General Discussion:

Favourite Gardening Books

Messages posted to thread:

pamela07-Mar-01 12:32 AM EST   
Susan07-Mar-01 08:11 AM EST   
The Budding Poet07-Mar-01 09:18 AM EST   
JoanneS07-Mar-01 01:49 PM EST   
The Budding Poet07-Mar-01 04:00 PM EST   
Dee07-Mar-01 05:33 PM EST   
Ann07-Mar-01 07:50 PM EST   
Donna07-Mar-01 07:57 PM EST   
Susan07-Mar-01 09:27 PM EST   
Duncan McAlpine09-Mar-01 09:49 AM EST   

Subject: Favourite Gardening Books
From: pamela
Date: 07-Mar-01 12:32 AM EST

What gardening books do you like? What makes you like them? Are they "keepers" (meaning you would recommend buying them) or are they "loaners" (you'd read them, but only if they were in your library or owned by a friend).

I have a couple of favourites. I own 2 Lois Hole books that I definately think are keepers: Favourite Bedding Plants, and Favourite Perennials. (see the "hanging basket" thread)

I also think the Harrowsmith Perennial Garden, by Patrick Lima (1987, Camden House, Ontario)is a keeper. This is such a lovely book. The author is personable, the pictures are beautiful, and the individual plant descriptions are instructive.

I also have The Calgary Gardener by the Calgary Horticultural Society (1996). This book may be less useful for people who do not live in Calgary but it is a good general book on how to plan, start and keep a garden. It covers trees, shrubs, roses, bulbs, perennials, watering, composting and enjoying a garden. It also has pretty pictures. It was the first gardening book I ever bought and definately a keeper. Likely a good book for anybody starting out a garden in southern Alberta or similar situation.

Finally, a book that I enjoy picking up and reading snippets of every so often is The Complete Book of Garden Magic by Roy E. Biles (1941, the American Home, New York). As you can see it is a bit dated. It is sometimes amusing because of its age. For example, after telling the reader of the importance of planning a garden and making a scale plan of the garden on graph paper, the author says, "If you have trouble understanding this method, ask some of your friends to help you. Most men understand drawing to scale and a great may of them have fitted furniture in their stores, offices or homes by cutting out little cardboard pieces the right size and shape and moving them around on the plan until they fit." I'm glad that in the 60 years since this book was written, women have learned to understand scale. Some women might even have used graph paper to fit furniture into their stores offices or homes...

Some of the dated information is less quaint or amusing. I find it chilling to read some of my old gardening books and see the frequent recommendations to use DDT. Some of my old books were written when DDT was the panacea for all gardening problems.I think, boy, weren't they naive. I then wonder what will somebody 60 years from now think about our current philosophies...

And your recommendations, please. Pamela

Subject: RE: Favourite Gardening Books
From: Susan
Date: 07-Mar-01 08:11 AM EST

I agree that Patrick Lima's Perennial book is a must-have - beautiful pictures for inspiration and informative text.

Christopher Brickell's Encyclopedia of Plants and Flowers is my constant reference source.

Since moving to this house in late 1999, I've been forced into shade gardening/woodland gardening by the extent of beautiful mature trees and have come to be fascinated by it - Made for Shade by Judy Gatttstein is my current most popular book. Shade/woodland gardening is now of more interest to me than the sunny perennial borders (of which I now have only one!) and it's largely due to this book (and also Ken Druse's The Natural Shade Garden, although this one is more of a 'coffee table' beautiful picture book than a reference...) I've just sent a copy of Made for Shade to a friend in NB who is planting a 3+ acre pasture in trees and shrubs as she no longer needs the pasture since she sold her horse. I'm wildly envious of her opportunity to build such an interesting garden! She hadn't really thought about the fact that she's really starting a woodland garden from scratch, so I sent her this book to 'educate' her and told her to look for Ken Druse's book in a library for more inspiration.

I guess that's really the two reasons why I buy gardening books - either for reference/'education' or for inspiration ( - the coffee table picture-book types where you read the text as a bit of an afterthought...)

Subject: RE: Favourite Gardening Books
From: The Budding Poet
Date: 07-Mar-01 09:18 AM EST


I must have been a little dreary eyed last night and neglected to notice you had started this new thread. A lover of good gardening books never goes to bed alone.Here are a few of my favorites.

When I am thirsty to intimately learn about some rare and unusual perennials I reach for "The Explorers Garden" by Dan Hinkley........ ..............

When I want to travel the globe and view superb plant photos of flowers in their native habitats or beautiful gardens, I reach for "Perennials" by Roger Phillips and Martyn Rix..................................................................

When I am looking for creative inspiration, I reach for my dogeared copy of the award winning "The Undaunted Gardener" by Lauren Springer. ...................................................

When I have had a hard day and need something a little lighter I will reach for one of Des Kenedys' charming books"Crazy about Gardening","The Gardening Club", "An Ecology of Enchantment". He has such a wonderful way with words though, and is such a born again nut that it is hard to put down until the wee hours of the morning.

I cut my gardening teeth on Jim Crocket's books "The Flower Garden"and "the Victory Garden" and love to treat myself to a read every once in awhile,

When I need Indiana Jones adventure I reach for the diaries of Chinese Wilson, David Douglas or Frank Kingdom-Ward.

If I want a wild night, "Enjoying Wildflowers" by Donald and Lilian Stokes is always a treat.

When I need something heavy to put me to sleep, HortusIII will do it every time but it makes a terrible pillow.

Must sign off now and hit the sack ..... the monitor's cord is too short

Subject: RE: Favourite Gardening Books
From: JoanneS
Date: 07-Mar-01 01:49 PM EST

Susan, I am interested in one of your favourites - C. Burkell's Encyclopedia. Is this a Canadian book? Is it extensive? I've been using a great encyclopedia (one of my husband's first gifts to me) for years, but it is geared to the U.S. market, and is now getting out of date. Last year I had trouble locating some newer selections in my encyclopedia. I think it is time to upgrade.

Subject: RE: Favourite Gardening Books
From: The Budding Poet
Date: 07-Mar-01 04:00 PM EST


If you can still find it Chris Bricknell's "Gardeners encyclopedia", do treat yourself. It is a comprehensive guide to over 8000 plants, with over 4000 photos. It was published by Readers Digest ~ ten years ago in Montreal, and sold for~ $50. Mr Bricknell was the Director General of RHS. Besides a great index descibing every species, for us mortals there is also an index of common names.

I must confess to having borrowed it so many times from a local garden club library that the librarian started calling it my book. Shamed, I purchased my own copy but then took over the librarians job , so now I have two copies to access.

One criticism -The binding on both copies is showing wear and tear and should have been tougher.

If memory serves me right Trevor Cole, the great curator of the garden at the CCEF in Ottawa, when it was in its heyday was editor-in-chief of a similar book for Readers Digest shortly afterwards.

Thanks for the note on the other thread. I must get a sip of sherry and let the pen have some fun.

Subject: RE: Favourite Gardening Books
From: Dee
Date: 07-Mar-01 05:33 PM EST

I just did a search for Chris Brickell's book on the Chapters website and came up with quite a few. Budding Poet, are you talking about "Gardener's Encyclopedia Of Plants And Flowers" which is 608 pages and published in March 2000 or "A-z Encyclopedia Of Garden Plants" which is 1092 pages and published in 1997? Both are published by Reader's Digest.

Subject: RE: Favourite Gardening Books
From: Ann
Date: 07-Mar-01 07:50 PM EST

None of that rhymes, Budding poet, I miss them.

Subject: RE: Favourite Gardening Books
From: Donna
Date: 07-Mar-01 07:57 PM EST

I hate to spoil this wonderful thread by interupting you all, but I would love it if you could send some reviews in of the books we have in our bookshelf area, that you might have is knowledge like this, that is so good for anyone buying many books out there are just pretty pictures..but now a days, with the cost so high for books, it really helps to have an opinion of them to help you...I hope to hear from you...

Subject: RE: Favourite Gardening Books
From: Susan
Date: 07-Mar-01 09:27 PM EST

Re Christopher Brickell's Encylopedia - the one I have and like is the 'original' version which is about 10+ or so years old by a British publisher. It's the same one later published by Reader's Digest - the 608 page one. The A-Z came out a bit more recently, costs more, has more plants covered, and is organized differently. I preferred the original. I just tried to order it from Chapters in November as a Christmas gift for a friend. A few weeks ago I got tired of waiting for it and asked them if they were ever going to deliver it! - They finally told me it was out of print and the publisher was unsure if they were going to re-issue it, so I cancelled the order, went to the Indigo site, ordered it from there and got it in a week! They obviously had a few still in stock! So if you want it, it might be hard to find. The newer one may be easier to find...

Subject: RE: Favourite Gardening Books
From: Duncan McAlpine
Date: 09-Mar-01 09:49 AM EST

The one my Grandfather gave me. He said it was 125 dollar when he bought it way back when in the 1930s.

Standard Cyclopedia of Horticulture from Bailey.

I have an older volume... they are great to find out of date latin names and to read the new introduction they found at that time.

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