My friend Darby called on Black Friday to see if I wanted to do some power shopping. I told her sorry, I was knee deep in work. I didn’t tell her I was snuggled up on the couch under a fuzzy throw with a cup of hot tea, my cat and a stack of brand new gardening books. It was a blustery twenty degrees out and the wind was whipping snow around the yard. When those North winds blow, like most gardeners there is no place I would rather be than curled up on the sofa with a good read. So here are some books I think will make great gifts for the gardeners on your Christmas list.
There was a time when growing orchids was a hobby limited to the rich and richer. But thanks to modern growing techniques and technology, today growing orchids has gone mainstream. On any given day savvy shoppers find real bargains on orchids at big boxes and superstores as well as garden centers and nurseries. If you have a gardener on your shopping list who is “into orchids,” Flora’s Orchids ($59.95,) the stunning new encyclopedia from Timber Press (www.timberpress.com) is an awesome gift.
Lavishly illustrated with 1300 gorgeous color photos, the work covers 1500 orchids including rarely seen species in the wild along with popular cultivated varieties. In addition to a fascinating history – taxonomy, cultivation, propagation and problem solving are covered in very readable prose. Beautifully bound, this stunning work is coffee table quality but will undoubtedly spend most of its time in its owner’s lap.
Anyone who has ever visited the gardens of England will tell you Clematis is an underused plant in American gardens. Magazines depict them showering over mailboxes and smothering the slats of trellises. Pretty to be sure, but there are so many more ways to use them, and Gardening with Clematis: Design and Cultivation by Linda Beutler (Timber Press $34.95 is dedicated to showing and telling both beginning and experienced gardeners how to do it successfully.
To begin with, this is the first major book about clematis written by a North American for North American gardeners And better yet, it’s written by a dirt gardener with a passion for flowers who’s wisdom is gleaned not from other books but hands on experience. Currently Linda Beutler cultivates over 275 clematis on a city lot measuring 50 x 100 feet. They fill pots and scramble over shrubs, up trees, across fences and dance along the ground. Buetler’s conversational style of writing is light and easy, making it a fun read. Interspersed through out the book are color photos that illustrate her prose.
Want to find out how to prune clematis to extend their bloom or how to use them as companions to annuals, perennials, trees and shrubs? It’s all here and it’s a must read for any gardener who wants to pretty up their patch.
My passion for silver plants began more then a dozen years ago when I discovered Helichrysum petiolare, better know as the licorice plant, gilding the gardens in the Cotswold district of England. After two years of searching I finally found the plant in the stall of an herb grower at the Lapeer Farmer’s Market. Today, marketed as an annual, licorice plant is a staple in container plantings. But to my mind it put use of silver plants on American Gardener’s radar screen. And the book, Elegant Silvers: Striking Plants for Every Garden by Jo Ann Gardner and Karen Bussolini ($34.95 Timber Press) is a treasure trove for those of us who love their subtle glow.
Whether choosing to use them as a unifier to tie the garden together or as bold statements in the border, Bussolini and Gardner walk you through the process. Annuals, perennials, shrubs and trees, it’s a lot to cover in a single book, but this duo does a creditable job.
Gardener and Bussolini write in a readable style that provides information that can only garnered from hands on experience growing the plants. The photos are crisp and clear and bring the message to life. Everyone needs some elegant silvers in their garden.
For those looking for inspiration and fresh eyes when designing a garden, Garden Design by Noel Kingsbury ($34.95 Timber Press) is a perfect place to start. In this work Noel Kingsbury surveys some of the worlds leading garden designers for expert advice. Better yet you have the chance to view personal gardens of cutting edge designers such as Piet Oudolf, James Van Sweden, and Julie Mois Messervy. The photos in this coffee table format are stunning and the accompanying advice worth reading.