08 December 2010

My Top 5 Gardening Books

Genevieve is asking garden bloggers to list their top 5 gardening books -- just in time for winter book season!

Here is my list: 

The Explorer's Garden by Dan Hinkley
There are actually two of these -- one on perennials, one on shrubs and vines. Both are amazing, but I have a personal love for the first one, on perennials, because that was the book I stumbled upon as a beginning gardener who grew nothing but roses (for SOME insane reason) and that book opened up for me this whole other universe of growing, loving and collecting plants. To me, this book contains the magical essence of gardening as a passion, as a way of life. 

Gardening on Pavement, Tables, and Hard Surfaces by George Schenk
Okay. Just read that title. What? Gardening on tables? Hard surfaces? What does it mean? Don't get this book from the library, but buy your own copy, because it will blow your mind right out of your nose and all over the page, and librarians frown on this. Container gardening without the container. Floating table top gardens. Lawn you can roll up like a carpet. 

My Garden (Book) by Jamaica Kincaid
This book takes you right inside Jamaica Kincaid's mind while she gardens, and what you find there is a wild, exhilarating, poetic, funny, moving, swirl of images, stories, ideas, plants, and places. Which is a terrible description, but this book is indescribable. And wonderful.

A Pattern Language by Christopher Alexander, Sara Ishikawa, and Murray Silverstein
The subtitle to this book is "Towns Buildings Construction." So... why is it in my list of top gardening books? Because good design is good design, and these principles are universal. An example: I just flipped my copy open at random, and this is what I read: "Do not be tricked into believing that modern decor must be slick or psychedelic or 'natural' or 'modern art' or 'plants' or anything else that current taste-makers claim. It is most beautiful when it comes straight from your life -- the things you care for, the things that tell your story." There are over a thousand pages of truths like that. Go dig in. You'll garden -- and live -- differently for it.

Merry Hall by Beverly Nichols
I've reviewed this book before so I won't say too much, except: This is a must for any gardener. It captures so perfectly the JOY of gardening, the sheer bliss of this most wonderful of passions. 

So that's my list! What are you five favorites?


Unknown said...

A Pattern Language has made a huge impact on our modern life though most of us probably don't know it. The way this book teaches you to think has found it's way into so many other disciplines. Software design was transformed when programmers applied the principles in this book to software. Nowadays you can't get a job as a programmer without being familiar with "Design Patterns". It's neat to see that it has influenced garden design as well.

danger garden said...

I realize by admitting this I risk you thinking less of me but here goes...I have not read any of Dan Hinkley's books. Pathetic. I just added both of these to my library hold list. Thank you for the push.

Unknown said...

Loree, if you add Dan's books to your hold list then the library might force me to return the copies I've had checked out for about 6 months now.

Joseph said...

I had heard about how A Pattern Language influenced computer programming -- that was actually what got me interested in reading it. It is such a fascinating book -- everyone should read it, no matter their field!

Danger Garden,
Oh boy! You have such pleasures ahead of you!

Cyndy said...

I have and love one of those Hinkley books - didn't know there was another. The Nichols books are sweet and I love the reissues with all his quirky line drawings. Rick Darke is fab, also Ken Druse, but my favorite author is Allen Lacy, particularly his exchange of letters with Nancy Goodwin and The Garden in Autumn.

Genevieve said...

Joseph, I love your choices! I have read Jamaica Kincaid's non-gardening work but not this one. Thanks for the nudge. And I'm with Danger Garden - can't believe I haven't read any Hinkley yet... must get on that!