Top Gardening Books

By Susan Littlefield

Every year the American Horticultural Society, whose mission blends education, social responsibility, and environmental stewardship with the art and science of horticulture, presents its annual Garden Book Award in recognition of outstanding gardening books published in the previous year. Selected by a committee of horticultural experts, this year's book awards went to four books that cover the gardening spectrum from edible to ornamental gardening.

Edible Landscaping by Rosalind Creasy (Sierra Club Books, 2010, $39.95) is an updated version of her classic book, first published in 1982, that shows gardeners how to incorporate edible plants into ornamental garden design for a landscape that is both attractive and productive. This new edition contains general information on design, including solving small-space challenges, as well as an extensive encyclopedia of edibles. Beautifully designed, with lots of gorgeous photos, this book will both inspire and guide you.

Armitage's Vines and Climbers: A Gardener's Guide to the Best Vertical Plants (Timber Press, 2010, $29.95) is another helpful offering from Allan M. Armitage, who runs the research gardens at the University of Georgia. Based on his years of personal experience growing and evaluating plants, this book contains an A-Z listing of climbing plants, both annual and perennial and including new and unusual choices, that can help you add a new dimension to your landscape design.

From Art to Landscape: Unleashing Creativity in Garden Design by W. Gary Smith (Timber Press, 2010, $39.35) guides you in cultivating an artist's eye and tools in order to create a garden that combines the unique character of your setting with an expression of your own spirit. Full of innovative design ideas, this book will inspire you to craft a unique and personally meaningful garden.

In Gardening for a Lifetime: How to Garden Wiser as You Grow Older (Timber Press, 2010, $19.95), author and expert gardener Sydney Eddison confronts the physical limitations we all face as we grow older and gives excellent advice on how to keep gardening a joyful endeavor as the years advance. Drawing on her own decades of experience in her expansive Connecticut garden, as well as the wisdom of other expert yet aging gardeners, she offers both concrete, practical advice as well as suggestions on changing attitudes and expectations, so that gardening can remain a pleasure, not a chore, as we age. Even those gardeners whose knees don't yet creak will appreciate Eddison's graceful prose and find much that can help make gardening easier and more enjoyable.

To read more about the 2011 AHS Garden Book Award winners, as well as winners from previous years, visit AHS Book Awards.

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