Read Any Good Gardening Books Lately?

For our July 2012 Washington Gardener Magazine Reader Contest, we asked entrants to tell us:  
What is your favorite gardening book(s) and why

In all the submissions there was only ONE book that was mentioned by more than one entrant and that was The Well-Tended Perennial Garden by Tracy DiSabato-Aust. I concur that if you grow perennial flowers this book is a must-have in your home library.

Here were some of the entries with many more suggestions for summer reading and to add to your garden library:

Shirlie Pinkham of Gaithersburg, MD said her two favorite gardening books at the moment are:
1        ~ Native Plants of the Northeast: A Guide for Gardening & Conservation by Donald J. Leopold,  Timber Press, Portland, 2005.  For each plant, gives zones, soil, light, attributes (flowers, height, color change, etc.), propagation, natural range, and notes, with a picture.
~  Native Trees, Shrubs & Vines: A guide to using, growing, and propagating North American woody plants by William Cullina of the New England Wild Flower Society,  Houghton Mifflin Company, Boston, 2002.  For each plant gives zones, soil, native to, size, color, culture, uses, wildlife usefulness, propagation, and a nice narrative about the plant, plus a chapter on propagation methods, and lists of various plan

Dorothy Cichra of Silver Spring, MD's favorite gardening book is "Plant Propagation" from The American Horticultural Society. It has a good discussion of propagating techniques and also information on appropriate propagation techniques for a wide variety of plants. It is quite clear and thorough. As an avid gardener I enjoy propagating plants to give away and grow myself. It is quite useful."

Alan M. Cohen, President of  BioLogical Pest Management, Inc. in WDC said: "My favorite garden book is: The Garden Primer by Barbara Damrosch. Her book gives me answers when I want them, and inspiration when I need it. She does not talk down to you, but encourages you to try new things, and makes you feel good with personal anecdotes about her mistakes or failures, as well as her successes."

Lucy Goszkowski of Annapolis, MD said: "My current favorite gardening book is The Well-Tended Perennial Garden by Tracy Disabato-Aust.  It has more useful info per page than any other book."

Leah Cohen of Winchester, VA chose: Rodale's Ultimate Encyclopedia of Organic Gardening
"Because Rodale is the master of organic gardening, something I was raised with and continue to apply today."

Mavis Burdett of Silver Spring, MD wrote: "My new favorite gardening book is one that was reviewed by Washington Gardener Magazine --Container Gardening for All Seasons by Barbara Wise.  I've turned to container gardening up on our deck to keep my treasures away from the deer.  So far the deer have not learned to climb up on our deck."

Erica Smith of Germantown MD picked Heirloom Vegetable Gardening by William Woys Weaver.  It's a decent guide to selecting varieties of heirloom vegetables and growing them, but mostly I just love to dip in and read for the history, the personal observations, and the obsessive detail.  It's out of print (and quite expensive used) but available on a CD to read on the computer.

Madeline Caliendo of WDC said: "My favorite gardening book is The 20 Minute Gardener: The Garden of Your Dreams Without Giving Up Your Life, Your Job, or Your Sanity by Tom Christopher and Marty Asher. It is my favorite because it makes gardening accessible and fun."

Rose E. Apter of Alexandria, VA picked the New York/Mid-Atlantic Gardener's Book of Lists
by Bonnie Appleton and Lois Trigg Chaplin. "This is a handy reference work with loads of information about plants given in lists such as Native Trees.”
Joe Luebke of Hyattsville, MD said: "My favorite book is Crocketts Victory Garden by James Crockett.  This was the companion book to the original Victory Garden PBS show. As a boy in Indiana I would watch every Saturday and marvel at what they would grow. It helped nurture me to become a gardener. I still have my original copy from 1977 and it is absolutely relevant in today's world."

Dani Sandler of Washington, DC said: "I love Edible Landscaping by Rosalind Creasy. I never knew how beautiful edibles could look until I was given her book."

Lynn Title said: "It's a tossup:  my well-thumbed copy of Dirr's Handbook of Woody Plants and Henry Mitchell's Earthman books. Each in its own way provides a truly comprehensive listing of plants, with good stories and personal opinion thrown in. "

Kate Detweiler of Arlington, VA said: "I like You Grow Girl for it's focus on gardening in less than ideal conditions."
Jeavonna Chapman of  Baltimore, MD  picked The Fragrant Year by Leonie Bell Helen Van Pelt Wilson. "Really changed the way I garden. I don't grow many non-fragrant ornamentals any more. It also contained valuable lessons on extending bloom season by choosing different varieties of the same plant (daffodils and azaelas, for example). I learned that some plants in the same family may be fragrant and others not at all. I began using the bloom pattern and timing to identify plants, as well. It was a library book I started reading then had to seek out and purchase. It was out of print and difficult to find, but I got it. Still one of my all-time favorite books of any kind."

Tom Pluecker of Annapolis, MD said: "The best book I have in my library and the one I consult most is:  The ever-blooming flower garden: A blueprint for continuous color by Lee Schneller. It is not only the best planning book, but it really warns you about the size and nature of plants you may be considering. "

Caroline Phillips Rodin of Brooklyn, NY said: "My favorite gardening book is The Vegetable Gardener's Bible by Edward C Smith, because it covers everything you need to know and more, while still being accessible to gardeners of all levels."

Rachel Shaw of Rockville, MD had 3 favorites:
"The Well-Tended Perennial Garden by Tracy DiSabato-Aust. It is so helpful for what plants to deadhead, prune, etc. and when.
Great Garden Companions by Sally Jean Cunningham. This book talks about gardening organically by using companion plants to attract beneficial insects. It’s a nice, unpretentious book with a surprising amount of information on a variety of topics. 
Native Plants for Wildlife Habitat and Conservation Landscaping, Chesapeake Bay Watershed from the U.S. Fish & Wildlife Service. This book is so helpful when thinking about what other native plants might work in my yard."

Dorothy Wells of Kearneysville, WV said: "My favorite gardening book is Weedless Gardening by Lee Reich because it is direct to the point, easy to understand and most of all, his principals work. Lee Reich teaches how to put down newspaper and cover the newspaper with a layer of compost to block light from weed seeds in the soil. After applying the newspapers and compost, the only weeds that come up in the garden are those left by birds and they are easy to pull out of the friable compost. He also teaches how to irrigate without wasting water to evaporation and weeds by using a drip system that waters frequently throughout the day. The system only drops the water at the plants that need to be watered. He also teaches how important air pockets in the soil are and why gardeners should not walk in thier gardens. I buy this book in multiples to give as gifts to anyone who is interested in gardening."

Ellen McBarnette of WDC said: "Fave gardening book: Beatrix Potter's Peter Rabbit. Even though the gardener is the bad guy and it gives no instructions on how to grow anything, it was the first book to pique my interest in home grown veggies."

So what gardening books are among your favorites?

The winner of this month's Washington Gardener Magazine Reader Contest chosen at random from the submitted entries is Dorothy Cichra. Congratulations, Dorothy! She gets a copy of Homegrown Harvest (a $20 value).
   Homegrown Harvest: A Season-by-Season Guide to a Sustainable Kitchen Garden (Mitchell Beazley/Octopus Books USA; November 2010; Paperback May 2012; $19.99) is the perfect resource to help you do so. Compiled by noted gardening expert Rita Pelczar, with the assistance of the editorial staff at the American Horticultural Society, this book has something for everyone—whether your garden consists of hundreds of square feet, or simply a few containers on the patio.


MJ said…
I love all of William Cullina's books and refer to them all the time. These are some great suggestions, I will definitely check out some of the vegetable gardening books.
I will have to check out William Cullina, thank you for the suggestion MJ.

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