A cultivated patch of fertile plots and well-tended prose.

A World of Gardens 

By John Dixon Hunt

This captivating and richly illustrated work from University of Pennsylvania landscape scholar John Dixon Hunt explores with most un-academic brio the fascinating variety of gardens found the world over. From the rough volcanic rocks used in Japanese gardens to the carefully-tended topiary of Versailles, Hunt’s magnificent tour of global horticulture opens our eyes to the garden in its many guises: playground, theater, laboratory, and cathedral.

The Garden Primer

By Barbara Damrosch

How deep do you plant irises? What kind of soil does asparagus like? How do you plant a tree? Prune roses? Force tulips? Select tools? Damrosch has collected every tidbit of knowledge necessary for gardening success in this straightforward, well-illustrated tome. If you buy one instructional book, this should be it.


Embroidered Ground 

By Page Dickey

Celebrated gardener Page Dickey has spent thirty years cultivating a plot covering as many acres, now known as Duck Hill. Hovering between a memoir and an artist’s detailed record of her life’s masterwork, her new book introduces readers to her garden’s residents (Pennisetum and an “old-lady pink” Viburnum, dogwood and feverfew) as if they were citizens of a fairy nation. Our reviewer, Peter Lewis, writes, “She loves her garden as if it were a child — with joy, distress, responsibility, guilt — which is the most beautiful thing of all.” (Click here to read Lewis’s review.)

Down the Garden Path

By Beverley Nichols

“I bought my cottage by sending a wireless to Timbuctoo from the Mauretania, at midnight, with a fierce storm lashing the decks.” So begins this most enjoyable and stylish record of one man’s garden. Nichols’s 1932 memoir of a cottage in the British countryside and its attendant flora has lost none of its droll appeal.

Gardens for a Beautiful America, 1895-1935 

By Sam Watters

Published in collaboration with the Library of Congress, this collection of 250 dazzling colored photographs of American gardens by Frances Benjamin Johnston showcases images that haven’t been seen since 1940. As Gilded Age industrialism took its toll on America’s natural landscapes, moneyed society women turned to Johnston to teach them how to green their estates. These images, first used as lantern slides in her lectures, are vintage windows onto a verdant world.

Old Herbaceous: A Novel of the Garden

By Reginald Arkell

Rather than stop at just five books, we had to stretch a point to include this novel of the garden — can you think of another? Combining the jollity of Wodehouse and the pleasures of a country house tour, Arkell’s 1950 tale chronicles Bert Pinnegar’s eight decades in an English manor house garden, from his youth as a flower-loving orphan to his old age as an estimable master of the plots. Sheer delight and the lone fiction entry in the Modern Library Gardening series edited by Michael Pollan.