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Gardening & Landscaping Books: Book Reviews

Browse this book review site before buying gardening and landscaping books as gifts. My book reviews focus on landscaping books for beginners. Get some gift ideas for your outdoorsy friends! I generally don't bother reviewing a book unless I find that I like it right away, so you'll find more positive book reviews here than negative.
  1. Books on Hardscape (6)
  2. Books on Lawn Care (4)
  3. Books on Landscape Planning (4)
  4. Gardening Books (8)

Review - "Encyclopedia of Planting Combinations"
Encyclopedia of Planting Combinations is helpful in terms of making a lot of pertinent information about plant groupings (inspired by desired color schemes) readily available to you as you plan your landscape. But it does have a few drawbacks, as I detail here.

Before You Buy Gardening and Landscaping Books....
If you've navigated to a page dedicated to reviews of gardening and landscaping books, there's a good chance you desire advice that will help you make up your mind before you make a purchase. But I also want to help you get the most out of a book after you've bought it. Either way, here's a good place to start.

"The Shade Garden: Shade-Loving Plants for Year-Round Interest"
"The Shade Garden: Shade-Loving Plants for Year-Round Interest" tries to cram too much into its allotted space. It's redeeming feature is its appendix. Read my review to learn more about this book written by an author well-known in the gardening community.

A Year in the Garden?
An alternative title for either the preceding entry or this one (An Ecology of Enchantment) could be "A Year in the Garden." Each book takes the reader chronologically through a year in the garden. That similarity notwithstanding, I lay out how the two books differ here, so as to provide readers with a clear choice.

"Gardening for a Lifetime: How to Garden Wiser As You Grow Older"
You can't judge a book by its cover. You can't even judge this one by its title! I fear that the word "Older" in the title could mislead some folks into thinking that this is just about gardening for the elderly. It's not. The fact is, many younger people who complain of being "too busy" for gardening could learn something here.

Flower Bulbs Book
I'm not alone in looking forward to flowering bulb displays in spring. The arrival of these special flowers lets millions of plantaholics know that Old Man Winter has finally been put to rest. But there are flowering bulbs to enjoy during the other seasons, too. Anna Pavord's book gives us a colorful introduction to the world of bulbs.

"Armitage's Garden Perennials"
Armitage's Garden Perennials is a reference book written by someone who gardens in the South. But Armitage informs us of which regions a particular plant cultivar performs best in, so readers across America will find his advice helpful. You will come back to this text again and again to help make decisions about plant purchases.

"Weeds" - Review of Richard Mabey's Book
Are weeds bad? Since the subtitle of his book refers to a "defense" of weeds, you can assume that author Richard Mabey would answer that question with a no. But it would be too simplistic to state categorically that weeds are good. Mabey has tackled a complex issue, indeed!

Identify Weeds With the Ultimate Weed Book
Whereas the book covered in the preceding entry is introspective (a literary work, really), this one gets right down to business: it will help you identify the urban and suburban weeds that you've perhaps passed by your entire life -- without ever learning what the heck they're called! A real eye-opener!

Newcomb's Wildflower Identification Guide
When consulting wildflower identification texts, are you used to having to flip through page after page, just hoping to hit upon the plant you're looking for? That's a willy-nilly approach, is it not? Newcomb's wildflower guide takes a different tack: it uses a "key" system. Learn about it in my review.

Wildflower Book: North Woods Wildflowers
Ladd's North Woods Wildflowers is more of a typical wildflower identification book, as opposed to that in the prior entry. Flowers are grouped by color. The key system employed by Newcomb is more logical, but not everyone is drawn to logical approaches; if that describes you, you may prefer this guide.

Flora Mirabilis
Flora Mirabilis is certainly a different kind of gardening book than the ones described so far: it's a historical text. Are you enthralled when you browse through the old "herbals?" If so, you'll love Flora Mirabilis; and if you're not familiar with the tradition of herbals, Flora Mirabilis will serve as an introduction.

Gardening Book on Hardy Succulent Plants
Succulents are a fascinating group of plants that lend their own unique set of textures to a landscape design. Some are hardy, capable of performing well deep into the North. Learn about them in this well-illustrated gardening book.

"Landscape Lessons": Landscaping by the Seasons of the Year
The layout of Landscape Lessons provides a clue as to the author's approach. This landscaping book has four chapters -- one for each of the seasons of the year. You can read Landscape Lessons as if it were a gardening journal (but a journal packed with information!).

Native Plants Book
What makes some gardeners native plant enthusiasts? For one thing, plants native to a region are easy to grow in that region, because they're well-adapted to its conditions. Others tout the growing of native plants as a way of preserving the botanical heritage of a region.

Learn How to Attract Wildlife With Your Landscaping
Do you wish to attract wildlife with your landscaping? Many people do (well birds and butterflies, at least; maybe not deer!). Problem is, they don't know what specific plants to grow for this purpose, and many books on the subject are useless, as they fail to discuss plants for your region. This book remedies that.

Book on How to Attract Birds
This landscaping book on attracting birds is even more thorough than the one described in the prior entry. But it does come, after all, from The Audubon Society! This text leaves no stone unturned in telling you how to draw those winged wonders to the yard. You might be surprised to learn what mulch and weeds have to do with attracting birds.

Book on Growing Wild Orchids
This wild orchid book has one thing in its favor: nice pictures. Unhappily, there is little else to recommend it. Author, William Mathis repeats himself too much for a book of this size (it's relatively short). This would be a winner if the text matched the photos in stature, but alas, I found the former wanting.

"The Color Encyclopedia of Ornamental Grasses"
This is another landscaping book that's brimming with great pictures. But Rick Darke complements those photos with detailed information about the families into which all the ornamental grasses are grouped. Browse pictures of rushes, sedges, and even bamboos.

Review - "The Passionate Gardener"
In Des Kennedy's "The Passionate Gardener," the topics for his ample sense of humor range from the minutiae of his own gardening activities to his far-flung adventures as a horticultural continent-hopper.

Ortho Landscaping Book: "All About Flowering Trees and Shrubs"
This book is a companion piece to Complete Guide to Trees and Shrubs (see next entry). But it is specifically about flowering trees and shrubs. The book kicks off with information on creating year-round interest by using flowering trees and shrubs, before turning to some practical tips on growing the plants.

Ortho's "Complete Guide to Trees and Shrubs"
This is a good choice if you wish to focus on tree and shrub care, especially pruning. There are some handy lists here, too, plus an appendix with zone information and metric conversions. For good measure, woody vines are covered, as well.

Gardening Books: "Landscaping for Dummies"
When I first encountered the "Dummies" series many years ago, I admit to being dubious about it. I thought to myself, "I'm not a dummy!" But I soon learned to appreciate the way in which the series breaks down the complex, making it more understandable -- and all the while with a sense of humor. This landscaping book is no exception.

Gothic Gardening: Book on Black Plants
Do you like to grow plants with dark foliage and/or blossoms? Then you'll love this book. Karen Platt is recognized as the authority on so-called "black" plants. Pick up some ideas on plant selection and combinations from Karen and "go Goth" in your yard -- well before Halloween!

How to Make Scarecrows
Speaking of Halloween, are you tired of making the same old scarecrows year after year to decorate for Halloween? Then you could profit from reading this book. In this case, the title speaks volumes: Creative Scarecrows. Every kind of scarecrow you could think of is presented here.

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