Great Books to Prepare Yourself for Next Year’s Garden

By Vicki Spencer, Master Gardener

As daylight hours become noticeably shorter in November, it’s a good time to catch up on reading. Sometimes the sheer abundance of gardening books makes it difficult to know where to begin. Perhaps you will like some of the suggestions below.

Since going on a French garden tour this past spring, I became more interested in the history of gardening. Naively, I was surprised to see centuries old French gardens were filled with the same flowers I’ve always included in my yard. After getting home, I turned to the Denver Public Library for insight on how flowers, such as hydrangeas, lilies, tulips, irises and roses, made it to the New World.

The History of Gardens
By Christopher Thacker
This well-researched academic publication is not a casual read. Its extensive history of English gardens might appeal to readers planning to visit England, but if history is not your thing, other books I read might be more enjoyable and they are full of ideas for making your garden even better next year.

The Starter Garden Handbook
By Alice Mary Alvrez
This handbook covers all the basics, from deciding what kind of garden to grow to soil preparation, understanding the relationship between climate and your garden, getting started with herbs and harvesting your produce. It includes useful information for beginners and more experienced gardeners.

The Vegetable Gardener’s Bible (2nd Edition)
By Edward C. Smith
If your harvest was disappointing this year, you might find this book beneficial. Smith explains how raised beds can help you reap more from your garden by reducing the space taken up by walking paths, by positioning the beds to take full advantage of the sun and by incorporating organic techniques.

Floret Farm’s Cut Flower Garden: Grow, Harvest & Arrange Stunning Seasonal Blooms
By Erin Benzakein and Michele M. Waite
What I love about this book is that it’s not just a handbook for planting your flower garden. The beautiful photos are inspirational, especially if you have any doubts about starting your first flower bed. Follow the book’s season-by-season planting guide and you will always have cuttings for indoor bouquets.

The Well-Tended Perennial Garden: The Essential Guide to Planting and Pruning Techniques (3rd Edition)
By Tracy DiSabato-Aust
The “Encyclopedia of Perennials” chapter, with a section on perennial maintenance needs, is especially helpful for weekend gardeners. You can save lots of time just by knowing which flowers need deadheading or pruning and which require less care before you plant your garden.

Garden Renovation: Transform Your Yard into the Garden of Your Dreams
By Bobbie Schwartz
After renovating four houses, it’s no wonder I was attracted by this book’s title. Award-winning landscape designer Bobbie Schwartz recognizes that many people buy the home of their dreams only to find the landscaping disappointing. This book will give you confidence to begin making changes, even if it means removing old trees and shrubs. Schwartz encourages you to assess goals and budgets before creating a design and determining what plants to keep and what plants to add. If you want to make your home inviting and create usable space where you will be comfortable, this book is for you.

Gardener Vicki Spencer has an eclectic background in conservation, water, natural resources and more.