuring wildflowers on the fourth Wednesday of each month. For December 2010 this will fall on the 22nd, so plan your post now so as not to get so caught up in the spreading of holiday cheer that you forget. Just a gentle reminder. Knowing how to identify those plants formerly known as weeds from actual invasive exotics is key to getting it right for the good of the environment and the world as we know it. I suggest you look for a similar type of book that helps identify the plants of your area.
Anything by Nancy J. Ondra
Nan is a fellow garden blogger whose work I highly admire. Some may already know her from her blog, Hayefield and the group blog, Gardening Gone Wild. Nan is a fine writer and her books feature fabulous images by some of the best photographers in the business. The book shown is about Grasses, a subject near and dear to my heart, but all are wonderful. I own several of them.
There are many more books that I could recommend, but time allocation prevents them all from being listed. I do encourage you to delve more deeply into those listed above, and/or make your own list and add your post to Genevieve’s story. Remember, reading is knowledge and knowledge is power. Or something along those lines.