More great garden books(Read article summary)
Garden writers recommend more of the books that really impressed them in the past year.
Are you looking for an outstanding garden book, one that's a keeper and you refer to over and over?
I asked some of my fellow garden writers to recommend the best garden books they read last year. (Click here to read the first part of this discussion, which is filled with even more recommendations.)
Mentors in the garden and in life
âIt is a series of short stories about family, friends, life, plants, and how they all tie together over the course of a lifetime. Really, it's soulful and delicious.â
If youâd like to see what others think, Martha also provided a link to the Amazon reviews of âMentors in the Garden of Life.â
And hereâs a You Tube video of Colleen reading from the book.
Dan Clost, who writes the Good Earth column for a Canadian newspaper and is the author of âTake Time: Reflections for Gentle Reader,â also recommends âMentors in The Garden of Life.â In fact, he calls it his âfavorite readâ of the year.
" âMentors in the Garden of Lifeâ is different from any gardening book I have read,â he says. âThe pages are filled with the people who colored Colleen's life with the love of gardening. This is a testimony that graces the folks who passed on gardening knowledge, mostly, to her from the earliest days 'til present.
âOne of Colleen's abilities is the knack of bringing these people to life, so much so that their personages form in your mind so clearly that you might have a conversation with them.â
Along with several writers in yesterdayâs post, Carolyn Ulrich, editor of Chicagoland Gardening magazine, recommends âRobin Lane Fox's book âThoughtful Gardeningâ (Basic Books, $29.95). âHis short essays are interesting, informative, and based on 40 years of gardening, writing, and traveling to gardens around the world,â she says.
âWhile I was taken aback by his negative opinions of some environmentalists and organic gardeners, I think he is mainly reacting to starry-eyed enthusiasm that can be based more on wishful thinking than evidence. The book is âthoughtful,â and it does encourage us all to think more cogently about our own positions.â
Click here to see a wonderful video of Mr. Foxâs garden and hear him talk about gardening.
Shrubs and vines for your garden
âAs someone who has purchased shrubs from the Gosslers [Gossler Farms Nursery] for probably close to two decades, I loved their first book, "The Gossler Guide to the Best Hardy Shrubs: More than 350 Expert Choices for Your Garden" by Roger Gossler, Eric Gossler and Marjory Gossler (Timber Press, $34.95),â says Betty Earl, who regularly blogs here at Digginâ It.
âFor all those years, I have enjoyed their casual, but always information-laden catalogs. So I was thrilled when these very practical, experience driven descriptions gleaned in the catalogs were expanded to their 350 favorite shrubs, in book form,â she says.
âThe book has, as most books usually do, advice about the care and maintenance of shrubs, plant categories, and lessons learned from people's gardens. The A to Z plant profiles of the 350 favorite shrubs include the best characteristics of each shrub, the height and spread, and optimum growing conditions; all this accompanied by colorful photographs of the shrubs.
âHowever, for me, the highlight of the book,â she adds, âis in the introductory chapters, especially in one titled âHow Not to Kill Your Plants,â which gives plenty of advice on how to select, buy, plant, and nurture the new âshrubby children.â How can the reader not love such sage advice as, âFinally, don't be afraid to ask a grower how they raised the plants you are about to buy. Consider it an open adoption: You want to know about the birth parents, what neighborhood the plant came from, whether drugs were involved, and so on. These simple questions can affect the ultimate survival of any purchase.â "
"I'd like to recommend "Armitage's Vines and Climbers" (Allan Armitage, Timber Press, $29.95) as a top book of 2010, one that's been needed for a long time," says Sharon Thompson, well-known South Carolina garden writer and speaker.
"It's full of excellent advice delivered in Armitage's usual humor on a plant category that seems so benign at first planting, but can turn on you in the proverbial blink of an eye. He covers the good, bad, and ugly of vineage, introducing little known but well-behaved substitutions for some of Vinelands worst thugs. Suitable for all levels of gardeners."
Cathy Wilkinson Barash, whoâs written some outstanding books of her own, including âEdible Flowers from Garden to Palate,â made a to-the-point comment: âOf course, I think Ros Creasyâs 'Edible Landscaping' (Sierra Club Books, $39.95) was a great new book last year."
Sheâs talking about the new edition of "The Complete Book of Edible Landscaping," originally published in 1982, which became a classic that showed gardeners that growing food didnât have to take place in the backyard or be strictly utilitarian.
Calling this book a revision does it an injustice. This book is all new â and waiting to show a new generation of gardeners that they can have a gorgeous garden and eat it too, as Ros says.
Also a big fan of âEdible Landscapingâ is Nan Sterman, garden designer, TV host, and speaker who blogs at Plant Soup and is the author of âCalifornia Gardener's Guide Vol. IIâ and âWaterwise Plants for the Southwest.â
âRos Creasy's new âEdible Landscapingâ gets my vote, hands down,â Nan says. âIt is without a doubt the most beautiful book I've ever seen, and one of the most important books of the year. Her first edition jump-started a revolution in gardening back in the early 1980s. This new edition will have an even bigger impact as a whole new generation is primed for exactly what it offers.
âAnd, in the intervening years,â she adds, âRos has become the consummate photographer and writer. The book is fabulous.â
I agree that the book is fabulous and will have a more detailed review next week, so youâll know just why you need to own this gorgeous book.