22 Top Picks for Garden Books Featured on The Daily Gardener Podcast April 2019

Grow That Garden Library

“My beginning, started with rare books on plants and garden plants, mostly French or Italian. They were like my Bibles.“ ~Bunny Mellon

Tovah offers lots of excellent ideas for using everyday objects as terrariums - which is something I love to do as well.

Some of my homemade terrariums include clear cake plates stands and covers for miniature aquatic plants, display boxes which I line with plastic, and using a huge clear vase turned upside down on an old silver platter is a stunning way to showcase a small orchid or fern.


Researching Merian, lead me to the poet Allison Funk’s fantastic book Wonder Rooms.  
In Wonder Rooms, Funk has a series of 8 poems called "Maria Sibylla Merian's Metamorphoses”.  Each poem captures moments in Merian's life between 1647 and 1717.  The poems are nested like Russian dolls. The first poem Is nested in the second poem; the second poem is nested within the third, and so on.


Today's Book Recommendation: A Wilder Time by William Glassley
The John Burroughs Association was formed to preserve his legacy.  Every April, on the first Monday, they gather in New York City to present the John Burroughs Medal, John Burroughs Nature Essay Award and Riverby Awards to the authors, illustrators, and publishers of the best-published nature writing.  This year’s winner is:

A Wilder Time: Notes from a Geologist at the Edge of The Greenland Ice, by William Glassley, published by Bellevue Literary Press, 2018
A Wilder Time: Notes from a Geologist at the Edge of The Greenland Ice is a rich literary account of six expeditions to Greenland, where the author sought (and found) Earth’s earliest signs yet of plate tectonics, the slow-motion movement, and collisions of continents. Anchored by deep reflection and scientific knowledge, A Wilder Time is a portrait of an ancient, nearly untrammeled world that holds the secrets of our planet’s deepest past, even as it accelerates into our rapidly changing future. The book bears the literary, scientific, philosophic, and poetic qualities of a nature-writing classic, the rarest mixture of beauty and scholarship.
William E. Glassley is a geologist at the University of California, Davis, and an emeritus researcher at Aarhus University, Denmark, focusing on the evolution of continents and the processes that energize them. He received his Ph.D. from the University of Washington, Seattle, and is the author of over seventy research articles and a textbook on geothermal energy. He lives in Santa Fe, New Mexico.
Other notable recognized authors include Rachel Carson for her book the sea around us and Aldo Leopold for a Sand County Almanac.

This exhibition originated at the Yale Center for British Art and ended at Fitzwilliam in Cambridge. A visually magnificent book.  Published in 2009, new it sells for $45. Used copies are available on Amazon for less than $10.


Paxton was, by all accounts, a genius.  It was Charles Dickens who dubbed him, "The Busiest Man in England."

The book features 18 gardens and 20 writers; the author reveals how the gardens were tended and enjoyed.

The book highlights the gardens of:

Jane Austen at Godmersham and Chawton
Rupert Brooke at Grantchester
John Ruskin at Brantwood
Agatha Christie at Greenway
Beatrix Potter at Hill Top
Roald Dahl at Gipsy House
Charles Dickens at Gad's Hill Place
Virginia Woolf at Monk's House
Winston Churchill at Chartwell
Laurence Sterne at Shandy Hall
George Bernard Shaw at Shaw's Corner
Ted Hughes at Lumb Bank
Henry James followed by E.F. Benson at Lamb House
John Clare at Helpston
Thomas Hardy at Hardy's Cottage and Max Gate
Robert Burns at Ellisland
William Wordsworth at Cockermouth and Grasmere
Walter Scott at Abbotsford
Rudyard Kipling at Bateman's

Brimming with gorgeous artwork from New York Times bestselling author and artist Katie Daisy, this fresh-as-a-daisy guided journal features thoughtful prompts to encourage engagement with the natural world. From bird-spotting advice to camping checklists, each exercise is executed in the artist's lovely signature style.


An award-winning garden designer's practical how-to book with stories and philosophy.
The Garden Awakening is a step-by-step manual to help create a garden in harmony with the life force in the earth; addressing not only what the people in charge of the land want but also asking what the land wants to become. Mary Reynolds demonstrates how to create a groundbreaking garden that is not simply a solitary space but an expanding, living, interconnected ecosystem. Drawing on old Irish ways and methods of working with the land, this beautiful book is both art and inspiration for any garden lover seeking to create a positive, natural space.

In real life, Treat actually exchanged letters with Darwin Asa Gray. She is referenced in Darwin's book Insectivorous Plants.  She published 5 books and over 70 articles; there are four species named after her. She studied insects, carnivorous plants, and general botany.  Treat put spiders in candy jars filled with moss and plants - 
"so that my nervous lady friends may admire the plants without being shocked with the knowledge that each of these jars is the home of a spider."

Treat talked to all living things; she was an amazing woman who helped establish our understanding of carnivorous plants.

If you are interested in other early naturalists of Michigan, there is a terrific book by Dr. Edward G. Voss entitled “Botanical Beachcombers and Explorers: Pioneers of the 19th Century in the Upper Great Lakes,” published in 1978 by University of Michigan Herbarium.


This Atlas invites the reader to tour the farthest reaches of the rainforest in search of exotic―poetic―plant life. Guided in these botanical encounters by Francis Hallé, who has spent forty years in pursuit of the strange and beautiful plant specimens of the rainforest, the reader discovers a plant with just one solitary, monumental leaf; an invasive hyacinth; a tree that walks; a parasitic laurel; and a dancing vine.
Further explorations reveal the Rafflesia arnoldii, the biggest flower in the world, with a crown of stamens and pistils the color of rotten meat that exude the stench of garbage in the summer sun; underground trees with leaves that form a carpet on the ground above them; and the biggest tree in Africa, which can reach seventy meters (more than 200 feet) in height, with a four-meter (about 13 feet) diameter. Hallé's drawings, many in color, provide a witty accompaniment.
Like any good tour guide, Hallé tells stories to illustrate his facts. Readers learn about, among other things, Queen Victoria's rubber tree; legends of the moabi tree (for example, that powder from the bark confers invisibility); a flower that absorbs energy from a tree; plants that imitate other plants; a tree that rains; and a fern that clones itself.
Hallé's drawings represent an investment in time that returns a dividend of wonder more satisfying than the ephemeral thrill afforded by the photograph. The Atlas of Poetic Botany allows us to be amazed by forms of life that seem as strange as visitors from another planet.

In this reprint of a 1983 book, venerable English horticulturist, painter, and writer Graham Stuart Thomas recounts his journey from his first garden to the present day, charmingly describing the three gardens he has owned and the plants he has tended in each. Includes some 750 plant profiles, eight plant portraits painted by the author, and (poorly reproduced) color and b&w photographs, also by the author. Distributed by Timber Press. 


Studio Oh offers inspired collections of finely crafted and cleverly designed journals and other decorative home accessories.  Their new cactus line of products will be a sure hit with gardeners.

Davison worked at the Royal Horticultural Society's library, and she unearthed a collection of handwritten letters that dated back to 1822. The letters had been written by young gardeners including one from a young Joseph Paxton (Books By This Author), who would go on to become one of our best-known gardeners and architects. Using their letters, Fiona Davison traces the stories of a handful of these forgotten gardeners whose lives would take divergent paths to create a unique history of gardening.

The trail took her from Chiswick to Bolivia and uncovered tales of fraud, scandal and madness - and, of course, a large number of fabulous plants and gardens. This is a celebration of the unsung heroes of horticulture whose achievements reflect a golden moment in British gardening, and continue to influence how we garden today.

This is a beautifully illustrated giftable gardening reference book, combining exquisite botanical illustrations with practical indoor projects. Readers can discover over 70 life-changing plants and 12 home-transforming projects. Each project is described and illustrated with step-by-step photographs. Starting from the premise that we want to show how to grow the right plant in the right place, we demonstrate the benefits of all common house plants and how to care and curate them in the home. Includes cacti, succulents, bromeliads including air plants, foliage house plants, flowering house plants, house plants for scent and air freshening.


A watercolorist who lives near Moray Firth in Scotland, the author composed this alphabet for her grandchildren. The delightful messages describing the flowers on each page are hand-lettered. The description says it was "Just right for a rainy day" and "a delightful picture-book".

This book was commissioned by the Arboretum to celebrate its centennial.  It is both a biography of Sargent and a history of the Arnold Arboretum.

In 1872, Sargent was given the responsibility of creating the arboretum for Harvard and he did it all from scratch; there were no arboreta in America to model. His enduring vision for the Arboretum was of such perfection that subsequent directors have followed it with few variations. 

Williams follows the expeditions of over a dozen explorers who "botanized" the Rocky Mountains. These intrepid explorers felt Western Flora was special and unique. The title of the book comes from a quote by botanist Edwin James who said in 1820 as he emerged above timberline in Colorado to come upon "a region of astonishing beauty."

In addition to his marvelous professional legacy, this book offers an intimate look at the personal life of Frederick Law Olmsted. His momentous career was shadowed by a tragic personal life, also fully portrayed here.

With more than 200 garden and landscape terms, Garden-pedia is meant to teach, to provide perspectives on terms, and to answer commonly-asked questions. The idea for the book started with Maria Zampini needing to explain basic terms and practices to new hires in the nursery industry and was expanded by Master Gardener Pam Bennett’s experiences with teaching home gardeners.


Mastering the Art of Vegetable Gardening is your "201" level course in cultivating produce. Expand your knowledge base and discover options that go beyond the ordinary!

Prepare to encounter new varieties of common plant species, learn their history and benefits, and, most of all, identify fascinating new edibles to grow in your own gardens. Written by gardening expert Matt Mattus, Mastering the Art of Vegetable Gardening offers a wealth of new and exciting opportunities, alongside beautiful photography, lore, insight, and humor that can only come from someone who has grown each vegetable himself and truly loves gardening.

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