My favourite garden books
These days google search has taken the place of gardening books and one can find details of a plant or solve a gardening problem at the touch of a button but there are writers and gardening books that the internet can never replace .
This is a list of books written by gardeners that I was both influenced and inspired by to become a better gardener . These are books that I reread on a regular basis and am constantly learning from as the writers are inspirational gardeners who are in turn outspoken and not afraid to go against the trend and another word to describe them might be mavericks !
- The Well Tempered Garden – Christopher Llyod This was the book published in 1976 just when I got my first garden which opened my eyes to gardening and showed me that gardening was a passion and one that could not be part time . Llyod took me away from pretty pretty style gardening of regimentalised summer flowers of blue lobelia alternated with white allysum and the odd rose to give height and where gardening began on May 1st and ended in October ! Christopher Llyod was cantankerous and at first did not fit into the established Royal Horticultural Society way of thinking but pursued his own vision of what HE wanted from his garden and I have every book he wrote , The Foliage Garden, The Adventurous Gardener , Succession planting for adventurous gardeners, Exotic plants for adventurous gardeners, Colour for adventurous gardeners . Llyod also loved what he called gardening thugs , plants that self seed prolifically like alchemis mollis which for a lot of gardeners are a pest but Llyod loved the fact that nature should be encouraged not managed or curtailed in his garden at Great Dixter in East Sussex and I have followed his philosophy for the past almost 40 years .
- Better Gardening – Robin Lane Fox A slim book published in 1986 with each chapter devoted to a series of plants and trees and I have used it ever since to check plants and plan purchases . I like a writer to be definite about his / her plant preferences and also their dislikes and Lane Fox nails his colours to the mast each time and takes no hostages where popular garden tastes are concerned . An interesting man , Lane Fox is an Oxford University Classics Professor who is the leading world expert on Alexander the Great , writes a weekly gardening column in the Observer but who regards his real love as his appointment as the Head Gardener in charge of the college gardens .
- The Damp Garden , The Dry Garden , The Gravel Garden – Beth Chatto The plants person’s gardener whose books are like the bible for any gardener be they beginner or otherwise and who comes across as a lovely understated person without any axe to grind unlike Llyod who tended to take on the world . Essential to anyone’s collection of gardening books and I refer to her books on a regular basis .
- Real Gardening – Stephen Lacey This book by a Daily Telegraph Gardening writer has no special theme but his absolute love of gardening comes through on every page and after every reading his enthusiasm makes you want to rush out and start digging ! A pure joy to read .
- The Complete Book of Gardening – Dan Pearson This book is co – authored by Terence Conran the designer but his name is on the cover mainly because he commissioned and paid for the book . Dan Pearson is probably the best garden writer of today and there is an elegance about his writing but above all his sheer love of gardening comes through . Again he is a writer of definite tastes and not at all structured about his planting schemes always following a naturalistic theme . Other books of his worth having are Home Front in the Garden about his own garden and its development , Spirit … which is a bit airy fairy but worth reading just to see where an obsession with plants takes you but no matter how airy fairy Pearson’s passion for gardening comes through .Dan Pearson also writes a weekly gardening column for the Daily Telegraph and over time I will list a few of the more interesting .
- Helen Dillon- Gardening Book … divided into chapters covering all aspects of gardening . What makes this book different from many others offering similar advice is Dillon’s down to earth no nonsense advice . There is also another book of her collected articles she wrote for the Sunday Tribune which I use constantly .
- The RHS Gardening Encyclopaedia …. Indispensable for every gardener’s book shelf and here you can look up every plant , tree or shrub . A huge book but definitely one to have … I inherited mine from the late Betty Walsh , a great gardener and friend .
- Monty Don – the Complete Garden Book …. If you go for just one book to cover all aspects of gardening from organic vegetable growing to flowers and shrubs then this book is probably the best . Don is a complex individual and a brilliant TV presenter who manages to convey his total enthusiasm for gardening in a believable way .
- John Brookes –The Small Garden was published in the 6o’s and still in print today , a testimony to the generation of gardeners who came to rely on his design ideas which are laid out in easy to understand text accompanied by marvelous photos . John Brookes is the gardeners garden designer and was the designer to coin the phrase a room outside when describing the garden . His book Garden Masterclass was given to me by my son , Kevin, in 2004 and is the source I return to on a regular basis for ideas . If it is to check on the height of stone walls, type of path surfaces , garden containers and furnitue this is the book for you and the photographs are sumptous .