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Four of the Best Gardening Books You Should Own

11th May 2021

The best gardening books offer something for seasoned gardeners and budding beginners alike. They provide a unique perspective on the age-old practice of growing and are ideal reading whether you’re on the lookout for some fresh ideas. This list offers a range of topics from the science of botany to the specific in prairie-style planting and are the perfect gift idea for a green-fingered friend. Enjoy our top four gardening books to leaf through...

1) The Art of Making Gardens

by Luciano Giubbilei

Best Gardening Books

Publisher: Merrell.

Available at: UKBookshop.org

Well known for his award-winning gardens at the RHS Chelsea Flower Show Luciano Giubbilei has been creating beautiful and serene garden designs for private houses and exhibitions across the world. Establishing his own garden design practice in London in 1997, he has gone on to win three gold medals and the Best in Show award at the RHS Chelsea Flower Show.

In recent years he has been working on an experimental flower bed in the famous garden of Great Dixter in East Sussex, a historic house and garden which as become a place of pilgrimage for horticulturists from around the world.

Exploring using structural plants, under-planting and inter-planting of bulbs, Luciano has collaborated closely with Head Gardener, Fergus Garrett to create an elegant book to explain the development of this new style of planting. He describes the philosophy by which he works and covers his time at Great Dixter across the four seasons.

Fuelled by his love of craft and traditional making techniques, the second part of the book examines craftsmen and women in the UK and beyond. Through visits to, and discussion with local artisans, he considers the contribution such work makes to his garden design.

During the final part of his book, Giubbilei takes readers on an investigation of influences under the broad themes of water, colour and texture. Revealing what it exactly is about the world that inspires him and how that is manifested in his designs, he makes specific references to his gardens for the Chelsea Flower Show in 2014 and the Venice Biennale in 2015.

With new specially commissioned photography throughout and full plant lists, this book will appeal to garden lovers everywhere, as well as those seeking a deeper understanding of the creative process behind making a garden. It offers a unique, personal insight into the work of this award-winning garden designer, his inspirations and the development of his style, with contributions from the architect John Pawson, the artist Guillem Nadal and the sculptor Ursula von Rydingsvard.

2) The Making of Place: Modern and Contemporary Gardens

by John Dixon Hunt

Best Gardening Books

Publisher: Reaktion Books.

Available at: Waterstones.com

Gardening is rich in tradition but garden design is also rich in innovation. With many gardens explicitly designed to refer to or honour the past, John Dixon Hunt challenges readers to break away from what we have always known and open our minds to join him in exploring the variety of approaches, aesthetics and achievements in garden design throughout the world.

Emeritus Professor of the History and Theory of Landscape at the University of Pennsylvania, John Dixon Hunt edits the journal Studies in the History of Gardens and Designed Landscape and is the author of many books including ‘A World of Gardens’ and ‘The Making of a Place’.

From imposing sculptures discovered in woodlands, to urban community gardens and disused rail tracks, this book offers insights into the history and makeup of contemporary gardens and whether they reflect the priorities of modern society.

Bringing new ideas and materials into the world, or seeking the reinvention of ancient cultures, this historical novel / gardening guide examines the differences between cultures and countries around the world, including the United Kingdom, France, Germany, the United States, China and Australia.

An accessible tour of modern garden landscapes that gives non-designers, as well as specialists a new view of the created outdoor world around them, Dixon Hunt has created a richly illustrated piece of literature that is sure to enchant and inspire even the most modest of home gardeners.

3) RHS Botany for Gardeners: The Art and Science of Gardening

by Simon Maughan

Best Gardening Books

Publisher: Mitchell Beazley, Octopus Books.

Available at: UKBookshop.org

A beautifully illustrated guide to the mysteries of botanical terms and the science of plants, RHS Botany for Gardeners is more than just a useful reference book. From the publisher of the bestselling RHS Latin for Gardeners, RHS Botany for Gardeners, this practical, hands-on guide is written to help gardeners understand how plants grow, what affects their performance and how to get better results from your garden.

Inspired by the world's leading botanists whilst studying Plant Science at the University of Edinburgh, Simon Maughan has spent the last twenty-five years furthering his knowledge and developing a love of practical gardening and plants.

He was employed in 1995 to work on the RHS A-Z of Garden Plants and to date has worked on dozens of gardening books covering all aspects of the subject from species of rhododendrons to garden design and everything in between.

Illustrated throughout with beautiful botanical prints and simple diagrams, RHS Botany for Gardeners is divided into chapters that cover various topics and provides easy-to-understand explanations of over 3,000 botanical words and terms.

These are further subdivided into useful headings such as 'Seed Sowing' and 'Pruning'. 'Botany in Action' which are crammed full of practical tips and advice to show readers how these can be applied to everyday gardening practice.

Aided by this book, gardeners will unlock the wealth of information that lies within the intriguing world of botanical science - and their gardens will thrive as a result. This is the perfect gift for any gardener.

“Clever... valuable introduction to the study of plant science" - Gardeners Illustrated

4) New Wild Garden: Natural-Style Planting and Practicalities

by Ian Hodgson

Best Gardening Books

Publisher: Frances Lincoln.

Available at: UKBookshop.org

With serious concern into the decline of pollinators and habitats, meadows are currently the focus of enormous creativity. Gardeners, wildlife lovers, professional designers and seed manufacturers are all pushing for us to embrace a more naturalistic approach to our outdoor spaces and advocating the benefits that this provides for our gardeners and wildlife.

The New Wild Garden combines more naturalistic design with the practical side of growing wildflowers. Showing readers how to incorporate wildflowers, real meadows and a looser prairie-style planting into their gardens and wild spaces, Ian Hodgson sets out a 15 point, step-by-step project and an essential plant list, as well as offers inspiration to gardeners who are followers of this most influential movement in garden design.

Former editor of The Garden magazine (published by the Royal Horticultural Society) and member of the Publications Committee of Plants Heritage (NCCPG), Hodgson has over 25 years' experience as a writer and editor for the horticultural press. He is a qualified landscape architect and is currently Editor-at-Large for Garden News and Garden Answers magazines.

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