I have created this page to help “steer” you through the incredible amount of horticultural books that are available to you, to give you an idea of which books are worth purchasing, and which ones you are better off reading at your local library or bookstore for free. Remember, even the Gardening Guru admits that he does not know everything about gardening. Life is a continual learning experience, and so it is with gardening.
Viburnums: Flowering Shrubs for Every Season
By Michael A. Dirr
With their abundance of flower, handsome foliage, robust constitution, and frequently stunning fruits, viburnums are among the most beautiful and versatile hardy shrubs available to gardeners. Yet despite these outstanding qualities, there has never been an entire volume devoted to them – until now. In this definitive, comprehensive, generously illustrated guide, internationally renowned woody plant expert Michael Dirr provides a wealth of information about every species and cultivar worthy of horticultural consideration. Dirr details each plant's height, spread, foliage, habit, floral characteristics, fruits, special traits such as fragrance or attractive bark, hardiness, origin, cultural needs, and overall garden appeal. These finely judged appraisals make it easy for the gardener or designer to choose the right plant for the right situation.
This book is simply stunning with all of the color photographs, but more importantly, the information communicated by Mr. Dirr is extremely enlightening. For those of you who do not have a viburnum on your property, you will next year after reading this book.
264 pages, hard cover, 427 color photos, $39.95
The Truth About Garden Remedies
By Jeff Gillman
Can beer make plants grow? How about buttermilk? Or music — classical or rock? Is it true about planting trees in deep holes? And how about chasing insects with hot sauce and stopping slugs with eggshells? Remedies for all garden woes are there for the taking: the challenge is to know what will work and what won't. Fearlessly conducting original experiments and harvesting wisdom from the scientific literature, horticulturist Jeff Gillman assesses new and historic advice and reveals the how and why — and sometimes the why not — for more than 100 common and uncommon gardening practices. The results will surprise even experienced gardeners, and let me tell you, they surprised me!
What is truly amazing about this book is that Jeff took the time to try out all of the time honored remedies to see if they actually do work, and you will be surprised at what doesn't work (Grandma was wrong!). I like that the book is not filled with a lot of wasteful pictures, "just the facts", and the reasoning behind the results. When you read this book, it will get your mind thinking about what may just work in place of that time-honored family tradition that didn't, and you all know how I like books that make you think after you have read them.
212 pages soft cover, $12.95
The Garden Primer (2nd Edition)
By Barbara Damrosch
Now the beloved classic is revised front-to-back. The new edition has gone 100% organic, which in Barbara Damrosch's hands also means completely accessible. It reflects the latest research on plants, soils, tools, and techniques. There is updated and expanded information on planning a garden, recommended plants, and best tools. Ecological issues are addressed much more extensively, covering lawn alternatives, the benefits of native species, wildlife-friendly gardens, and how to avoid harmful invasive species. More attention is paid to plants appropriate to the South, Southwest, and West Coast, while cold-climate gardeners are given detailed advice on how to extend the growing season. Simply put, the book is a richer and fuller compendium than ever before, with more text, more illustrations and garden plans, expanded plant lists, and gardener's resources. But Barbara Damrosch's core of practical, creative ideas and friendly style remain—she is still an "old-fashioned dirt gardener" at heart.
Even though I have the original first edition of this book, this new edition has improved upon what was accomplished in the first. As many of you know, the one influential television show I watched growing up was "Crockett's Victory Garden", where Jim Crockett would walk you through planting techniques, show you how to prune and teach you the basics of gardening. This book accomplishes the same teaching skills of gardening basics in an easy to comprehend fashion that only Barbara Damrosch can do. This is a great book to get dirty as you carry it with you while working in your garden!
820 pages paperback
Plant Solutions for Every Garden
By Nigel Colborn
If you're looking for the right plant for a particular place or purpose, Plant Solutions is an invaluable resource. Whether you have a shady spot, alkaline soil, or a boggy area; you're looking for fall color, cut flowers, or ground cover; or need to consider pollution tolerance or allergies, the extensive plant suggestions in this thorough directory will help you make the right choices.
Each entry has a photograph, a clear description including desirable varieties, a summary of cultivation requirements, planting ideas, and suggestions for companion plants. Cross references to other plants in the book enable gardeners to build up a palette of plants to suit their needs. Fully annotated illustrations of planting schemes and color-coded tabs for quick reference make for an inspirational and practical companion for gardeners and designers.
When I review a book for the website, I always look at it from an everyday gardener’s point of view, especially how easy is it to read, comprehend, and of course, its’ usefulness in the garden. This book is a winner. I especially appreciate the cross-referencing to other plants in the book, which helps you understand companion planting, and the planting schemes, which also helps you comprehend plant matches. Be ready to use this book on a daily basis. This one will not get dusty sitting on a shelf!
448 page Hardcover book with 2000 color photos and illustrations
The Essential Garden Design Workbook
By Rosemary Alexander
A well-designed garden provides pleasure to owner and visitor alike but often eludes even the most experienced gardener. The Essential Garden Design Workbook guides you through every stage of designing a garden, from site assessment to drawing up plans and selecting suitable materials. Here you will learn how to assess your site and experiment with design ideas that fit well with the garden's surroundings. You will find easy ways to measure large spaces, estimate the height of a tree, and determine the right proportions for a deck, pathway, or steps. The book includes clear instructions for drawing up plans — from initial concept diagram to final design. This book is tailor made for hands-on gardeners who want to rework their gardens to achieve that sought-after 'designer finish'. Hundreds of explanatory drawings and quick-reference diagrams make this workbook a vital addition to the bookshelves of every gardener, design student, and professional. By working through this book from start to finish, a designer garden is within everyone's reach.
I wish that this book was available when I was teaching Landscape Design to students. This book tells you, in plain language, the concepts of proper landscape design and instructs you how to complete your project. As most of you know, I am not a fan of big ego gardeners who make the design process into something it is not -- a process that is only for the chosen few. YOU CAN DO THIS, and this book is a tremendous help for experienced as well as novice gardeners, something I whole heartedly believe in.
New Jersey The Natural State
by Dwight Hiscano
Before we get too far with the review of this book, I must tell you that I know Dwight personally. Actually, I have one of his photographs on my living room wall, and if you see a photo in this book that you are interested in having on your wall, visit his web site at Dwight Hiscano Photography. More importantly, Dwight has a gift of being able to capture nature in a photograph. Now this book covers New Jersey, and for all of you who think New Jersey is made up of either the NJ Turnpike, Garden State Parkway or Paramus Park Mall, this book will show you how wonderful New Jersey really is, the New Jersey that I know. Below is a little out take from his book, and hopefully will give you a little insight into this wonderful book.
"Photography here is a joy. Cascading waterfalls, pastoral meadows, high ridges, the rocky bulge of Mount Tamany and the majestic Delaware River all provide ample opportunities for the landscape photographer. . . . I see bears. I see bobcat prints in the snow, fossils and quartz crystals in the rock. I walk among chest high ferns and through thickets of mountain laurel that bloom so densely in June that the scene appears to have been covered by a freak snowfall. Wherever I shoot, I am surrounded by an enchanting landscape. And after returning home from a day of picture taking, I feel as if I've been gone for weeks. It's comforting to know that not only does such a place exist right here in New Jersey, but that so much of it has been permanently preserved," writes award-winning photographer Dwight Hiscano of his native state.
Were you surprised to find you were reading a description of New Jersey? If so, you aren't alone. Even many New Jerseyans don't realize their small state is home to some of the nation's most diverse and beautiful landscapes. From the Kittatinny Mountains in the north to the beaches of Cape May in the south, New Jersey overflows with natural beauty, and Hiscano captures it all with unparalleled artistry in this magnificent collection of more than 100 photos taken over the past decade. Brief section openers describe each region's history, physical features, and ecological importance.
In the spirit of Ansel Adams, who showed the world the previously overlooked magnificence of the Southwest, Hiscano allows us to view the state as never before, showing us its many splendors and varied seasons. His incomparable photographs are organized geographically-The Kittatinny Ridge and Valley, Highlands, Piedmont, Pine Barrens, and the shore. We view the state from its mountain tops and sand dunes. We see mighty oak trees and fragile wild roses. Waterfalls and beaver ponds. Snow-covered cedars and sun-drenched black-eyed susans. Sunrise and moonrise. Beauty in the most obvious and unexpected places. Hiscano's extraordinary portrayal of New Jersey in its most natural state also focuses our attention to the state's rapidly diminishing wildlands, and points out the urgent need to continue to preserve the landscape for future generations.
New Jersey photographer Dwight Hiscano has been shooting landscapes for nearly twenty years. Dwight's limited-edition prints are featured in exhibits, galleries, and museums in New Jersey, and in corporate and private collections throughout the United States.
Now if that description doesn't motivate you to get a copy of this book, I don't know what will.
SEX IN YOUR GARDEN
By Alex Overy
Did you know that there is sex in your garden? This book takes a clear and concise peek at the reproductive processes of garden plants and their relationship to their various pollinators. Written with a flair for the humorous and a touch of the absurd,Sex in Your Garden is the perfect addition to any gardener’s or botanist’s bookshelf. Angela Overy teaches her readers all the basics of garden botany, and the book’s appealing design allows curious readers an opportunity to explore the ins and outs of sex in their own gardens.
Among the awards this book has garnered are:
· Garden Club of America "Eloise Payne Luquer Medal" 1999 Award · Colorado Center for the Book "Colorado Book Award" 1998 finalist · Garden Writers Association of America's 1998 Quill & Trowel Award for Graphic Design · Colorado Book Awards Finalist
Being an Adjunct Professor of Horticulture at Bergen Community College, although I need to cover botany in a more thorough manor than this book covers, this book does convey the what, why, how, where and when of propagation in a light and sometimes comical fashion. It was easy to read and understand, and explains things such as the allures of colors, scents and shapes and how they influence their specific pollinators. This is an unusual book that will draw great attention on your coffee table, but is also filled with expert advice. I thoroughly enjoyed this book and I think you will also.Sex In Your Garden is available from Fulcrum Publishing for $19.95.
Green Gifts by Gill Dickinson photos by Debbie Patterson
Learn how to create more than 50 growing gifts all year round!
Flowers and plants make great gifts throughout the year, and this beautiful book contains “green” ideas for every season and occasion. Whether you garden and can grow gifts for free or want to create gifts from purchased plants and flowers, all the basics are covered, including ideas for gifts using natural materials such as seed heads and fallen leaves.
Being a “green” person, I try to incorporate plants and green material into all of my gifts, and this book will give you plenty of ideas of what to make and when to harvest, so by the holidays this year you will have plenty of green gifts to give as present. Below is an exerpt from the book on how to make lavender bottles.
1. Put the stalks together so the heads are at the same height. Tie narrow ribbon around the stems just below the heads. Leave one end of the ribbon long. Carefully, one at a time, bend the stems back on themselves to enclose the heads.
2. Pull the long piece of ribbon to the outside. Weave it over one stalk and under the next. Continue until the heads are enclosed. If you want to change ribbons, tie the new piece to the old, making sure the knot is concealed inside the bottle.
3. Fasten the ends of the last piece of ribbon by tying it around a stalk and pushing the knot and end to the inside. Cut the stems even and tie decorative ribbons around them. The lavender is now safely enclosed and cannot shed petals, while the delicious lavender fragrance can still be smelled.
There are plenty of pictures and illustrations to help you create a beautiful garden gift, even if you are a clutz with creating gifts like me. I am great out in the garden, but I am not a crafty person. This book was easy to follow, easy to read, and easy to create the gifts, and they turn out just like the picture!
It is 128 pages, 8 ½ x 11 hardcover book with plenty of full color pictures and illustrations to head you in the right direction.
The Evening Garden: Flowers and Fragrance from Dusk till Dawn
by Peter Loewer
It is a great irony that garden books are filled with sunny, colorful photos taken at midday, while the gardeners who tend them are usually away at work. The Evening Garden is an exciting revelation of the delights to be found in a garden that is planned and planted for evening enjoyment, from night-bloomers to fragrant orchids and wildflowers.
This is an indispensable book for any gardener who plans to venture out to the garden after sundown --- or who just likes to read about it.
Excerpt from the book –
"Why make an evening garden, a garden that doesn't awake until the twilight hours and, in many cases, is at its best long after the sun has set?
The answer to that can be prefaced with another question: What’s left of your day after you’ve met your commitments to family, home, job, and community? These hours of leisure that were promised to all after the end of World War II seemed to exist for a while during the 1950s, but with each succeeding decade, they’ve decreased, leading to today’s cry: “What’s happened to my free time?”
I can’t turn back history’s clock, but when it comes to gardening, I can suggest a way to make the most of the time you do have, and that is turning your garden—or part of your garden—into an activity center that begins to swing into action when most of the day’s responsibilities have been met, after the sun has sunk below the horizon.
The evening garden is a great spot for entertaining. From a terrace in the city, to a deck or patio in the country, it’s not only the perfect site for both relaxing and thinking about the day that’s passed, it’s just a very comfortable place to be, especially if your garden contains that time to waft their subtle fragrances on the air.
My wife and I have had parties that revolved around the opening of the moonflower vine on a summer evening. I’ve actually taken visitors on a moonlight walk in the garden, and many are the nights we’ve stood next to a blooming evening primrose and watched the endless stream of moths that flock to these blossoms after the sun goes down. Other times we have sat alone in the garden and enjoyed the soft lights of the moon and stars (or the lights we have installed around the garden’s edges) and listened to the wonderful sounds of the evening. Without the distractions of the day, the night gives us a better chance to think and perhaps philosophize a bit about our place, if not in the grand scheme of things, at least in the world of the garden".
Let me begin by saying that I have the original copy of this book on my bookshelf, and was very pleased to learn that Timber Press had re-released it in paperback. I have always returned to this book for ideas and suggestions when people write questions to the Guru wondering how they can create a garden “on their time”. Isn’t it ironic that we try to create a show-stopping garden that blooms when we are not around, except for the weekend when things are truly hectic, especially if you have young children that need to go here, there and everywhere. There is nothing more pleasing to me than sitting on my porch in the summer time, looking into the wonderful night sky, and having the aroma of my evening jasmine perfuming the air. It is one of my personal ways of de-stressing from a busy day at work.
This book is a wealth of information, from plants, to design ideas for outdoor living spaces, and is a great resource to have and keep for constant perusal, especially in the winter when the planning stages of the new garden year are in the process. Originally published in 1993, the book has 272 pages with 160 b&w illustrations, which retails for $17.95, will be a well-worn paperback in your collection.
Flora: A Gardener's Encyclopedia
by Chief Consultant Sean Hogan
This comprehensive, beautifully illustrated encyclopedia contains information on more than 20,000 plants from all around the world. Organized in an A-to-Z format by botanical name, the individual entries provide a detailed description of each plant and its features, including notes on origin, cultivation requirements, growth habit, propagation, and pests and diseases. The introduction explains how the 12 climatic zones work and looks at the environment and the plants that grow in those zones. Also included are lists of plants suitable for growing in specific areas and ideas for garden design.
Flora covers all the plant groups: trees, shrubs, annuals and perennials, bulbs, corms and tubers, cacti and succulents, lawns, ground covers, ornamental grasses, herbs, vegetables, fruit trees, other fruits, nut trees, palms and cycads, ferns, climbers and creepers, and orchids. Written by a team of international botanical and horticultural writers, this book will allow all gardeners to choose the perfect plants for their garden and to expand their knowledge on the wealth of plants available. The stunning color photography from all around the world is the perfect complement to the text.
This book is a “must have” for any person that wants to know everything about the plants they grow now or would like to incorporate into their garden in the future. I found this book to be easy to use as well as understand, and one of those rare gardening reference books that will be a steadfast companion on my shelf. Not only is there the practical, written information that we all need, but in addition to that is the tremendous photographs that not only show you the plant, but also show you it growing “in the wild”. Just from the pictures you can tell if the plant is properly suited for your own local. A truly useful gardening reference book only comes out once in our lifetimes – this is the book for ours.