Thursday, December 30, 2021

Top Garden Books of 2021

Here is a list of the best gardening books that were reviewed in 2021 in the 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.)

1. The Vegetable Garden Pest Handbook: Identify and Solve Common Pest Problems on Edible Plants—All Natural Solutions!

Author: Susan Mulvihill

Publisher: Cool Springs Press

List Price: $27.99

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Reviewer Erica H. Smith wrote, "Sometimes, a reviewer just has to take a deep breath, stare longingly into a book’s front cover, let out a heartfelt, “WHERE HAVE YOU BEEN ALL MY LIFE?,” and then get on with the review. This book may not be the ideal dream reference guide to insect pests I’ve always wanted, but it is darn close... That said, this book is close to perfect and definitely one to recommend to vegetable gardeners at all levels of experience, especially beginners. Encountering pests when you don’t expect them can be so disheartening; here’s a resource that will encourage, educate, and help."

2. Soil Science for Gardeners: Working with Nature to Build Soil Health

Author: Robert Pavlis

Publisher: New Society Publishers

List Price: $18.99

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Reviewer Stacey Evers wrote, "After reading it, I thought about soil and what’s happening in soil in a different, more scientific way. The book also gave me a different way to think about gardening, especially related to watering and disease. I also loved the myth busting."

3. Plant Partners: Science-Based Companion Planting Strategies for the Vegetable Garden

Author: Jessica Walliser

Publisher: Storey Publishing

List price: $24.95

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Reviewer Andrea F. Siegel said, "This book is great because it encourages gardeners to accomplish several things at once by companion planting, from reducing pests to creating compost. And the companion planting isn't folktales, this explains the science. Often the companions are both edibles.."

4. The Ecological Gardener: How to Create Beauty and Biodiversity from the Soil Up

Author: Matt Rees-Warren

Publisher: Chelsea Green Publishing

List Price: $24.95

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Reviewer Andrea F. Siegel said, "This books teaches gardener, including beginners, how & what to plant to help wildlife (which can help you with garden pests too) and use it to improve your soil. Also, a one-stop shopping type of book... You want your garden to be pretty and thriving, and you can do that in a way that contributes ecologically and is a haven for wildlife. Rees-Warren reminds us that we garden for our privacy, too. We are not looking to block an invasion; rather, we are seeking a haven for ourselves, too."

5.  The Comic Book Guide to Growing Food: Step-by-Step Vegetable Gardening for Everyone 

Author: Joseph Tychonievich 

Illustrator: Liz Anna Kozik

Publisher: Ten Speed Press

List price: $19.99

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Reviewer Khloe Quill said, " I think this might be the best beginner’s guide to gardening I’ve ever read and it’s because of the illustrations. There’s something so inviting about learning new information through a story and for visual learners like myself, it’s easy to conceptualize the process when the authors literally draw it out for you."

6. Unearthing The Secret Garden:  The Plants and Places That Inspired Frances Hodgson Burnett

Author: Marta McDowell

Publisher: Timber Press

List Price: $25.95

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Reviewer Beth Py-Lieberman said, "Maytham would be just the beginning of Burnett’s spectacular gardening rehabs. McDowell’s tireless researches and delightful prose recount anecdotes and details of Burnett’s efforts to make a life for flowers at her subsequent homes in Long Island and Bermuda, where she spent her winters. Rich in details, lavish with illustrations, including many from the story’s various print versions, this book is a must-have for anyone whose first horticulture passions were triggered by that gateway drug to gardening, otherwise known as The Secret Garden."

7. Digging and Delighted: Live Your Best Gardening Life

Author: Carol J. Michel

Publisher: Gardenangelist Books

List Price: $14.99

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Our reviewer Charlotte Crook wrote, "Carol J. Michel’s book of essays, Digging and Delighted is an easy, yet engaging read, with a conversational blend of warm humor and encouragement for gardeners of all skill levels."

8. Winterland: Create a Beautiful Garden for Every Season

Author: Cathy Rees

Publisher: Princeton Architectural Press

List Price: $30.00

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Our reviewer Jim Dronenburg said, "The text is admirably organized and plain-speaking, and the points Rees makes are easy to follow, and seem reasonably uncomplicated to put into practice... In short, if you have any garden at all, you will want to get this book. And if you have a view of a neighbor’s garden, you need to give them this book. (After you read it first.)"

9. Women and Gardens: Obstacles and Opportunities for Women Gardeners Throughout History

Authors: Judith Mundlak Taylor, MD and  Susan Groag Bell

Publisher: Taylorhort Press

List Price: $19.99

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Our reviewer Charlotte Benedetto wrote, "This book is full of the tales and personalities that make history make sense. It tells the stories of these women who haunt our libraries, plant names, and seed catalogs. Compelling and relevant stories are found in this work—stories that demand to be known. Educators and readers should invest in Women and Gardens to engage with and harness the power of these empowering, previously untold legends."

10. Gardening by Month: A Monthly Guide to Planning the Northeastern & Mid-Atlantic Garden

Author: Lee Miller


List Price: $29.96

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Reviewer Charlotte Benedetto wrote, " Accompanied by fantastic, copious, and generous full-color photographs (on every page!), this book creates an engaging, personable conversation with the reader. We find ourselves scooting forward and backward in time as planning takes over. Any Mid-Atlantic gardener would be captivated and find useful information in this glossy, perfectly formed little volume. Concise, but substantial, Gardening By Month is full of useful facts from a master of the domesticated wild. It is both practical in text and gem-like in presentation, and I think it has a place on the shelf of any local gardener."


Beautiful Flowers: A Guide and Workbook for Growing, Using, and Enjoying Gorgeous Garden Blooms

Author: Janice Cox

Publisher: Ogden Publications

List Price: $17.99

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Our reviewer Melinda Thompson said, "This guide is beginner-friendly, explaining all the important things that new flower-growers need to know.  I highly recommend this book for the flower-lover in your life."


  1. Thank you, Kathy! I am honored to have my book included. Happy New Year!


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