Sunday, January 07, 2024

Top Garden Books of 2023

Here is a list of the best gardening books that were reviewed in 2023 in the Washington Gardener Magazine. These 10 selections are listed below 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. We have also included the link from our account for those who do not use Amazon.)

1. Gardening Can Be Murder: How Poisonous Poppies, Sinister Shovels, and Grim Gardens Have Inspired Mystery Writers

Author: Marta McDowell

Publisher: Timber Press

List Price: $29.00

Order Links: and

Reviewer Beth Py-Lieberman wrote, "With murderous precision and the exhaustive art of a detective’s pursuit, McDowell is on the trail in her new book, Gardening Can Be Murder. But don’t mistake this tiny tome with its sinister black cover—the backdrop for a gorgeous rendering of deadly nightshade—as a playful light read. McDowell’s packed pages are a spell-binding timeline detailing how the garden provides key clues across a landscape of classic to contemporary mystery novels."

2. The Ecological Farm: A Minimalist No-Till, No-Spray, Selective-Weeding, Grow-Your-Own-Fertilizer System for Organic Agriculture

Author: Helen Atthowe 

Publisher: Chelsea Green Publishing

List Price: $44.95

Order Links: and

Reviewer Marsha Douma wrote, "The Ecological Farm builds on the ideas that came before it. How fortunate we are to have so many good books to choose from in advocating organic, sustainable growing practices. Who will find this particular book valuable? Any gardener. Even for the reader who is familiar with organic gardening practices, the extensive second part of the book, about how to organically grow and trouble-shoot a wide selection of crops, is a valuable, carefully researched reference to have on hand."

3. How to Forage for Wild Foods Without Dying: An Absolute Beginner’s Guide to Identifying 40 Edible Wild Plants

Author: Ellen Zachos

Publisher: Storey Publishing, LLC

List Price: $16.99

Order Links: and

Reviewer Christine Folivi wrote, "Throughout the book, there are beautiful photographs of each plant, but what I personally liked the most and thought was most useful was the author showing us the “dangerous look-likes” for many edible plants. This handy book helps people avoid these doppelgangers when they are foraging, which will save you from deadly results."

4. The Climate Change Garden: Down to Earth Advice for Growing a Resilient Garden

Authors: Sally Morgan and Kim Stoddart   

Publisher: Cool Springs Press/Quarto

List Price: $26.99

Order Links: and

Reviewer Andrea F. Siegel wrote, "The authors call for this: Besides changing gardening practices on the outside, gardeners should reconsider their mindset. The individual gardener’s personal resourcefulness and a recognition that gardening has to change from the practices on European estates centuries ago will help them deal with new challenges.."

5. The Vegetable Garden Problem Solver Handbook: Identify and Manage Diseases and Other Common Problems on Edible Plants

Author: Susan Mulvihill 

Publisher: Cool Springs Press/Quarto

List Price: $28.99

Order Link: and

Reviewer Erica H. Smith wrote, "...let me assure you that this book will not, well, lead you down the garden path to unverified, nonscientific solutions. Mulvihill knows her stuff, and she knows how to present it. This is a well-written, encouraging guide to making your garden the best it can be."

6. Shade Gardening for the Northeast and Mid-Atlantic: A Guide to Planning the Ultimate Shade Garden

Author: Lee Miller

Publisher: Independently published

Order link:

Cost: $31.91

Reviewer Marsha Douma wrote, "The combination of a picture on just about every page with relevant and clear symbols makes this a useful and attractive book. It would be a good companion to take along to the local nursery because it quickly and easily provides the information gardeners need before buying a plant. It is also a useful general reference providing essential information about plants you might already have in your garden"

7. The Color of Roses: A Curated Spectrum of 300 Blooms

Author: Danielle Dall’armi Hahn 

Photographer: Victoria Pearson

Publisher: Ten Speed Press

List Price: $35.00

Order Links: and

Reviewer Teri Speight wrote, "This carefully curated book about roses is written as a guide for learning what roses to choose from when looking for specific characteristics. It would also be quite useful as a non-intimidating resource for the care and use of one of the world’s most-loved flowers."

8. Field Guide to Outside Style: Design & Plant Your Perfect Outdoor Space

Author: Ryan McEnaney 

Publisher: Cool Springs Press

List Price: $30.00

Order Link: and

Reviewer: Taylor Edwards wrote, "The Field Guide to Outside Style is an easygoing guide to decorating any outdoor space. The author invites readers to think about what the ideal garden looks like to them by exploring personal choice and style. This book has a good balance of instructions and pictures throughout to provide some inspiration. Take your time reading through it, because it has a lot of information to digest.."

9. The First-Time Gardener: Container Food Gardening

Author: Pam Farley

Publisher: Cool Springs Press

List Price: $26.99

Order Links: and

Reviewer Marissa Yelenik wrote, "The First-Time Gardener: Container Food Gardening is a great resource for its intended audience of beginner gardeners. With charts to hammer down exactly the ideal conditions for each edible plant and photo resources to explain how to go about certain tasks, the book works to truly simplify edible container gardening for those who have never touched a plant before."

10. A Gardener’s Guide to Botany: The Biology Behind the Plants You Love, How They Grow, and What They Need
Author: Scott Zona
Publisher: Cool Springs Press/Quarto
List Price: $32.00
Order Links: and

Reviewer Marsha Douma wrote, "It has been many years since I read a biology book cover to cover, but Scott Zona’s clearly and expertly written, as well as beautifully arranged book was worth the effort. It is filled with fascinating photographs of plants from around the world to illustrate his points. Truly, every page is worthwhile, which is a claim not easy to make for a textbook. Even a cursory reading of the book will leave the reader in awe of how exquisitely plants have evolved to adapt and thrive no matter what environment they inhabit."


We had to include our own book here, which we are extremely proud of and hope you will consider purchasing. GROUNDCOVER REVOLUTION is by Kathy Jentz (Publisher: Cool Springs Press, List Price: $26.99, Order Links: or Garden writer C.L. Fornari of said, “Groundcover Revolution is the must-have book for anyone who is interested in having less lawn, fewer weeds, and reduced mulching. The properties charts will save the reader time and money, the pictures provide inspiration, while the detailed plant portraits give the focused information needed for creating beautiful, functional landscapes.”

Here are our past year's listings of our Top Garden Books:

- The Top 10 Garden Books of 2020 are here
- The Top 10 Garden Books of 2019 are here
- The Top 10 Garden Books of 2018 are here
- The Top 10 Garden Books of 2017 are here
- The Top 10 Garden Books of 2016 are posted here

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