Great Garden Gift Books

Garden books that I enjoyed this year and highly recommend as holiday gifts include two about edibles, one in my own area of specialization, one about color and design, and a regional guide I wouldn’t be without.

Grocery Gardening by Jean Ann Van Krevelen with Amanda Thomsen, Robin Ripley and Teresa O’Connor (Cool Springs Press, paperback, $19.95) is as entertaining as it is informative, and worth having for the recipes alone. These will inspire the gardeners on your list to eat fresh, either from their own gardens or farmers markets. I wondered how a book with so many authors could possibly work, but it’s like sitting down over coffee (or honeydew mint fizzes) with gardening pals and dishing about dirt. And if their names sound familiar, it’s because they’re garden bloggers.

Tomatoes Garlic Basil by Doug Oster (St. Lynn’s Press, $18.95). Don’t tell Jean Ann and the gang, but all I grew this year, vegetably-speaking, were tomatoes, garlic and basil. Evidently, I’m not alone. Oster, a talk show gardening expert and newspaper columnist, gets asked more about those edibles than any others—which inspired him to write a book. His compendium includes organic gardening tips, horticultural tales and recipes—including a yummy one for tomato soup with basil and roasted garlic.

Also on the topic of vegetable gardening, Chris McLaughlin’s new Idiot’s Guide to Heirloom Vegetables is coming out next week.

Just as Hardy Succulents by Gwen Keladis and Saxon Holt dovetails nicely with my book, Succulent Container Gardens, so does Hot Pots: Container Gardening in the Arid Southwest by Scott Calhoun and Lynn Hassler (Rio Nuevo Publishers, $19.95). Keladis’ is ideal for gardeners in climates colder and wetter than Southern California’s; Calhoun’s, for desert dwellers. Calhoun is a professional landscape designer and award-winning writer with extensive horticultural knowledge. Hassler’s photography captures his inspired designs as well as the sundrenched, occasionally quirky ambience of the desert Southwest. Both live in Tucson.

 Fearless Color Gardens: The Creative Gardener’s Guide to Jumping Off the Color Wheel by Keeyla Meadows (Timber Press, $27.95) is an exuberant celebration of color, with loads of inspiration on every intensely-illustrated page. Meadows is an artist whose work I first saw at this year’s San Francisco Flower & Garden Show, where she created a playful, metaphorical and fearlessly colorful exhibit. Whatever type of plant or garden style you and the gardeners on your list are fondest of, I’m betting you’ll enjoy it anew via the lens of Meadows’ creativity.

California Gardener’s Resource: All You Need to Know to Plan, Plant, and Maintain a California Garden, by Bruce and Sharon Asakawa (Cool Springs Press, 19.95). When the Asakawas’ earlier California Gardener’s Guide was released, it caused a sensation. Both are renowned authorities, and they share their extensive knowledge with passion and humor. Two other CA garden guides that I consider essential are Pat Welsh’s Guide to Southern California Gardening and the Sunset Western Garden Book.

Upcoming books I’m looking forward to include these from my publisher, Timber Press:
The Edible Front Yard by Ivette Soler
Handmade Garden Style by Lorene Edwards Forkner
Dry Shade by Graham Rice
My Balcony, My Garden by Fern Richardson
Sugarsnaps and Strawberries, by Andrea Bellamy

From Algonquin:
Wicked Bugs by Amy Stewart

From Cool Springs Press:
Gardening Up by Rebecca Sweet & Susan Morrison
Heirloom Vegetables, Herbs and Fruits–Savoring the Rich Flavor of the Past by Doreen Howard
Garden Rules by Jayme Jenkins and Billie Brownell

And a new ebook: How to Create Living Miniature Gardens by Janit Calvo 

Finally, this sounds intriguing, from St. Lynn’s Press: Eat Your Roses by Denise Schreiber.

About Debra Lee Baldwin

Debra Lee Baldwin gardens on "an inhospitable half acre" in Escondido, CA, near San Diego. She is an award-winning photojournalist and artist with hundreds of articles and columns to her credit. Debra's books are Designing with Succulents, Succulent Container Gardens and Succulents Simplified. www.debraleebaldwin.com.

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13 Responses to Great Garden Gift Books

  1. Pam/Digging December 5, 2010 at 11:37 am #

    Hot Pots is on my Xmas list. And I’m really looking forward to reading new books coming out by Ivette Soler, Susan Morrison and Rebecca Sweet, my garden-blogging/designing buddies from CA!

    Yes, me too! They’re all brilliant, entertaining ladies. Their books are going to be fun to read, and informative. — Debra

  2. Chris McLaughlin December 5, 2010 at 12:50 pm #

    These all look like fabulous gardening books! I’ll have to pace myself, LOL. Thanks so much for the mention, Debra!

    You’re welcome, Chris. Congratulations on your bouncing baby book! — Debra

  3. Rebecca Sweet December 5, 2010 at 4:14 pm #

    Thanks for the mention, Debra! Just seeing ‘our name in lights’ here is so exciting for us – we can hardly wait for our book to be published!

    And thanks for such a great list – I hadn’t heard of Hot Pots, and will definitely add it to my list. Even though I’m in Northern California, our summers can be blistering so the recommendations should be very appropriate!

    (I think I need to add another Bookcase to my Christmas list as well)….

    Hi, Rebecca — I can’t wait for the new crop of garden books to come out next year. Yours is much-anticipated! — Debra

  4. Fern @ Life on the Balcony December 5, 2010 at 5:03 pm #

    Thanks for including My Balcony, My Garden in your list Debra! I’m intrigued by Handmade Garden Style by Lorene Edwards Forkner, I’ll have to keep an eye out for that one.

    I love being the first to break the news. I’m a journalist at heart, always sniffing around for a scoop. — Debra

  5. Doreen Howard December 5, 2010 at 5:04 pm #

    Thanks for the mention Debra! Interested readers can pre-order the book on numerous bookseller sites.

    Good point, Doreen. I imagine most, if not all, of the upcoming books are available for pre-order. If someone gives me a gift card for a bookstore, that’s what I’m going to do! — Debra

  6. Teresa O'Connor December 5, 2010 at 5:13 pm #

    Debra, Thanks so much for including Grocery Gardening among all these other terrific gardening books. Coming from a pro like you that means a lot. Happy holidays! Teresa O’Connor

    I can’t say enough good things about Grocery Gardening. You gals did it right. Very readable, entertaining and full of great ideas and recipes. Even the layout is fun. — Debra

  7. Germi December 5, 2010 at 5:49 pm #

    Debra you DOLL! Thanks so much for the shout-out! I am adding the books you’ve enjoyed to my list (the ones I don’t have , that is) and am SO excited to read the new crop of books coming out! We are all going to be so busy reading this coming year… this is an awesome round-up!
    XOXO!!!

    Thanks, Dear Germi. I’m looking forward to a book that is as fun and effervescent as you are. — Debra

  8. janine robinson December 5, 2010 at 6:20 pm #

    these books are gorgeous! i love it that they are informative, inspiring and look great on the coffee table. thanks for sharing your pics!

    Hi, Janine — Easy enough to do. I just went to each book’s Amazon page and did a cut-and-paste of the cover. — Debra

  9. Lorene December 5, 2010 at 9:51 pm #

    Debra, nothing better than a fresh “crop” of garden books. You’ve added many to my gotta-have-it list. Thank you so much for the mention.

    My pleasure! Authors work so hard on their books, they deserve all the recognition they can get. — Debra

  10. meemsnyc December 5, 2010 at 11:51 pm #

    Looks like great books. I’ll add it to my list.

    Glad you agree ;+) Debra

  11. Scott Calhoun December 6, 2010 at 11:40 am #

    Debra, Thanks so much for the Hot Pots mention! I’m looking forward to Wicked Bugs and Handmade Garden Style next year.

    Much deserved, Scott. It’s a lovely book, full of great ideas. — Debra

  12. Susan Morrison December 6, 2010 at 1:14 pm #

    Thanks for the mention, Debra! I think I already own 75% of the books you recommend and agree they are great choices. I’m putting Keeyla’s book on my own Christmas list. Sometimes we garden designers can get a bit too refined and I love her exhuberant approach to color.

    Keeyla has a fearless design aesthetic, unique yet adaptable to the tastes and styles of others. There’s no one quite like her. — Debra

  13. Jean Ann Van Krevelen December 14, 2010 at 11:04 am #

    I wanted to say again how kind it is of you to think so highly of our book and to add it to your list! The feeling is mutual… :)

    Thank you, Jean Ann! It really is a wonderful book, very readable and fun, with great ideas and recipes. My copy is already blotchy and stained (there is no higher praise). — Debra