Nothing gives a gardener more pleasure than getting a garden book as a gift. Not an easy task since most gardeners will indulge themselves and not wait for the right occasion. Never fear. There are enough interesting new books to catch your attention and give a huge amount of pleasure.
Every year there’s one book that stands out as the superspecial gift and this year it’s Anna Pavord’s book The Tulip. It’s amazing that anything this heavy makes great bedtime reading but I’m ploughing my way through every word. It’s gorgeous and no one could afford to buy this for themselves. But at $60 it’s a bargain. Tulips made and broke people in the 17th century during Tulipomania; when a single bulbs could cost thousands of today’s dollars. It’s really an exciting story. The illustrations are fabulous.
The Tulip by Anna Pavord, distributed by Raincoast Books, $60
In the absolutely gorgeous category there’s Ethne Clarke’s book Autumn Gardens. I loved the information in this book because Autumn is my favourite season At $54 it’s seems expensive but it’s the holiday season and price is no object here. The photography is articulate, the writing beguiling. I really like this book. It’s been re-edited with the North American market in mind, but do don’t get carried away the photographs are English.
Autumn Gardens by Ethne Clarke, photographs by Jonathan Buckley, Soma Books, $54
If you are going to spend that kind of money, and want something closer to home look at Tom Hobbs book Shocking Beauty. This is real Tom Talk and if you look in the current issue of Gardening Life you’ll see his work. This book is a culmination of years of gardening and looking and is filled with wonderful ideas that will change the way you look at how you combine plants.
Shocking Beauty by Thomas Hobbs, Raincoast, $50
Now we get into the important books: This category is the books that are really useful.
Bioplanning A North Temperate Garden by Diana Beresford-Kroeger is one of those books. I’d been waiting for it for years and was thrilled to see it come out this fall. It is based on the scientific principles that should be guiding our gardening. It’s written with wit and an enormous background in science. A bioplan is a blueprint, she says, for all connectivity of life in nature. She lists the plants we should be using and what their function is. Lots of good design ideas and just plain good sense here. Bioplanning A North Temperate Garden, by Diana Beresford-Kroeger, Quarry Press, $40
We all think we have too much shade, we who live in the city so Woodland Garden might be a welcome addition. It’s by Roy Forster and Alex Downie – Planting in Harmony with Nature. Don’t give it to anyone who has trouble with reading very small type. Sophisticated information even for the person with lots of experience.
Woodland Garden by Roy Forster and Alex Downier, Raincoast, $30
Lorraine Johnson is a favourite Canadian garden writer of mine and her new book 100 Easy-to-Grow Native Plants is a welcome addition to the shelf devoted to our native plants. There are short verbal snap-shots of plants and she casts her net widely to cover prairie, northwest and northeastern natives. A good book for someone who has just gotten interested in native plants. 100 Easy to Grow Native Plants, Random House, $27
Jo Ann Gardner’s book Herbs in Bloom was published in 98 but it’s so good I have to mention it here. Anyone who loves herbs is going to find this a really wonderful book. It tells you about the plant, it gives background and how to put it together with other plants.
Herbs in Bloom, by Jo Ann Gardner, Timber Press, $50
Now for real nuts and bolts books:
There’s a whole genre of garden writing that is personal and charming and, often, full of wisdom and insight: I’d put The Rusty Rake Gardener by David and Cathy Cummins right at the top of the list. They make you feel that gardening is fun just by the sheer exuberance of their own gardening habits. And they are organic.
The Rusty Rake Gardener by David and Cathy Cummins, with John Lawrence Reynolds, Macmillan Canada, $25.
For children I have a couple, one of which was test driven by my own grandchildren.
The Pumpkin Circle stopped them jumping all over my bed for a good 20 minutes. It’s narrated by Danny Glover and I think is a really good little slice of gardening life. For ages almost 4 and up. There is also a book available. But you can order the video on a 1-800 number.
The Pumpkin Circle by George Levenson narrated by Danny Glover can be ordered from this number: 1-800-827-0949
Tundra Books always has great kids books. And The Man Who Made Parks is up to their high standards. It’s by Frieda Wishinsky and is about Frederick Law Olmstead the man who, most famously, designed Central Park in New York City. There are lovely watercolour illustrations by Song Nan Zhang that kids 6 and over will love to pore over.
The Man Who Made Parks: The Story of Parkbuilder Frederick Law Olmsted by Frieda Wishinky, illustrated by Song Nan Zhang, Tundra $18
For the garden maven who loves just to read and read about gardening. Early Canadian Gardening: An 1827 Nursery Catalogue by Eileen Woodhead . It has a plethora of historical information.
Early Canadian Gardening: An 1827 Nursery Catalogue by Eileen Woodhead , $45.