Books make a great gift because they contain the precious gift of knowledge. Here are eight gardening books for all types of folks, whether they garden outside or indoors, or just cook with vegetables that others grow.
To start off — who doesn’t like a cookbook? “The Renee’s Garden Cookbook” by Renee Shepherd and Fran Raboff (Shepherd Publishing) is the third cookbook offered by the owner of Renee’s Garden Seeds (the same Renee who helped Michelle Obama start the vegetable garden at the White House). Full of yummy and easy recipes, it also contains tips for vegetable gardening.
If vegetable gardening appeals, “The Salad Garden” by Joy Larkcom (Frances Lincoln Limited) is a fresh look at the topic, investigating lesser known greens such as chervil and orache, as well as heirlooms like arugula and rainbow chard. Edible flowers and sprouts are not neglected either. Useful for the beginning and advanced gardener alike, the book offers an array of vegetables to perk up your plate and palate.
Flowers are fun, especially flowers that are easy to grow in our climate, such as iris and flowering tobacco. Two books from experts in their field offer one of a kind enjoyment. “Illustrated Guide to Flowering Tobacco for Gardens” by Richard Pocker clearly illustrates his in-depth knowledge of this charming plant with hummingbird-pollinated flowers that come in a wide variety of colors and sizes. Well written and well illustrated, with photos that will make you want to add flowering tobacco plants to your garden right now, although they do best in warmer weather. “Beardless Irises: A Plant for Every Garden Situation” by Kevin C. Vaughn (Schiffer Publishing Ltd.) highlights the fact that a number of iris species originate in arid environments, so they can be right at home in Southern Arizona, especially the Spuria irises, the subject of an extensive chapter. Large format with sumptuous photographs — and the tips on selecting and growing irises are very useful.
“Urban Flowers” by Carolyn Dunster (Frances Lincoln Limited) is a charmer. It offers growing tips for the beginning gardener, as well as some creative floral design ideas for all levels. Dunster reminds us that you can reap large rewards in a small scale garden. Less can be more.
“Yards” by California landscape designer Billy Goodnick (St. Lynn’s Press), offers many useful points to ponder as you consider your yard and how to use the outdoor space around your home. The photos inspire ideas and are worthy of a coffee table book. Goodnick’s book is useful for those who don’t want to get their hands dirty, and also for those who love to do it themselves.
For those who prefer indoor gardening, here are two books to help with that. “Indoor Gardening the Organic Way” by Julie Bawden Davis (Taylor Trade Publishing) is a good starter volume. This mother of three offers time-saving tips for growing indoor plants in a bustling home, filling the space with oxygen-producing plants in a kid-safe manner. “Houseplants” by Lisa Eldred Steinkopf (Cool Springs Press) is billed as a “complete guide” and it is. Any number of houseplant books come out every year, and this is my pick for 2017. Steinkopf has been growing and sharing her love for houseplants since a tender age, and she does so here with writing that reflects her love of the subject matter combined with helpful accuracy.
As a child I was delighted to get books of my very own. Once I got older, I realized that the adults in my life enjoyed picking out books as much as I did receiving them. The pure joy of spending hours browsing in a bookstore! While there are fewer brick and mortar bookstores than there once were, Tucson is lucky to still have a nice selection in which to shop. I urge you to shop local for some of these gardening books this winter.
Jacqueline Soule, Ph.D., has been writing about gardening in our region for over three decades. Her most recent book, “Month by Month Guide to Gardening in Arizona, Nevada and New Mexico” (Cool Springs Press, 2016), is available in local garden shops. It is a companion volume to “Southwest Fruit & Vegetable Gardening” (Cool Springs Press, 2014).