Monday, December 17

Gardener's Bookshelf - Gift giving ideas

I don't know a gardener who doesn't appreciate adding another book to their gardening shelf. So, I decided to choose a couple of my favorites from my collection and share with you why they would make great gifts for each of the flower buds on your Christmas list.

If you don't have an "alphabeticalized" book to look up plants yet I suggest this large hardcover gem:

1. Taylor's Guides: Encyclopedia of Garden Plants by Frances Tenenbaum (editor)
I think an encyclopedia of plants is a must for any gardener's library and Taylor's Guide is one of the finest out there. It is a hefty book , measuring at 12" x 9" and 1 3/4" thick with 447 pages. There is a photo for every genus and you will also find full-paged photos at the start of every letter in the alphabet, as well as breathtaking two-page spreads at the beginning of the book - love those touches! For every genus it will list also list the different species and varieties within that genus with excellent plant descriptions and even a section on how to grow and propagate that particular plant. The glossary and index in the back is a time-saver and certainly a needed element in any book like this.  It's obviously going to be more expensive than a lot of other gardening books, but its a valuable edition to any gardener's  library.

2. Timber Press Pocket Guide to Bulbs by John E. Bryan
I enjoy bulbs so much and it's always a treat to flip through a book that lists most of my options with full color photos of every plant. The Timber Press Pocket Guide to Bulbs is a book that includes a large selection listed from A-Z according to their scientific names. It was nice to also see the common name for each plant right below the Latin one. This book isn't just a field guide with name, photo, and description, but it also is a great guide for figuring out where to plant a particular bulb. It includes a good sized list of Bulbs for Specific Purposes and Locations - what a great idea to include in a field guide.  I find that some books will tell you a little about the plant, but leave out the important information on where that particular plant will thrive. This pocket guide includes all the necessary information and even has an informative introduction where it explains what a bulb is, how to plant bulbs, and even the common diseases and pests and how to combat them. It's a great little book at 227 pages (including zone maps, nursery sources, glossary, and index) and the perfect gift for your gardening friend.

3. The Plant Propagator's Bible by Miranda Smith
I hate to purchase a full grown plant for $$$ when I am able to gather knowledge and experience by starting it myself. So this propagator's bible comes in handy when I want to try my hand at starting a new plant. It is 192 pages, loaded (and I mean loaded) with everything you need to know about propagating plants from (including pollinating, harvesting and storing your own seed), division, cuttings, layering, and grafting. The back of the book also includes a Plant Directory where the author presents some of her favorite plants to propagate, organized from A-Z by genus and giving the reader the recommended propagation methods and potential problems and solutions you may have along the way. The photos are plentiful, but I think the graphics out weigh the photos. For every how-to step a well drawn computer graphic illustrates the procedure. If you have a serious gardener on your Christmas list then I'd definitely get him/her this book.

4. Bulbs in the Basement, Geraniums on the Windowsill: How to Grow and Overwinter 165 Tender Plants by Alice and Brian McGowan
The next book is part of a tender plant craze I am on, but I have to say it is just a plain enjoyable read even before I found myself covering every inch of window space. The authors are a cute couple who continue to grow in experience and knowledge about growing and overwintering tender perennials. With 18 years in the nursery business they worked with 100's of plants, learning about their individual needs and now they share this knowledge with the world in this book.
Bulbs in the Basement has all the information I'd ever want about growing tender perennials. It is 208 pages (including the index) with many high quality photos and just the right amount of watercolor illustrations. The books answers questions like "What is a tender perennial", "Which containers do I use", "What soil do I use", "How do I prune or trim my plant", "How do I take care of pests", "How do I overwinter my plants", and "How do I propagate my houseplants." Besides answering general plant questions the authors also devoted almost 2/3 of the book to over 160 specific plants. 160 plants of what they consider the very best specimens for indoor conditions. There are also easy to read charts in the back that make it real easy for me to choose the right plant for my space and environment.

5. Producing Vegetable Crops by John Swiader, George Ware, and J. P. McCollum
As a farmer this book comes in real handy, but it's also a nice read for lazy days when I am in the mood for reading up on the history of the rutabaga or the beginning of sweet corn as we know it. It's a very informative book and if you are looking for a more scientific approach to your vegetable garden this book will help you understand growing, soil, fertilization, controlling pests, harvesting, and lots more. 611 pages including appendix, glossary and index with a total of 30 and 16 of those are devoted to specific vegetable crops. The book starts out with a detailed look at the vegetable industry, classification of vegetables, plant growth and development, breeding and improving vegetables, crop establishment (transplanting and direct-field seeding), soil management and fertilization, weed management, irrigating and mulching, controlling insects and diseases, postharvest handling of vegetables, and I think you get the picture! Very in-depth book that will be a source you will come to time and time again.

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