Some Gift Books for Gardeners

Some Gift Books for Gardeners
With the holiday season on the horizon, here are some garden gift books on various kinds of plants.

Though we may think of vegetables as annuals, some are in fact perennials. Chelsea Green has released an inspiring, helpful, color-illustrated book on the subject. “Perennial Vegetables” is by Eric Toensmeier, a leading expert on permaculture. Stressing organic and permaculture methods, this features over a hundred different kinds of both common and exotic vegetables, some of which aren’t hardy in temperate zones. These crops are produced by various kinds of plants—everything from trees and shrubs to cacti and bamboo. The author provides in-depth information on their cultural needs. There is a comprehensive chapter on garden techniques with illustrated, how-to instructions.

In the second part, the author gives a broad overview of each family with specific profiles for the recommended species. For each one, there is a color zone map, history, description, details on its cultural needs, propagation, related species, plant problems, tips on harvesting, storing, and using the vegetables, including recipes.

For experienced and novice gardeners, “A Handful of Herbs” by Barbara Segall et al from Ryland Peters and Small can’t be beat. Now available in paperback, this classic title features all the basics on growing and using herbs. This has an A to Z directory of the 75 most commonly grown species. For each, this directory gives the common and Latin name, hardiness zone, description, and details on how to grow and use it.

In addition, at the beginning of the book, there are expanded profiles of 20 species, which the authors call super herbs. This has details on specific varieties, a full color photo, and comprehensive information on its culture.

One chapter explains how to grow herbs, and the various functions they fill in the garden, including container gardens and indoor gardens.

Chapters are also devoted to cooking and decorating with herbs, complete with recipes and step-by-step directions.

“Grasses and Bamboos” by Noel Kingsbury was also released by Ryland Peters and Small.

Kingsbury gives particular attention to the design qualities of the plants, such as texture, and form.

In the introduction, the author devotes a section to each of these qualities, explaining how the plants can fulfill various roles in the garden, such as ones for ground covers and shady spots. He even shows how to use them as container plants and how to incorporate them into various kinds of garden styles.

There is an A to Z plant directory with profiles of individual species and cultivars. Each of the entries gives the Latin and common name, a description, details on the plant’s cultural needs, its suggested garden use, mature size, and hardiness zone.

It is no coincidence that rhododendrons have remained one of the most popular garden plants for several centuries. The story of these alluring flowers is beautifully told by Jane Brown in “Tales of the Rose Tree.” This was published by David R. Godine. This is garden history at its best-compelling and captivating.

Though this may not have been apparent before, the story of these plants is just as exciting as the much told-tale of Tulipmania that overtook Holland. The author traces the history of the plants back to their pre-historic times millions of years ago down to the recent years. She explains the role that intrepid plant collectors played in this drama, and reveals how the plants took the English gardening public by storm before they were widely cultivated in America.

The author reveals there are over a thousand species. Here you’ll find the individual history of the renowned Exbury, vireyas, and many others. There are even full color photos of art in which rhodies are a featured subject, such as a still life showing an azalea in a pot. There are personal stories of specific historical varieties with details on the personalities and nurseries involved.

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