If you are looking for a book for your favorite gardener for the
holidays I would like to give you a list of my favorite books. They
are my favorite books because I use them often for reference; I use
them to help give you the best gardening information from true
professionals. When I write the weekly newsletter, I want to help
stimulate you to become a better gardener and these are some of the
books I use to do that. All these books are available on the internet
or at your local book store and I know that your favorite gardener
will appreciate receiving any of the following.
My first love is trees and shrubs. While attending the Stockbridge
School of Agriculture, University of Massachusetts, I had a great text
book but it took until 1997 for a book written about these plants by
Professor Michael A. Dirr, PhD from University of Georgia. The book is
called Dirr's Hardy Trees and Shrubs, and it is not for
just the college student but for anyone who wants information about
the plants in their yard and suggestions of new plants to add to their
property. A more sizable book was quickly released, with all the
hybrids of every plant type listed in his first book and more
detailed information added to it. The book is called Dirr's
Manual of Woody Landscape Plants. In 2011 Dirr’s
Encyclopedia of Trees and Shrubs was released, with over 500
plants featured in it. It is full of beautiful pictures of every
plant you need to have in your yard, along with the information on
how to grow them. The book is filled with pictures of every plant in
leaf, in flower, fall color and the plant special characteristics.
This is my favorite book of trees and shrubs.
If you're looking for a great book for maintenance of the trees
and shrubs growing on your property, look no further than Pirone's
Tree Maintenance. It's a classic reference and it has been
revised and updated since I used it in school back in the late 60's.
One final book if insects are your thing: Garden Insects of North
America by Whitney Cranshaw, a real guide to backyard bugs. It
is filled with thousands of picture of insects, their life cycle and
how to control them. I use it often to help determine what is causing
problems in the garden during the year.
If you're growing fruit trees--or even thinking of planting a
couple trees for fresh fruit--then I want to suggest a wonderful
fruit tree book called The Backyard Orchardist, by Stella
Otto. All your fruit trees are covered in detail in a way that you
can understand--something hard to find today in books. Stella has
worked in the family orchard all her life and gives you information
as if she is talking to you directly. If you're going to grow fruit
trees for the next 50 years in your yard, then this is the book for
Do you like the taste of fresh berries, grapes and brambles? Then
I recommend that you consider The Berry Growers Companion by
Barbara L. Bowling. Her book covers all the major berries you have
seen in the supermarket, attempted to grow in your garden, or even
considered growing in your garden. This book has great information
from start to finish--including history of the plants, insect
control, pruning, feeding, and variety selection for your area of the
country. Also tips to have the best crop possible, and the book is
easy to understand for the beginner or well experienced berry grower.
It also covers many minor berries found at specialty markets that you
can now grow in your garden.
I have two favorite vegetable gardening books for you to consider.
The first is Vegetable Gardening (a Readers Digest book) by
Fern Marshall Bradley and Jane Courtier. The book covers everything:
soil preparation, growing structures, sowing and planting, growing
from seed indoors or directly in the garden and much more. All your
garden vegetables have a special chapter of their own that goes into
detail about that special plant. Variety suggestions, insect control,
and possible disease problems are there to help you along during the
growing season. Harvesting and storage and when to plant according to
your area information is very helpful, but especially helpful are the
many colorful pictures that help to show you what will happen with
that package of seed you bought this spring--if you take the time to
read the information before going into the garden.
The second book is The Vegetable Gardener's Bible by
Edward C. Smith, a Story Book publication from Vermont. Great
information on growing in raised beds, wide row gardening, creating
deep rich soil, and mulching. Suggestions on organic methods of
gardening, structures to save space, watering and feeding
suggestions, many ideas on crop rotation, composting, and some
information on the most common insect and disease problems we all
experience in our garden. The second half of the book is filled with
everything you will need to know how to grow that special vegetable
from seed or from seedlings to the finished product. Great pictures,
great tips, and great idea on growing your favorite vegetables with
many variety suggestions included of each vegetables.
This summer I picked up three books from the same author--Rosalind
Creasy--and have enjoyed all three books. The Complete Book of
Edible Landscaping, The Edible Flower Garden and The
Edible Herb Garden will give you great ideas on changing your
planting habits. The books are filled with wonderful pictures; of
plants we all have in the garden, how to grow them, and how to use
the flowers, foliage, or roots in food we eat every day or to change
the appearance of that common green garden salad. The use of roses in
a salad, nasturtium on a pizza, squash blossoms in your scrambled
eggs or over pasta and more. Fun books with lots of great ideas of
things to do with herbs and flowers that you now grow in the garden.
If you like the flavor that herbs give your cooking, then you will
need to look at The Herb Bible: A Complete Guide to Growing and
Using Herbs by Jennie Harding. You will find propagation
methods, harvesting of the usable parts of the herbs, preserving the
herbs fresh, frozen, or dried, use of herbs in oils--and then the
recipes included for fresh use to your favorite dishes. Also included
is a lot of information on medicinal use, active ingredients found in
plant, how to grow and cultivation methods.
In the flower garden, you will enjoy Perennials for Every
Purpose by Larry Hodgson. This book will tell you just about
everything you will need to know on how to select, grow, and care for
your perennials. A great book for beginners or established
gardeners who want to know more about perennial flowers and are
looking for new plants to add to their gardens. Many garden design
ideas, insect and disease problems, as well as animal problems. Look
over 400 pages of detailed information on over 200 perennials that
can be found at your local garden center or started from seed or
division from a friend's garden. Full of growing tips,
recommendations, good neighbors to plant in the garden, and the best
Another wonderful flower book is The Complete Flower Gardener
from Burpee Seed Co., written by Karen Davis Cutler and Barbara W.
Ellis. This book is filled with flower basics, how your soil will
affect your results, planting and caring for the plants in the
garden, how to handle and care for insects and disease problems
during the year, garden equipment and much more. It has great
chapters on individual flowers and how to grow them in your garden,
and what they need to grow. You also get a bit of history about the
special flowers you are considering growing in your garden and where
they came from originally; what varieties are best for your garden
and much more.
If you like bulbs for your garden, then check out this book, The
Complete book of Bulbs and Bulb Gardening, by Kathy Brown. All
your favorite bulbs that flower in the spring, summer and, yes, in
the fall of the year are in this book. Buying and planting bulbs in
your garden, in your lawn, under trees and in containers.
Hard-to-find information on propagating and dividing your bulbs,
rhizomes, corms, and tubers and the right time of the year to do it.
Timely and useful information on the insects and the diseases that
cause problems that can affect the bulbs growing in your gardens.
Great ideas about designing bulb gardens by the season,
naturalizing, and growing techniques for indoor or outside gardens.
One last flower book is called the Guide to Garden Flowers,
from Simon and Schuster's, and written by Guido Moggi and Luciano
Giugnolini. Look at more than 500 full-color flower pictures of the
world's most beautiful flowers, and find information on how to grow
them in your garden. Wonderful descriptions of the flowers,
how-to-care-for tips, flowering seasons, and requirements needed to
grow in your garden. A small sized book filled with information at
If you love houseplants, then here is my favorite book: The
Complete Houseplant Survival Manual, by Barbara Pleasant. This
book will tell you how to keep your houseplants thriving and how not
to keep killing more than 160 common and unusual houseplants. The
book is filled with great pictures of the plants and all the
information you will need to grow them in your home all year long--no
matter the season. Tips on light, temperature, fertilizer, water,
type of soil the plant prefers, potting and propagation. One of the
special sections on each plant is the troubleshooting page--filled
with great information.
If you're looking to purchase one book that has a bit of
everything in it: annuals, perennials, vegetables, bulbs, shrubs,
trees, fruit, roses, and the lawn--then look no further than The
Garden Primer, by a wonderful Maine gardener named Barbara
Damrosch. This book has been revised several times and has a lot of
organic gardening information in it. The book is filled with planning
information, planting tips and care needed for a successful
gardening. Over 370 plants are covered and timely advice, tips and
some unusual garden wisdom is given to make gardening fun again. A
great book to curl up with on a winter night by the fire place—and
it's written so you easily understand what she is telling you to do.
If you're fed up with mowing the lawn and want more from your open
spaces, look at Covering Ground by Barbara W. Ellis. Great
suggestions on covering the ground with colorful, low-maintenance
ground covers. Plants for the sun or shade, wet or dry growing
conditions--and everything in between--is found in this book. Also
information on native plants, woodland plants, vining ground covers,
and plants that can become aggressive and possibly invasive when used
in the garden. Hundreds of pictures and detailed information on every
plant for every part of your yard are found in this book. You will
want less grass when you have this book in your collection.
In the fall, when you go to the big fairs and see those super-size
giant pumpkins and wonder how they did it, the answer is simple: How
to grow World Class Giant Pumpkins 3, by Don Langevin. This book
has everything you need to know on how to grow those giant pumpkins,
the best place to grow them, watering, feeding, pruning, soil
preparation, seed selection, and trouble-shooting. Also groups and
associations who live for a bigger pumpkin and all the records they
hold. This is not just a hobby,, it is a science--and this book will
make you grow bigger pumpkins.
Traditionally the fall is when most of us begin to feed the birds
but perhaps not, with the new book from the National Audubon Society
called The Bird Garden, by Stephen W Kress. This is a
comprehensive guide to attracting birds to your back yard all year
long. Landscaping for the birds, nesting structures, when and what to
feed the birds, planting fruit bearing shrubs and trees for the
birds, plants for winter shelter and spring nesting and back yards
ponds and bird baths. Hundreds of pictures of birds and information
about the birds' needs, their songs and why they will (or won't) come
into your yard.
If you live in a shady lot and are having problems growing
anything, then you must look at Making the most of Shade, by
Larry Hodgson. Learn how to plan, plant, and grow a great garden in
the shade. You will also be able to grow a garden that will light up
your yard and use the shadows to your advantage. Featuring hundreds
of plants for the shade and how to grow them, useful tips to help
them grow better in your garden, the problems and solutions of
growing a shade garden, and the top performers of each plant variety.
If your yard is like the desert and nothing will grow, look at
this new book: Dry Land Gardening: Plants that Survive and Thrive
in Tough Conditions, by Jennifer Bennett. You will find annuals,
perennial, bulbs, vines, shrubs, and herbs that like dry growing
conditions. If watering is a problem because of water bans or poor
soil, this is the book for you to consider. Look at the great
pictures of these drought-tolerant plants and read the detailed
information on how to grow them when water becomes an issue in your
On the other side of the coin, how about those of you who have a
wet yard to deal with? Look at Managing the Wet Garden, by
John Simmons. Learn about the plants that flourish in this problem
place in your yard. Find out what a wet garden environment is or
learn how to make a wet garden. Great pictures of hundreds of plants
that love wet feet. You'll find valuable information on plants that
will do best when moisture becomes a problem in the garden. You'll
also find help on planning a garden in wet areas where nothing but
weeds grew before.
Looking for the Oriental side and a unique look to your yard? Look
at Feng Shui Garden Design by Antonia Beattie. Learn how to
bring your yard in harmony with mature. Learn the Chinese system of
the elements and how good Oriental design can affect the flow of the
yin and yang. Wonderful pictures that will help you create the
perfect hideaway and create a special place to relax after a hard day
at work. Many water features, walking paths and pavements, Garden
statuary, furniture garden structures and more.
The last book I want to mention is the
Garden Journal, which I sell on my website. I found this journal
at a book show several years ago and feel it is the best tool for the
new gardener to document what has happened during the past year in
their garden. The journal is unique, because it will last for 3 years
and the information you enter in it helps you do a better job the
following year, and all your records are together in one book. Go to
www.paulparent.com and look
These are just a few of my favorite books that will bring
knowledge to your gardening friends and yourself this holiday season.
Turn off the television set and read a good gardening book this
winter--and when spring arrives you will be able to make magic in
your yard. Your local book store or the internet has all of these
books available now as the perfect gift for the gardener.
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