Grow, Read, Repeat | Reader's Shelf

Late fall may seem the wrong time to read gardening books, but it is actually ideal. The following titles, devoted to growing beautiful plants indoors and out, will inspire wintertime dreams of spring and summer gardens to come and keep interior landscapes bright and glowing through chilly days.

Late fall may seem the wrong time to read gardening books, but it is actually ideal. In much of the United States, there is still time to plant spring bulbs, and seed sales are just around the corner. The following titles, devoted to growing beautiful plants indoors and out, will inspire wintertime dreams of spring and summer gardens to come and keep interior landscapes bright and glowing through chilly days.

Sarah Raven is to the U.K. what Erin Benzakein of Floret Farm is to U.S. gardeners: an expert voice, inspiration, owner of a flower farm, and supplier of seeds, plants, and more. Raven has been one of the leading figures of British gardening for decades, with a bouquet of books to her name. Her newest is a treasure, A Year Full of Flowers: Gardening for All Seasons (Bloomsbury. Jul. 2021. ISBN 9781526626110). Raven’s warm, sensible, expert voice leads gardeners through the calendar year, starting with January, where she highlights the small treasures of winter flowers. Each chapter includes ruminations and solid advice, plus lists of key varieties to grow and handy how-tos. But this book is more than an instruction manual; it is also a tour of Raven’s garden and gardening life. Read Next: In Bloom: Growing, Harvesting, and Arranging Homegrown Flowers All Year Round, by Clare Nolan, is another British take on flower gardening that provides essential information, spot-on guidance, and wonderful photos to dream about.

Readers who have become gardeners by watching BBC’s Gardeners’ World will have encountered Arthur Parkinson during the network’s visits to his sumptuous yet tiny garden, grown completely in pots on what amounts to little more than a sidewalk. In The Flower Yard: Growing Flamboyant Flowers in Containers (Kyle. Apr. 2021. ISBN 9780857839176) Parkinson reveals how he creates an abundant garden in such a tiny space. He offers practical advice such as information on soil management in pots and proper pot sizing, as well as details on pot toppers and using a windowsill as a greenhouse. He also offers inspiration and issues an open invitation to grow something glorious. The book’s tone is lavish, as are the profusion of photographs; the net effect is a submersion in flair and delight. Listen Next: Parkinson and Sarah Raven together host the podcast Grow, Cook, Eat, Arrange, where they interview fellow gardeners and discuss gardening, personal flower favorites, and planting designs.

Some of the best books on growing flowers just for the joy they bring (and the occasional arrangement they produce) are written by gardeners who make their living selling flowers at scale. Add to the list of these must-have titles Growing Flowers: Everything You Need To Know About Planting, Tending, Harvesting and Arranging Beautiful Blooms (Mango. May 2021. ISBN 9781642505504), by Niki Irving, founder of Flourish Farm. Her book is lovely to look at and lush with images, but its strength lies in its practical, clear-sighted outlook that covers the entire process of flower cultivation, from inspiration to harvest. A number of other books tread similar ground, but the particular strengths of Irving’s book are its overview of three general climate types, with a matching plant guide keyed to each. This is a game-changing outlook that alone makes Irving’s book an essential title for all flower gardening collections. Read-Alike: Floret Farm’s Cut Flower Garden, by Erin Benzakein, offers further reading on growing flowers, for profit and joy.

Flower gardening is a process centered upon tending and fostering beauty, one that promotes a meditative, self-care state, but those aspects of growing are not limited to daffodils and dahlias. Houseplants, from the nearly indestructible peace lily to the most needful orchid, offer similar pleasures and benefits. In New Plant Parent: Develop Your Green Thumb and Care for Your House-Plant Family (Abrams. 2019. ISBN 9781419732393) Darryl Cheng guides those who have found the pleasures of houseplants through every aspect of their care with chapters addressing becoming an indoor gardener and understanding light, water, soil, repotting, pruning, propagation, and pests. The second half of the book addresses specific plants. The tone is both expert and straightforward, and the many photographs are helpful for learning. Read Next: Root Nurture Grow, by Caro Langton and Rose Ray, extends the learning, helping indoor gardeners develop specific expertise in propagation.

Growing houseplants is also a process of transforming indoor space into outdoor space. Hilton Carter is an expert in this undertaking, illustrating how to infuse one’s home with plants, creating a stylish, beautiful, and abundant interior living landscape. In Wild at Home: How To Style and Care for Beautiful Plants (CICO. 2019. ISBN 9781782497134) he addresses his relationship with plants and his design esthetic that understands plants as essentials, like a rug or sofa. He suggests deciding on a statement plant, considering its form and scale, and offers advice on how to design with it by adding a pot or tray and then layering and grouping additional plants. Other aspects of the book include plant projects and home tours with further ideas for staging and designing. A final chapter addresses care and tending and offers especially detailed instructions on propagation. Readers wondering where to start will also appreciate Carter’s annotated list of recommended plants. Read Next: The Leaf Supply Guide to Creating Your Indoor Jungle, by Lauren Camilleri and Sophia Kaplan, offers more guidance on caring for and styling with houseplants.

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