Wondering what gift to buy your gardener for Christmas this year?
I have some great gift book ideas for you. This was a banner year for garden books, so I’m writing this post and a second British edition later next week. Of the books sent to me this year, these are my American favorites. Some were published by my publisher, St. Lynn’s Press, while others were published by Storey Publishing, LLC and Timber Press.
First up is Five-Plant Gardens: 52 Ways to Grow a Perennial Garden with Just Five Plants (Storey Publishing 2015), by Nan Ondra. I would buy and read anything Nan wrote. I own most of her books and re-read them in winter for inspiration. There is no one who understands color and plant habit better than Nan. I’ve followed her bog, Hayefield, for years. Each garden in this book is only five plants, hence the name. It’s great if you have a blank landscape and you’re wondering where to start. I especially like that she has a section for each garden called “Season by Season,” her notes about the plants for different garden seasons. As we know, plants are growing and changing all year-long. It’s good to highlight when they will be at their best and when they disappear into the landscape.
A Garden to Dye For: How to Use Plants from the Garden to Create Natural Colors for Fabrics & Fibers (St. Lynn’s Press 2015), by Chris McLaughlin. Have you ever wanted to grow, harvest and then use your plants for dyeing fabric and other beautiful things?
Do you not know where to start? Chris has written a wonderful beginner’s guide to not only using plants for dyes, but also, which plants to grow and how to grow them. It’s a beautiful book too and a wonderful addition to the garden library. Chris blogs at A Suburban Farmer, and she’s the author of six books on homesteading and other home and agricultural arts.
Windowsill Art: Creating One-of-a-Kind Natural Arrangements to Celebrate the Seasons (St. Lynn’s Press 2015), by Nancy Ross Hugo, is pure gold in a small package. The cover of a book is your first chance to see what treasures lie within. Nancy’s cover is a gorgeous thing. Four cobalt blue bottles sit on a white windowsill. Orange zinnias in those bottles announce the book’s title even before you read a word. Inside, are more beautiful pictures of simple bouquets that are works of art. I love Nancy’s process of using brambles, leaves and seeds to make arrangements even in winter. Nancy has authored many books including Seeing Trees: Discover the Extraordinary Secrets of Everyday Trees, one of my all-time favorites. She also writes and photographs windowsill arranging on a blog of the same name.
Coffee for Roses: …and 70 Other Misleading Myths About Backyard Gardening (St. Lynn’s Press 2015), by C.L. Fornari, dispels many garden myths. I often wonder why gardening has so many secret formulas, special dances under the light of the full moon, and simply bad information. I think it’s because the process of growing things is mysterious. To place a seed in the dark earth and wait for it to grow is a simple act of faith. Maybe that’s why we have so many silly superstitions about it. C.L., who has her own blog, gardenlady.com, and radio show, helps you discern what is true and what’s false about our favorite sport in this great book.
Groundbreaking Food Gardens: 73 Plans That Will Change the Way You Grow Your Garden (Storey Publishing 2015), by Niki Jabbour, is jam-packed with style. With seventy-three plans written by garden writers and designers from all over the country, how could you not be inspired? There’s a plan for everyone. One caveat–I’m honored that Niki asked me to draft a plan for the book. It’s on pages 145 to 147. So, I do have a dog in this hunt. A photo of my plan is below.
However, I personally think my design isn’t nearly as creative as some of the others. Niki’s book made it to Amazon’s top gardening books list. I know why. It’s great. Niki also has a blog, The Year-Round Veggie Gardener, and she has a fabulous radio show, the Weekend Gardener. I was blessed to be on her radio show earlier this year.
I also have a book published this year, but you probably know about The 20-30 Something Garden Guide: A No-Fuss, Down and Dirty, Gardening 101 for Anyone Who Wants to Grow Stuff (St. Lynn’s Press 2015.) It’s for garden beginners with the idea of learning something new every year. There are garden plans for balconies, front and backyards, and even a circular garden for the senses. I’m still thrilled that I was able to write a book. I’d like to write another someday.
If your gardener is looking for a larger vegetable gardening book, check out the regional vegetable gardening guides from Timber Press. Mary Ann Newcomer wrote The Timber Press Guide to Vegetable Gardening in the Mountain States and Ira Wallace wrote The Timber Press Guide to Vegetable Gardening in the Southeast. I respect all of the authors who wrote these guides. So far, there isn’t one for our region. However, the one for the southeast would work for part of Oklahoma. Ira Wallace is the guiding hand behind the Southern Exposure Seed Exchange, one of my favorite places to buy seed and listed in my own book as a seed source.
Now for the legal stuff: All of the above books were sent to me for review except the vegetable gardening guides from Timber Press and my own book published by St. Lynn’s Press. When I get a book for review, I always try to be fair whether I know the author or not. Review copies do not affect my opinions.
Can you tell how much I love books? They adorn the walls of my living room and are piled throughout my office. I read something from gardening books every single day, and I find I’m always learning. If you want to help a gardener learn more about their craft, buy them a book. It’s like placing that seed beneath the soil. Something good always comes from it.