Christmas is less than three weeks away and I'm betting there are others out there that are faced with the same dilemma that I am: what to get for Aunt Marie? One of the criteria I use for purchasing gifts for others is to ask myself if I'd like to receive it. Not everyone has the same tastes and interests, but in many cases, it's a good starting point.
I'm a gardener and a reader, so a book that has anything to do with gardening is always a good choice. But there are thousands of books to choose from, so which one to buy for the gardener on your list?
Here are ten of my favorites:
- Planthropology: The Myths, Mysteries, and Miracles of My Garden Favorites
by Ken Druse
I just LOVE this book. It's visually pleasing and is written by a real plant lover. Ken writes about several of his favorite plants in an everything-you-always-wanted-to-know-but-were-afraid-to-ask kind of way. It's a fascinating read, peppered with beautiful photography, in a coffee table format. You can't go wrong with this one.
- The Well-Tended Perennial Garden: Planting and Pruning Techniques
by Tracy DiSabato-Aust
Tracy has earned her credentials as a gardener in-the-know and in this bestseller, she shares her tips for growing a beautiful garden. She's written other excellent books, but this is the best selling of them. I have personal knowledge that she knows what she's talking about, because I've met her and seen her garden in central Ohio.
by Anna Pavord
As far as I'm concerned, most bulbs are success stories in the garden, in that they require some of least care of anything you could plant. As long as you choose those that are hardy to your area, or pot up those that aren't (or lift from the garden) and bring them in for the winter, you can enjoy their beauty year after year.
Ms. Pavord helps you make important decisions about what to plant, where to plant it, and how. All the essential information is here, and it's beautifully presented.
- What's Wrong With My Plant? (And How Do I Fix It?): A Visual Guide to Easy Diagnosis and Organic Remedies
by David Deardorff and Kathryn Wadsworth
No matter how good a gardener you are, you're going to encounter problems with your plants. This guide will help you diagnose and treat those problems. Help doesn't come in a much easier way than this.
- The Perennial Care Manual: A Plant-by-Plant Guide: What to Do and When to Do It
by Nancy Ondra
Perennials are the mainstays of the garden and Nancy tells us the basics of their care in easy-to-find and follow manner. The best thing about this how-to guide is that Nancy is a genuine gardener who has learned what works and what doesn't through her own experience and you'll recognize that as you follow her great advice.
- The Curious Gardener's Almanac: Centuries of Practical Garden Wisdom
by Niall Edworthy
This may very well be the perfect gift book for the gardener on your list. It's jam-packed with valuable information in a fun format. It's easy to read because of its presentation in bite-sized morsels of fascinating facts and gardening tips. Even a non-gardener would enjoy this book.
- Gardening All-in-One for Dummies by the National Gardening Association
This one is for the novice gardener on your list. As silly as it might sound, this really is a good overall guide to gardening. It provides an overview of gardening basics in easy-to-understand terms and in such a way that encourages everyone to give it a try.
- American Horticultural Society A to Z Encyclopedia of Garden Plants
by Christopher Brickell
At 1,104 pages, this is a hefty book, loaded with just about anything you'd ever want to know about more than 15,000 plants, with over 6,000 photos. It's the definitive plant guide and well worth the cost of $80. Shopping hint: Amazon offers it for $50.40, with free shipping.
- From the Ground Up: The Story of a First Garden
by Amy Stewart
I've mentioned before on this blog that I think this book is charming and a delight to read. It provides encouragement for new gardeners and seasoned ones will smile as they see themselves in Amy's story of her first garden.
- My final suggestion isn't a book, although there is a publication involved. A membership to the American Horticultural Society is the best value out there. For $35 a year, you get six issues of The American Gardener, a quality magazine that always contains practical gardening information. But the best part of being a member of the AHS is their reciprocal membership benefit. This alone more than pays for the cost of membership.
In one year, I enjoyed free entry to Marie Selby Gardens ($12), the Cincinnati Flower Show ($20 weekday, $25 weekend), Cleveland Botanical Gardens ($7.50), and numerous visits to my local Foellinger-Freimann Botanical Conservatory ($5). You can get a dual membership (two memberships) for $50, although only one magazine subscription will be provided. Romie and I have a dual membership so we can both enjoy free admission to the various gardens we visit together.
The AHS is a non-profit organization and $25 of membership fees are tax deductible. ($10 is for the cost of the magazine subscription.)
There are hundreds of great gardening books out there and hundreds which I haven't yet read. Which ones are among your favorites?