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Gift Guide 2016: Best Books on Gardens and the Outdoor Life


Gift Guide 2016: Best Books on Gardens and the Outdoor Life

December 7, 2016

Hibernation season officially got underway this week after I finished cutting back the roses, pruning the rosemary hedge, and spreading a 2-inch layer of compost on the garden beds.

Gardeners are ready to hole up in front of a fire with a cup of tea and a book. For the gardener on your holiday shopping list (or for yourself), here is our must-read list of garden, floral, and outdoor design books:


Above: Signed copies of two of our favorite floral arranging books—The Plant Recipe Book and The Flower Recipe Book—are available as a set for $49 at Food52.

“A feast of information and images, The Plant Recipe Book offers 100 of Baylor Chapman’s recipes for creating living arrangements at home,” writes Janet. “Each recipe contains a plant and material ingredient list and easy to follow step-by-step assembly instructions illustrated with stunning images.”

See our full review at Required Reading: The Plant Recipe Book.


Above: Buy In Bloom because Ngoc Minh Ngo is one of the best garden photographers at work these days. She is as hypnotized as anybody by the heartbreaking simplicity of a dogwood blossom as its petals unfurl. What sets her apart is her ability to convey with a camera how much that moment means to her. In Bloom is $45 from Barney’s.

See our full review at Required Reading: In Bloom.


Above: In The Oldest Living Things in the World, author Rachel Sussman communes with “continuously living organisms that are 2,000 years old and older.” It’s $45 from Best Made Co.


Above: With breathtaking photography, Seeing Seeds takes you to the heart of the matter in the garden; it is $29.95 from Terrain.


Above: At age 107, Ruth Bancroft of Walnut Creek, California “spends her days reading, listening to classical music and opera, and catching up on British dramas,” writes author Johanna Silver in The Bold Dry Garden. Among Mrs. Bancroft’s other lifelong hobbies: weeding, collecting seashells, and creating a spectacular garden on land purchased in the 1800s by her husband’s grandfather, historian Hubert Howe Bancroft. The story of The Bold Dry Garden is a heartwarming one, and Marion Brenner’s photos are magnificent; $15.37 from Amazon.

See our full review at Required Reading: Ruth Bancroft’s Bold Dry Garden.


Above:  “No matter your opinion on herbal medicine—I, for one, am an intrigued skeptic—it’s important to keep one thing in mind. Many drugs that are firmly in the domain of conventional medicine are made from plants and herbs, demonstrating flora’s potential to affect (and sometimes heal) the human body,” writes Meredith. In The Herbal Apothecary, author J.J. Pursell describes 100 plants and herbs with medicinal properties as well as the ways naturopaths use them, where to find them, or how to grow them at home; $17.72 from Amazon.

Read our full review in Required Reading: The Herbal Apothecary.


Above: “Even if there were a lot of Irish garden books about, and there aren’t, the reading of this one would be required,” writes Kendra of The Irish Garden. “The photographs are certainly a draw but it’s the voice of the author, Jane Powers (garden correspondent for the Sunday Times in Ireland), which is particularly engaging.” The Irish Garden is $40.80 at Amazon.

Read our full review in Required Reading: The Irish Garden.


Above: A complete 18-volume set of the National Audubon Society Field Guides includes such titles as Butterflies, Weather, Insects and Spiders, Eastern Wildflowers, Western Wildflowers, Eastern Trees, and Western Trees; $329 from Domestic Domestic.


Above: “New from German publisher Gestalten is Evergreen: Living with Plants, a verdant 256-page tome that ‘allows city dwellers to bring nature back into the everyday and quenches urban gardening desires.’ In addition to diagrams and tips (about which plants thrive in damp bathrooms, for example), the book features dozens of gardeners, florists, farmers, and designers as inspiration—starting with a bearded, suspender-clad man on the cover. Here’s a look at a few of our favorite projects,” writes Annie.

Read our full review in Required Reading: Evergreen, Living with Plants.

And don’t miss our own new book, described this week in The New York Times Book Review as “warm, approachable, lively — and chic.” See more:


Above: Photograph by Matthew Williams for Gardenista.

With chapters on planting palettes, drainage solutions, and outdoor showers, Gardenista: The Definitive Guide to Stylish Outdoor Spaces is full of inspiration and ideas we hope you’ll want to dog ear.

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€39.90 EUR from Gestalten

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