Essential Reference Books for Gardeners

Several years ago, I wrote a book called Passport to Gardening. Each chapter included a brief overview of a particular gardening topic (from annual flowers to water gardening) and recommendations for best books on the topic. In order to make these recommendations, I reviewed more than 400 gardening books. Most of them were sent to me free of charge because I was writing reviews. Can you imagine what fun it was to have 400 gardening books arrive at my front door?

The Well-Tended Perennial Garden

The Well-Tended Perennial Garden by Tracy DiSabato-Aust

Once I’d completed the research and the book had been published, I brought most of the review copies into the office and established a terrific reference library for our customer service team. But I must admit that a few of the books remained on my own bookshelf.

When I have a gardening question, these are some of the books I find myself turning to time and again:

  • Rodale’s Encyclopedia of Organic Gardening
  • Step By Step Organic Vegetable Gardening
  • The Organic Gardeners’ Handbook of Insect and Disease Control
  • Secrets to Great Soil
  • The Well-Tended Perennial Garden
  • Four Season Harvest
  • The Gardener’s A-Z Guide to Growing Flowers
  • The Flower Gardener’s Bible
  • The Greenhouse Gardener’s Companion
  • The Flower Farmer
  • Bulbs: Four Seasons of Beautiful Blooms

What gardening books do YOU turn to most often when you have a question?

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5 Responses to Essential Reference Books for Gardeners

  1. Anonymous says:

    The Well-Tended Perennial Garden is one of my favorite gardening books also. The extensive plant lists in the back organized by color, bloom time, sun requirements and other growing necessities is a tremendous help.Dirr’s Hardy Trees and Shrubs, An Illustrated Encyclopedia is a must for anyone interested in trees and woody ornamentals. The author, Michael Dirr, has also written the Manual of Woody Landscape Plants that contains anything anyone might ever want to know on the subject. I prefer the encyclopedia because of the wonderful illustrations. Professor Dirr is quite witty which makes reading both informative and fun.

  2. George says:

    I agree.

  3. Kathy says:

    I don’t own a copy of Michael Dirr’s book, but it’s certainly considered the definitive book on trees and shrubs. Will have to put it on my Christmas list next year!I just bought a copy of the American Horticultural Society’s A-Z Encyclopedia of Garden Plants. It’s so huge that I can barely lift it off my desk, but it’s exactly the kind of one-stop reference that I need for garden writing.

  4. Anonymous says:

    I have collected many gardening books over the years, but I keep returning to some old ones over and over, Encyclopedia of Organic Gardening, Wymans Gardening Encyclopedia, Rodale’s Organic Plant Protection, The Self Sufficient Gardener, and the Best Ideas for Organic Gardening. All oldies but goodies.

  5. Bookworm says:

    I enjoyed Last Child in the Woods by Richard Louv recently, if anyone has children they should definitely read it!

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