Books for gardeners: Part 1


The books described here will help you create a landscape that is friendly to both you and nature. This backyard, based on native plants, is welcoming to a wide variety of birds and other creatures and highly livable for the people who created it.

If your favorite gardener is interested in native plants and sustainable gardening, he or she would love to receive one of these books as a holiday gift:

Start with Sara Stein. That’s what I did. Nearly 20 years ago, I picked up a paperback called Noah’s Garden: Restoring the Ecology of Our Own Back Yards, and my life was changed forever. It was followed a couple of years later with a large, hardcover, color book, Planting Noah’s Garden. Taken together, these two beautifully written books tell you not only why to garden with native plants and in harmony with nature but also how. They are out of print, but certainly not outdated, and copies are listed on Amazon and other suppliers of out-of-print books.

Doug Tallamy published Bringing Nature Home: How You Can sustain Wildlife with Native Plants in 2009. Tallamy doesn’t have Stein’s gifts as a writer, but he makes a strong and well argued case for planting species that have the greatest wildlife value in order to restore our local ecosystems. Tallamy is an entomologist, so for him everything starts with the insects. This year he coauthored, with Rick Darke, a much more elaborate and detailed book, The Living Landscape: Designing for Beauty and Diversity in the Home Garden. If you can’t find Planting Noah’s Garden, that would be a great choice as a guide to native and sustainable planting.

Yesterday I had the privilege of hearing Carolyn Summers speak at the monthly meeting of the landscape architecture alumni group at the New York Botanical Garden (and I walked through the new native plant garden in winter–it’s still gorgeous). Her book, Designing Gardens with Flora of the American East, is another excellent primer. She shows you how to create a garden in any style–Japanese garden, English cottage garden, New American garden–using native plants. So if you would like to use more native plants but prefer a traditional style, this book is for you.

Tomorrow I’ll post about some excellent reference books for the gardener on your list–or maybe for you.


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