If there’s a gardener in your life and you are still wondering what to buy them for Christmas, take my advice, you really can’t go wrong with one of these books. This is a personal choice which reflects my particular interests but actually it’s pretty diverse – like the world of gardens and gardening itself – so there’s bound to be one that suits.
1. Rhapsody in Green – Charlotte Mendelson (Kyle Books £16.99)
Not the usual garden read, Rhapsody in Green made me smile. Charlotte Mendelson has a small garden in Kentish Town – there’s a mistake at the start where she says it is 6 m2 then goes on to describe its length and width which makes it considerably bigger – but hey, we get the idea – this is not a garden with acres to play with. Mendelson gives us an honest account of what she does in the garden, her hopes and dreams and the reality – it’s frankly a great relief to know it’s not just me who has garden failures and some of her descriptions are inspired.
2. The Secret Life of the Georgian Garden – Kate Felus (I.B. Tauris £17.99)
The thing I like most about gardens is their story. Every garden is the product of its time and its creator and is effectively a cultural artifact revealing all sorts of things about any given era. For instance, today we are very keen on eco gardening because as a society we are struggling with the sustainability of the planet. In this book Kate Felus looks at what the Georgians did in their gardens – it’s fascinating and, of course, there’s sex in there too, as there always is in a garden one way or another.
3. A Botanist’s Vocabulary – Susan K Pell & Bobbi Angell (Timber Press £7.99)
I am not keen on this cover – it’s far too serious which is a shame as learning how to get to grips with all those Latin terms can actually be fun. No, trust me, it can. And the thing is, once you absorb one or two terms the rest seem to fall into place and it all begins to be obvious and you can feel so very, very clever. Take sempervirens for instance; it just means ever (semper) and green or alive (virons) – so you know from now on and for the rest of your life that any plant with sempervirons in its name will be an evergreen. Easy.
4. RHS A-Z Encyclopedia of Garden Plants 4th edition – edited by Christopher Brickell (Dorling Kindersley £75)
This is a pretty massive tome (and don’t be put off by the RRP you can buy it for a much reduced price), but if you, like me, like to leaf through an actual paper book, this is the one for you. The perfect present for anyone who (again like me), has an older version and would love to spoil themselves with this one but can’t justify the self indulgence.
5. Wildflowers of Britain Month by Month – Margaret Eskine Wilson (Merlin Unwin £8.99)
I confess to not having seen this book in the flesh yet but it sounds like it is exactly what I am looking for. I used to live in Shropshire not far from Ludlow, which is the home of the publishers Merlin Unwin (by the way Merlin is his real first name which I find excessively attractive but my children tell me that’s weird so..). Anyway, I used to love strolling down the lanes trying to pick out the flowers I knew but failing miserably most of the time. I did buy a field guide but it took so long to thumb through all the pages of say, yellow flowers, that I often gave up. This must be a great book to take along – just open to the month (give or take I’m guessing as we are in a time of climate change) et voila.
So that’s it – my top 5 books of the 2016. Please let me know if you have loved a garden book which was published this year.Subscribe to our blog