Gardening books are among the most useful gifts you can give to those gardeners on your holiday shopping list.
For anyone moving to Florida, “Florida Gardening-The Newcomer’s Survival Manual” by Monica Moran Brandies is essential. From B.B. Mackey Books, this second and expanded edition contains nearly twice as many pages. It is beautifully illustrated with drawings and photos. This commonsense gardening guide is written in an engaging style. The author shares her personal experiences, explains how she planned her move and how Florida gardening differs. This title can help newcomers avoid mistakes. A chapter is devoted to each type of plant, including houseplants and lawns. The author covers all of the basic gardening techniques. There are handy charts and tables along with scrumptious recipes. The appendix has helpful lists of resources and information.
Though the plant recommendations are intended for Florida, much of this information applies to the entire Sunbelt.
Every gardener needs a good book on insects. From St. Lynn’s Press comes “Good Bug-Bad Bug-Who’s Who, What They Do, and How to Manage Them Organically.” By Jessica Walliser, this is sure to become a classic. It belongs in every gardener’s library. This is flexbound with a hidden wire-o binding so the pages open flat. This profiles 24 pests, including slugs and snails, as well as 14 beneficials.
The pests are listed alphabetically. Two pages are dedicated to each one. There are full color photos of the culprits and their symptoms/damage. This gives a simple and easy to follow description of the bug, the symptoms, and a list of the plants it attacks. Particular attention is devoted to prevention through proper cultural practices. This also explains what beneficial or organic controls can be used for each pest.
This takes the mystery out of beneficals by explaining their role in destroying garden pests. It also tells how to introduce beneficials into the garden. For each beneficial, this has a full description, account of its life cycle, the pests they control, how to attract, and use them.
This also has a garden glossary and helpful appendix with information on organic products and sources.
When it comes to garden journals, “A Gardener’s Journal-Life With My Garden” by Doug Oster and Jessica Walliser from St. Lynn’s Press is by far the best around. The authors also wrote “Grow Organic.” This hardcover has a hidden wire-o binding. It has 160 blank, lined pages for recording one’s gardening thoughts, observations, and ideas. There’s space at the top of each page for recording the date. This has a ribbon bookmark along with handy packets on the inside covers for storing clippings and notes.
Throughout the journal are sidebars with handy gardening tips (over 70 in all) on a range of topics. In addition, this has 12 gardening essays on various topics, such as composting. The emphasis is on organic gardening. This also has several sheets of graph paper for sketching your garden designs. In the appendix is a very helpful vegetable planting table giving the planting dates for various areas of the country, days to maturity, etc.
“Who Does Your Garden Grow?” by Alex Pankhurst from B.B. Mackey is one of a kind. This presents the biographies of the folks behind those plant names. Readers can learn about these vivid personalities and the rich histories of a hundred or so beloved plant varieties. For those with an interest in garden history, this is a must-have.
There are many familiar plants here, such as Luther Burbank’s Shasta daisy, and the Russell lupins of George Russell. The author explains how each plant was either bred or discovered. Though some of the plant names may be familiar to gardeners, the people for whom they’re named aren’t always so well known. This features plant drawings as well as photos of the plants and the folks for whom they’re named.