The Homeowners Column

The Homeowners Column

Books for Gardeners

Photo of Sandra Mason

Sandra Mason
State Master Gardener Coordinator

Gardeners make it through the dreary days of winter by dreaming of next year's garden. We are eternal optimists. We have to be, otherwise we would have hung up the trowel after the third rabbit vs. us episode.

Gardening is America's favorite hobby, so odds are there is a gardener on your gift list. Garden books are always appreciated. These happen to be some of my favorites, at least this week.

A drab winter landscape calls out for the color and texture of conifers. Gardening with Conifers by Adrian Bloom should be on your book list to go beyond evergreen windbreaks and hedges. This book is full of beautiful photographs on selection, design, pruning and care of conifers. It includes conifer companions and photographs and information on over 600 conifers.

One of my favorite garden authors is Ken Druse. His books always contain lots of useful information and beautiful photographs. He is a prolific writer but some of his most popular books include: The Natural Garden, The Natural Shade Garden, The Collector's Garden, and Making More Plants: the Science, Art and Joy of Propagation.

His most recent book, The Passion for Gardening was awarded the book of the year by The American Horticultural Society. In this book Druse shows how gardening is more than putting plants in the ground. Gardens and gardeners are always evolving. Learn through Ken's magnificent photography how inspired gardeners have enriched their homes, hearts, minds and lives. If you would like to hear Ken Druse in person, he will be speaking at our Garden Day 2005 on March 5 at the Holiday Inn in Urbana. Mark your calendars.

For the perennial flower gardener some good authors include Tracy DiSabato-Aust, Janet Macunovich, Allan Armitage and Colston Burrell.

I consider The Well-Tended Perennial Garden by Tracy DiSabato-Aust as a "must have" for anyone with a perennial garden. She details how to care for specific plants and the basics of planting and dividing perennials. Her additional book, The Well-Designed Mixed Border, guides you on how to put all those wonderful plants together for effective designs.
Janet Macunovich has an easy to understand style in both her books - Caring for Perennials and Design your Gardens and Landscapes.

Allan Armitage is a plant guru with a southern accent. His books include Herbaceous Perennial Plants, Armitage's Annuals, Biennials and Half-Hardy Perennials, Armitage's Garden Annuals and Armitage's Garden Perennials.

For some tips on design Colston Burrell gives specific information in his book Perennial Combinations. It's a great book for those new to garden design.

If interests include ornamental grasses, The Color Encyclopedia of Ornamental Grasses by Rick Darke is a good place to start.

For the tree lover in the family look for books by Michael A. Dirr, who was once a professor here at the U of I. His books include Manual of Woody Landscape Plants and Dirr's Hardy Trees and Shrubs. Darke, Dirr and Armitage also offer CD's.

For the nature lover, how about Field Guide to Butterflies of Illinois by John Bouseman and James Sternburg. This is one of the field guides published by the Illinois Natural History Survey. All the guides are filled with beautiful photographs and information on the wild things of Illinois. INHS PH:217-333-6880.

U of I publication Vegetable Gardening in the Midwest by C.E. Voigt and J.S. Vandemark is a "must have" for people who prefer to eat their landscapes.

Here's to the gardener! To paraphrase Beard and McKie from their Gardener's Dictionary: Gardeners are charity minded individuals who nurture vast numbers of free outdoor restaurants in an effort to provide healthful, well-balanced meals for insects, birds and animals.

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