Hartley Magazine

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Great Garden Books to Read in the Company of Plants

Do you overwinter plants in your greenhouse or sun porch? If it’s warm enough in there, I suggest you pull up a comfy chair near your pelargoniums or Meyer lemon and dream of spring with these terrific gardening reads. One is a beautiful coffee table book with an important message and the other’s a digital mystery series. They also make perfect gardeners’ gifts for the holidays.

Book Cover - DecPlanting in a Post-Wild World – by Thomas Rainier and Claudia West

I heard Thomas give a keynote speech at a plant conference last summer. He totally yanked my head around about gardening—hard to do after many garden years. His premise? Think of your ornamental garden as a plant community, similar to how plants grow together in nature, layered from the shortest on up, no space left unfilled.

Since then, I’ve been judging every garden I see—including my own—by that standard. And most are found wanting. What’s with all that mulch we lovingly tuck between plants to prevent weeds? Couldn’t we put in lower-growers instead? Our gardens would be more pleasing with less work and more aligned with the natural world.

Now here’s the book that shows you how. Aimed at garden designers—and all of us are designers whether we admit it or not—Planting in a Post-Wild World explains why and how you can achieve those gardens—no matter where you live. Who wouldn’t want that? Get it. Read it. And then talk to me, because this is the most exciting concept I’ve come across in ages.

The Potting Shed Mysteries – by Marty WingateTheGardenPlotAlibi_cover - Dec

Known for her practical gardening books like Landscaping for Privacy, Marty now brings her expertise to the fictional genre of cozy mysteries. This ebook series, available for all forms of digital readers, features Pru, an appealing American woman trying to make her living as a gardener in the UK.

In the first book, The Garden Plot, Pru is searching for work—the rejection letters are hilarious—and on a job site, she digs up more than last year’s bulbs. Of course Pru always tries to solve the twists and turns of whatever mysterious or murderous circumstances arise. The delightful series—four so far and more to come—is grounded in the British horticultural world. And unlike some mystery writers who wouldn’t know an azalea from a daylily, you can trust Marty to get all the gardening details exactly right.