Staff Picks: A Summer Reading List for the Gardener

With Pinterest boards, Google search, and the rest of the Internet world, finding new ideas and discovering cool plants is usually one click away. And for those of you who still like to kick back with a book and iced lemonade in the garden hammock, here’s a short summer reading list the staff would like to share with you!

My Garden (Book): by Jamaica Kincaid


“It’s an adventure beyond what she was doing and I walked along with [Kincaid]. She has met amazing horticulturalists,” Marcy says.

This books allows readers into the world of Kincaid’s gardening passions and displeasures through flowering description and insightful opinion!

Carol recommends more than just books with a list of her favorite gardening British authors such as Rosemary Verey, Vita Sackville-West, Christopher Lloyd (not to be confused with the actor of the same name), and Beth Chatto.

Sunset Western Garden Book edited by Kathleen Norris Brenzel


This is the most popular pick that all staff can agree on! Now on its 8th edition, it includes 500 new plant listings to the 8,000 listed as well as a photographic tour of the ‘Best of the West’ garden homes in Brenzel’s introduction.

“It’s a great starting book…[for] 101 gardening!” Ginger says.

Manual of Woody Landscape Plants: Their Identification, Ornamental Characteristics, Culture, Propagation and Uses by Michael A. Dirr


“It’s written for horticulturalists and has all the proper information we require,” Antoni says.

And indeed it does with the vast expanse of references Dirr connects through identification and characteristics within each plant entry. This book even goes so far as to depict an illustration of leaves and branches to accompany each in depth entry!

Deb is also a fan of Dirr, as she favors another one of his books:

Dirr’s Hardy Trees and Shrubs: An Illustrated Encyclopedia


“It [has] great photos of plants in natural habitats and shows you how they wind up!” she says.

In the back of this book, there’s a list of plant suggestions for different situations in the garden as well. A must-read for the hardy gardener!

Sam enjoys many reference books for his gardening inspirations. Here’s his pick for the summer:

The Explorer’s Garden: Rare and Unusual Perennials by Dan Hinkley


“[It] highlights really cool things that broadens your horizons on what you can grow here,” Sam says.

Hinkley has traveled through Chile, China, Nepal, Korea, and secluded parts of North
America to share his “rare and unusual perennials” with amazing photographs and commentary!

Paige has many garden books to suggest, and this is her current favorite:

The Secret Life of Trees: How They Live and Why They Matter by Colin Tudge


“Not only does it talk about pretty much every tree and how it’s unique, but it also talks about how they survive. [Tudge] gives a new perspective on the sometimes seemingly inanimate trees,” Paige says.

She says it all.

Enjoy your summer everyone! May you find these books interesting and relaxing!


Photo credits to for their awesome selection of book cover photos.


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