Reference Books

Below are books that I find useful as part of my garden library. They are the reference books I turn to most often when I need answers to questions about plants and their care, garden design, and more. Most of these titles will be easy to find. A few are older, out-of-print books that are still very useful.

Perennials Specific Perennials Tender Perennials Annuals
Bulbs Specific Bulbs Trees & Shrubs .
Water Gardening Herb Gardening . .
Garden Design Garden Maintenance Pests & Diseases Plant Propagation


Perennials for American Gardens by Ruth Rogers Clausen and Nicolas H. Ekstrom is an excellent guide to over 3,000 species, cultivars, and hybrids for gardeners across the country.

Armitage's Garden Perennials : A Color... by Allan M. Armitage is a comprehensive photographic resource on 136 genera of perennial plants.

Hardy Herbaceous Perennials Volume I, A-K & Volume II, L-Z by Leo Jelitto and Wilhelm Schacht is a scholarly reference work on hardy perennial plants.

The Random House Book of Perennials :...Perennials, Volume 1, Early Perennials & Volume 2, Late Perennials by Roger Phillips and Martyn Rix is a photographic guide to over 2,500 plants.

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Tender Perennials

Hot Plants for Cool Climates : Susan A. Roth and Dennis Schrader is all about gardening with tropical plants in temperate zones - how to grow in the ground or in containers, with useful information on winter storage.

Plantfinder's Guide to Tender Perennials by Ian Cooke discusses how to use and display tender perennials in mixed beds, containers, and conservatories, as well as information on propagation and winter storage.

The Exotic Garden : Designing With... by Richard R. Iversen is all about designing with tropical plants in almost any climate, and using them in beds and borders as well as containers.

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Annuals With Style : Design Ideas from... by Michael A. Ruggiero and Tom Christopher has design ideas from classical to contemporary, with gardener-friendly advice on creating an inspired annual garden of your own.

Discovering Annuals by Graham Rice provides inspirational planting ideas and practical advice, along with an expert's selection of the best traditional varieties, some great new introductions as well as less familiar plants.

Annuals for Connoisseurs by Wayne Winterrowd discusses how to use annuals in and around the garden in a creative way whether planted in a border, as container plants, or as cut flowers.

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Specific Perennials

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The Plantfinder's Guide to Early Bulbs... by Rod Leeds is an in-depth look at 48 different genera of bulbs that flower in late winter and early spring, with information on where to grow them in the garden.

Bulbs for Garden HabitatsBulbs For Garden Habitats Timber Press, 2005. $29.95
I wrote this book to offer a new approach to planting bulbs, one based on matching the plants to the garden habitats where they'll thrive and return year after year. Advocating a more natural approach through careful study of a garden's habitat and the bulbs' cultural needs, it suggests adapting the planting scheme to the environment, rather than the usual fall ritual of planting bulbs by the bushel, to flower the first spring but sometimes poorly or never again after that. Choices based on climate and local ecology result in gardens that truly belong where they are sited, and dividends in the form of healthy, thriving bulbs.

Flowering Bulbs for DummiesFlowering Bulbs for Dummies I wrote this book as an informative reference for gardeners smart enough to know there's more to learn about bulbs. Out of print

The American Gardener's World of Bulbs In this book I included some history, lore and legends about bulbs as well as the expected information on how to grow and use bulbs in the garden. Out of print

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Specific Bulbs

Daffodils for American Gardens by Brent and Becky Heath is packed with detailed information by a husband-and-wife team with decades of experience in growing daffodils. They discuss planting a handful of daffodils by your front door to planting masses of daffodils in a woodland. Information on all kinds of daffodils from trumpet to jonquill, paperwhites, minatures, and more.

The Gardener's Guide to Growing Lilies by Michael Jefferson-Brown and harris Howland is a wide-ranging look at the cultivation of lilies from planting, grouping for effect, companion planting as well as propagation and hybridizing. Lovely color photographs and line drawings add to the book's appeal.

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Trees and Shrubs

Dirr's Hardy Trees and Shrubs : An... by Michael A. Dirr is an excellent, lavishly illustrated encyclopedia describing a wide range of hardy trees and shrubs by America's guru of woody plants.

Plants That Merit Attention : Trees edited by Janet Meakin Poor is a first-rate book that describes a wide range of worthy and distinctive trees for every region of the country.

Plants That Merit Attention : Shrubs... edited by Janet Meakin Poor and Nancy Peterson Brewster offers a wide selection of more than 900 unusual, beautiful, pest- and disease-resistant shrubs.

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Water Gardening

I wrote this book to take the reader from merely damp sites through moderately moist all the way to pools and ponds, with an emphasis on using native plants. Explore plants and design ideas for wet meadows, marshes, swamps, pools and ponds.

Water Gardening : Water Lilies and... by Perry D. Slocum and Peter Robinson with Frances Perry is a serious, informative book, with precise descriptions of these water plants, also includes floating water plants, those growing at the water's edge, and moisture-loving plants.

Ortho's All About Water Gardening by Greg and Sue Speichert starts you off with sound information, clear explanations, and dozens of helpful tips about designing and building a water garden, selecting and caring for plants and fish.

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Herb Gardening

Herb Garden Design by Ethne Clarke features 30 planting plans suitable for various gardens from a tiny terrace to a large plot, container, a shady corner and more. Lovely photographs of plants and gardens, and dreamy watercolor illustrations of planting plans.

Brother Cadfael's Herb Garden : An... by Rob Talbot and Robin Whiteman is based on the Ellis Peter's mysteries. This beautifully illustrated book traces the history of herb gardens, lists and describes all the herbs mentioned in the novels, and explains their various uses.

Herbs in Bloom : A Guide to Growing... by Jo Ann Gardner provides a detailed look at growing 80 different flowering herbs and related plants ofinterest, with thorough information on site selection, cultivation, and more, including appropriate landascape use and interesting historical information and lore.

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Plant Propagation

The New England Wild Flower Society... by William Cullina is an authoritative reference with clear and detailed information on growing and propagation 200 genera and 1,000 species of plants native to the United States and Canada.

Creative Propagation by Peter Thompson is a useful book providing information on the propagation of annuals and biennials from seed, how to propagate hardy perennials including grasses and ferns, propagation of trees, shrubs, roses and climbers, other plants, details of seed collecting and storage, and a directory of propagation techniques. No color pictures, just good sound information.

American Horticultural Society Plant... Alan Toogood, editor-in-chief, offers information on easy and reliable methods to increase your plants, as well as providing details on more unusual, specialized, and advanced techniques with over 1,500 individual plant entries.

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Pests and Diseases

The Garden Problem Solver A Reader's Digest Book describes the symptoms, complete with numerous illustrations, diagnoses the problem, and offers options for a cure ranging from cultural techniques to organic and inorganic treatments. Covers a wide range of trees, shrubs, flowers, vegetables, fruits and nuts.

American Horticultural Society Pests and... by Pippa Greenwood, Andrew Halstead, A. R. Chase, and Daniel Gilrein is a [practical handbook for the identification, prevention, and treatment of a wide range of plant problems, with more than 300 close-up illustrations, descriptions of symptoms and causes, with detailed advice on treatment.

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Garden Design

Perennials and Their Garden Habitats by Richard Hansen and Friedrich Stahl is an immensely useful book describing how to use perennials in gardens and parks based on ecological principles. Excellent information but don't look for color photographs to whet your appetite. A book for the more experienced gardener rather than a novice.

Designing With Plants by Piet Oudolf with Noel Kingsbury uses naturalistic planting style that emphasizes form, texture, and light along with color to create an image of nature. This popular trend in European garden design is similar in concept to American prairie-style plantings.

The Plant Growth Planner (Horticulture) by Caroline Boisset is a slim little volume packed with 200 charts for shrubs and trees that provides information on their size the 1st year winter, 3rd year spring, 6th year summer, and 12th year autumn. Perennials are shown their 1st, 2nd, and 3rd year. An immensely useful book.

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Garden Maintenance

Well-Tended Perennial Garden : Planting... by Tracey DiSabato-Aust provides an in-depth look at deadheading, pinching, cutting back, thinning, disbudding and deadleafing your perennials to keep them looking good all season long. Useful appendices offer month-by-month planting and maintenance schedules.

Caring for Perennials : What to Do and... by Janet Macunovich offers sound information on planning, prioritizing, and record-keeping to make caring for your perennials an efficient operation rather than a bunch of tedious chores. There is year-round advice on everything from the basics of planting, watering, fertilizing and staking to edging, weeding, digging and mulching that can keep your garden as pretty as your dreams.

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