A Gardener’s Reading: 30 Days of Pretty Good Garden Books

A few things I’ve noticed about gardeners over the years: They can be opinionated, they love to learn, and many of them spend winter curled up with a book.

I’m among the winter readers – and garden books, with their mix of science, art and the occasional oddball fact are my favorite kind of books to cozy up with on a winter evening. Over the years, I’ve gathered a pretty good collection of garden books (some of which I keep in my local library and take out when needed). So, for the next month – right up until New Year’s Eve, with a couple of days off here and there – I’ll be reviewing about a book a day – often with a few related titles thrown in for the fun of it. This seems like a good way to start this winter’s read-a-thon and, at the same time, give other gardeners a sense of what kinds of books might be helpful or inspiring to them.

My list is in no way meant to be prescriptive – readers and gardeners alike are too independent-minded and varied in interests to need or want a required reading list. Rather, it’s one gardener’s search for insight into not only how-to garden but why we garden.  (Three out of four Americans keep some kind of garden, according to the National Gardening Association.) For some gardening is purely practical – a way to make the yard look acceptable to the neighbors or to put some cheap, delicious food on the table. For others, it’s a spiritual practice – they see God in every tomato.  I connect with both points of view.

My booklist reflects the quirks of my situation and interests: You’ll find lots of books about northern gardens, some about writing gardeners and gardens in literature, but no fiction and no single-plant guidebooks (Best Hostas Ever, for instance).  You will find cookbooks, but nothing specifically about building the soil. (Two words: Add compost.) Some of the books are new this year, but many are older. I’ve learned from all of them – and a few are good friends that I return to again and again. I hope you’ll offer reading suggestions in the comments.

After all, it’s a long winter here.

A note: In the sidebar, I’ve added a link to Amazon.com’s website, where you can buy some of these books (and I will get a very tiny kickback, if you do). But, if you have an independent bookstore nearby, please check that out, too. I bought many of my garden books at Monkey See, Monkey Read, a great independent store in my hometown.


26 thoughts on “A Gardener’s Reading: 30 Days of Pretty Good Garden Books

  1. Mary, The MN State Horticultural Society will have a used gardening book sale at our Open House Dec 3rd. The books come from member donations as well as titles culled from the MSHS library. There are some great books for any level gardener, and the prices are cheap! http://www.northerngardener.org

  2. I’ve bought several of my books at the MSHS sale. It’s a great event for serious gardeners and readers.

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