Great Garden Books: 19 Choices for a Winter Escape

great garden booksWith the holidays over and the garden still blanketed in snow, what’s a gardener to do to survive the cold, dark days of winter? Dream of spring blooms, of course! And what’s the best way to prepare for a new garden season? Rest, rejuvenate, and reap garden inspiration by reading great garden books!

With thousands of garden books available, where should you begin? We asked our gardening friends, both professionals and home gardeners, for their favorite book recommendations—and what an amazing selection they provided! (We also tucked in a few of our favorite reads, too.) To help you find the perfect book, take a look at our categories.

Are you looking for how-to references to build great soil? Got it! Want to indulge in beautiful photos of inspired garden designs? Check. Or maybe you’re a history lover fascinated with the gardens of your favorite poet…we have recommendations for that, too! While certainly not an all-inclusive list, we’re sure you’ll find a great garden books to help you while away gloomy winter days!

(Click the book title for more info.)

For How-To Enthusiasts… 

Rodale’s Ultimate Encyclopedia of Organic Gardening

Deborah L. Martin

Want to create great soil? Need to learn the basics of companion planting? Plan to garden in a way that’s kind to the earth? For more than 50 years, this gardening tome serves as the go-to resource for organic gardening. A classic.

Gardening Under Lights: The Complete Guide for Indoor Growers

Leslie F. Halleck

If you really can’t wait until spring to start growing, you’ll love this book! Halleck details everything you need to garden indoors, from understanding photosynthesis to recommending the best tools to sharing tips and techniques for growing ornamentals and edibles indoors.

The Year-Round Vegetable Gardener: How to Grow Your Own Food 365 Days a Year, No Matter Where You Live

Niki Jabbour

Gardening in Nova Scotia, Jabbour knows her subject inside and out. Even in the coldest months of the year, she’s harvesting fresh, delicious produce—and you can, too. She shares her tips for the best varieties to grow, how to build inexpensive structures to protect plants from the elements, and much more.

Great Garden Books For Science Lovers…

How Plants Work: The Science Behind the Amazing Things Plants Do

Linda Chalker-Scott

Do you wonder why your hydrangea that bloomed beautifully last year isn’t performing as planned this summer? Can’t understand why your container plant wilts, even though it’s watered? Chalker-Scott uncovers the mysteries of plant physiology and helps you understand how to best care for your green babies.

Lab Girl

Hope Jahren

A highly acclaimed memoir of scientist Hope Jahren, who built laboratories in which she studied trees, flowers, seeds, and soil. While a revelation about plant life, her story also shares the complexities of work and love.

For Tree-Huggers…

The Hidden Life of Trees: What They Feel, How They Communicate—Discoveries from a Secret World

Peter Wohlleben, Jane Billinghurst, et al.

Forester and author Wohlleben shares the amazingly complex social network of forests. Through groundbreaking discoveries, he shows how trees interact like human families, with tree parents living with their children, communicating and supporting them, and even warning them of impending danger.

For Garden Design Inspiration…

Naturalistic Planting Design

Nigel Dunnett

Dunnett’s gorgeous city gardens and landscapes resonate with the energy of the natural world, providing successive waves of colorful perennials without extensive irrigation or other resources. He shares the history of natural planting, shows how wild plant communities work together in a garden setting, and offers recommendations for plant selection.

Planting the Natural Gardennatural garden books

Piet Oudolf and Henk Gerritsen

Internationally renowned designer Piet Oudolf spearheaded the New Perennial Movement, a revolution in landscape design that transforms public and private spaces with naturalistic use of hardy perennials and grasses. This update to the classic reference includes new plants and combinations. Plus, the gorgeous visuals will make you start dreaming of transforming your garden space into the ethereal, moody designs favored by Oudolf.

The Gardens of Bunny Mellon

Linda Jane Holden

Famous garden designer Mellon created outdoor spaces for some of the wealthiest, most prominent society members, including the design and creation of the Rose Garden and the East Garden at the White House, as well as the gardens of couturier Hubert de Givenchy. Her plans, sketches, and watercolors, along with archival photos, give you an inside glimpse into great garden design.


For History Buffs…

Emily Dickinson’s Gardening Life: The Plants and Places That Inspired the Iconic Poet

Marta McDowell

Exploring Dickinson’s deep passion for plants and how it inspired her writing, McDowell reveals details about the poet few people know. She traces a year in her garden, offering a fresh perspective and insight into Dickinson.

The Food Explorer: The True Adventures of the Globe-Trotting Botanist Who Transformed What America Eats

Daniel Stowe

The true adventures of David Fairchild, a late 19th century food explorer, who traveled the world and introduced new crops, like mangoes, seedless grapes, and avocados—along with thousands of others—to America.

For Gardening with Kids…

Nature Play at Home: Creating Outdoor Spaces that Connect Children with the Natural World

Nancy Striniste

Unplug the kids and create outdoor adventures in your own backyard! Hundreds of ideas and step-by-step projects show how to use natural materials to make fabulous outdoor play spaces.

Gardening with Emma: Grow and Have Fun: A Kid-to-Kid Guide

Emma Biggs and Steven Biggs

Thirteen-year-old Emma Biggs shares her gardening passion, enticing kids to grow healthy food and awesome plants. A perfect gift for the kids in your life.

For Wildlife Garden Planning…

Butterfly Gardening: The North American Butterfly Association Guide

Jane Hurwitz

Learn how to create beautiful habitats that attract and support butterflies. Detailed information shows which plants support which butterflies, what they require over the course of their lives, and how to become a butterfly watcher, as well as a butterfly gardener. 

Pollinator Friendly Gardening: Gardening for Bees, Butterflies, and Other Pollinators

Rhonda Fleming Hayes

Want to do your part to help local pollinators flourish? Hayes identifies pollinators, including bees, butterflies, and hummingbirds, as well as often overlooked ants, beetles, and wasps. She shares detailed information for plant selection, hardscape ideas, habitat building, and growing practices that give pollinators their best chance to survive and thrive in the garden

great garden booksFor Flower Lovers…

In Bloom: Growing, Harvesting, and Arranging Homegrown Flowers All Year Round

Clare Nolan

If you love homegrown floral bouquets, you’ll adore this book! Brimming with inspirational photos that will chase away your winter blues, Nolan shares her secrets for growing a gorgeous, bountiful harvest of blooms.

For Fiction with a Gardening Twist…

The Overstory

Richard Powers

Winner of the 2019 Pulitzer Prize in Fiction. An impassioned work of activism and resistance, centering on the natural world. From antebellum New York to the Timber Wars of the Pacific Northwest and beyond, Powers shows that there’s a vast world alongside ours.

Garden Spells

Sarah Addison Allen

A curious family endowed with peculiar gifts, a feisty apple tree that bears prophetic fruit, edible flowers imbued with special powers. This is a gardening/fiction lover’s perfect winter escape.

Language of Flowers

Vanessa Diffenbaugh

A young woman who spent a childhood in the foster care system realizes that she has a gift for helping others through the flowers she chooses for them.

So, make yourself a cozy cup of tea, huddle under your blanket with your some great garden books, and enjoy preparing for your best gardening season in the new decade! Enjoy!

For more gardening inspiration, be sure to join Rozanne’s Inner Circle!