Books for Gardeners

Linda Moran
Frederick County Master Gardener

For your gardening friends or for yourself, consider choosing gardening books from the vast array available as Christmas gifts. Area bookstores, art museums, and gift shops all feature a wide selection of the more usual and recently published books.  Many of their used copies are in excellent condition. Best of all, when time permits, is to browse in the gardening section of a used bookstore. Wonder Book is a good local source and most towns have at least one. I recently found Gertrude Jekyll's Wood and Garden and The Once and Future Gardener, Garden Writing from the Golden Age of Magazines, 1900-1910. Both were in excellent condition and inexpensive with surprisingly up to date gardening information. Color plates of the magazine covers were creative and bright.

Some of my favorites that I return to often for advice or for just pure pleasure are listed in categories and represent a very minimal sampling of the vast library of books related to gardening. Books related to more specific subjects such as native plants, peonies, hellebores, etc. may be a subject for a future column.


  • The New Traditional Garden, A Practical guide to Creating and Restoring American Gardens for Homes of All Ages by Michael Weishan. Includes great illustrations.
  • Treasury of Garden Writing selected by Charles Elliott. Selections from15th - 20th century writers with beautiful botanicals.
  • Men and Gardens by Nan Fainbrother. A delightful tour through old gardens.
  • Jefferson's Gardens by Peter Loewer.
  • The American Gardener, A Sample edited by Allen Lacy.

Garden Design

  • Frederick Law Olmstead by Charles E. Beveridge and Paul Rocheleau. Central Park, Prospect Park in Brooklyn and The U. S. Capitol grounds were among his greatest urban projects while The Biltmore Estate represents an example of his large scale work for a private owner. It is open to the public and well worth a visit.
  • Timeless Landscape Design by Mary and Hugh Dargan.
  • On Garden Style by Bunny Williams. She uses her garden as a classroom.
  • The Well Tempered Garden by Christopher Lloyd. Advice and wisdom from the garden sage.


  • Onward and Upward In the Garden. Katherine S. White's articles published in The New Yorker from 1958-1970. Critiquing gardening catalogues became her passion. Beautifully written with an introduction by E.B. White.
  • Emily Dickinson's Gardens by Marta McDowell. Photographs, illustrations, plant lists and poetry. Emily's gardening style and her respect for the natural world only add to her already considerable reputation.
  • The Wild Braid by Stanley Kunitz with Genine Lentine. A Poet reflects on a century in the garden. Lovely Photographs.
  • One Man's Garden, The Essential Earthman and Any Day, all by Henry Mitchell. Charmingly written and broad in their scope, his essays include most of the gardening advice you will ever need.

Coffee Table Size

  • Making of a Garden by Rosemary Verey. Her outstanding garden is now in private hands and open to the public infrequently. If you missed it, this beautiful edition is a worthwhile substitute
  • The Garden at Hidcote by Fred Witsey. Designed by an American, Hidcote has been very influential in 20th ci garden design, especially so for its concept of garden rooms.
  • Gardening at Sissinghurst. Tony Lord offers beautiful photographs and detailed designs for replicating Vita Sackville-West's lush borders.
  • Monet's Garden, Through the Seasons at Giverny by Vivian Russell. Exuberant and beautifully designed, this splendid garden became the inspiration for over 500 of his paintings. Monet was an inspired gardener and this book begins with his conception of Giverny and follows it through the four seasons. The photographs are lush and the text informative.
  • Dumbarton Oaks, Garden Into Art by Jane Brown. Beatrix Farrand, one of America's greatest landscape gardeners designed this close by gem in Georgetown. Plates of her watercolor designs are especially beautiful. History, planting plans, plant lists and great photographs, some in black and white, are included.
  • The Elements of Organic Gardening by HRH, The Prince of Wales with Stephanie Donaldson. Filled with practical advice and a 'How To Begin' chapter, this very interesting, beautiful and informative book includes both informal and formal gardening styles and techniques.
  • Earth On Her Hands, The American Woman in Her Garden , by Stann Rockenga. This book features eighteen gardens created and cared for by women some for five decades.

Happy Reading!

Read other suggest Christmas gifts for gardeners

Read other article by Linda Moran