Thursday, December 24, 2020

Top 10 Garden Books of 2020

Here is a list of the best gardening books that came out in 2020 as reviewed in Washington Gardener Magazine. (These 10 selections are in no particular order.)

Buy a few of these for yourself and for the plant geeks, garden lovers, and horticultural nerds in your life! (Note that if you click on the links, it takes you to the book's Amazon page and we get a few pennies if you order it from there through our affiliate link.)

By Lisa Eldred Steinkopf

Our reviewer Lindsay Garbacik said, "I enjoyed reading this book, and as a beginner plant owner, felt comforted by Steinkopf’s humor and the ease with which she approaches plants. The book is full of colorful photos and is very organized. I would recommend this book to any houseplant lover, regardless of skill level or plant-owning experience"

By Ross Bayton

Our reviewer Jim Dronenburg said, "...each page in the listings has one or two botanical illustrations of item(s) on that page. Beautiful work, and all labeled. 
   In the back, as a start for those who have no Latin nor desire to learn it, is an index of common names of some plants and their Latin names. This is a trap. When you see the Latin name of your favorite plant and the listing explains what it means and why it is named the way it is, you will be amused… and before you know it, you will be hooked." 

By Sue Goetz

Our reviewer Beth Py-Lieberman wrote, "For kitchen gardens, you’ll pick up tips for choosing herbs for French, Italian, and Thai recipes, along with growing for herbal teas and beverages, rooting them at the beginning of the season, and drying them at the end. And the pictures—so pretty. 
   So nice to sit here by the fire this winter with this book and think about spring. Dear gardeners, go Goetz this book."

By Carol J. Michel

Our reviewer Taylor Calavetinos wrote, "After reading this book, I don’t think I’ll ever look at a garden the same way. I can now truly appreciate all of the creatures and critters that make gardens their home. After all, you’re never truly alone in your garden; there’s so much to discover about who’s living there."

By Alan Stein and Nancy Virts 

Our reviewer Lindsay Garbacik said, "While you shouldn’t necessarily buy a book based on appearances, this is certainly a book I would buy for its look. The large pages and oversized cover, along with the bright colors of the conservatories and plants, make this book so satisfying to look at and page through. 
   The book is very well organized and provides valuable, in-depth research into the history of these conservatories. This is the perfect gift for the architect, gardener, historian, or photographer in your life."

Our reviewer Nicole Noechel said, "Whether you’re an avid gardener, an expert on mindfulness, or a beginner in both areas, I recommend picking up a copy of RHS Gardening for Mindfulness to help get you thinking more calmly, especially during the stressful pandemic. The dazzling pictures of plants, animals, flowers, and gardeners throughout the book complete the guide, making it a great coffee table piece.' 

By Kim Eierman

Our reviewer Andrea Siegel said, "For a fairly slim volume, it is packed with an impressive amount of helpful information, and of course, lovely photos—though many readers would benefit from captions that named the flowers in photos of diverse plantings. This book has a very straightforward approach. Everything in here can be adapted to every climate and location, and there are growing suggestions for all.
   "As a whole, the book is valuable for the insights it gives gardeners at every level of skill and knowledge. It could serve as a textbook and guide for schools and community groups looking to create Pollinator Victory Gardens, pollinator paths, meadows, and opportunities for volunteers."

By Eva Monheim

Our reviewer Jim Dronenburg said, "The title of the book is misleading;  its content branches off in so many ways that it is hard to describe, but certainly 'shrubs and hedges' falls far short of what is covered here. Overall, the book is a well-written and glowingly illustrated manual of the care of woody plants. What applies to “shrubs” applies also to trees....This book is well worth buying. It is clear enough for beginners, and detailed enough for pros. "

9. Nature’s Best Hope: A New Approach to Conservation That Starts 
in Your Yard

By Douglas W. Tallamy

Our reviewer Kit Gage said, "I’ve been waiting for this book. Like many of you, I have read all of Tallamy’s other books and seen him speak a few times. I always came away wanting some more clarity on how to proceed, besides plant trees and plant natives. This book does it, with more detail, and yet, pretty straightforward recommendations"

10. You Bet Your Garden Guide to Growing Great Tomatoes,  Second Edition: 
How to Grow Great-Tasting Tomatoes in Any Backyard, Garden, or Container

By Mike McGrath

Our reviewer Andrea Siegel said, "The advice here is not novel, but it is coherently organized, all with McGrath’s trademark humor, lots of tomato photos, and line art that will make you smile...The book shows popular backyard tomatoes, their characteristics, and how they’re generally used...Plenty of McGrath’s tomato expertise is based on experience in addition to book knowledge....The information leads readers from selecting tomato varieties through all facets of growing—from germinating seeds and buying plants, to planting, feeding and staking/caging through dealing with pests and disease to harvesting and making sauce (recipe included)."


  1. Michael Heaney3:34 PM

    Some great choices, particularly the books by Doug Tallamy and Kim Eierman, which complement each other nicely. I found Kim's book to be invaluable in setting-up my own pollinator gardens. And I think she'd be an excellent guest for your podcast!

    1. Thanks, Michael! And great podcast guest selection - adding her to my 2021 list of potential GardenDC guests :-)

    2. Michael Heaney4:30 PM

      And I see that Kim is your guest for the latest (Feb 20) podcast. Nice!

  2. I enjoyed your post. There are some nice recommendations listed here. I am particularly drawn to The Conservatory and Gardening For Mindfulness, as I not only enjoy the beauty of botanical gardens, but also the history behind them.

    1. Thanks for stopping by and I hope you enjoy some nice reading that takes you to some beautiful botanical gardens this winter. :-)


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