Gardeners know fall is the time to invest in the future: plan for next spring and summer’s perennials, buy bulbs, plant shrubs and trees. As temperatures turn cooler, these six books will inspire anyone who tends plants or just loves to read about them.
For the armchair gardener
The Gardener’s Garden
by Phaidon Editors
Pure garden eye candy wrapped in beautiful coral-colored linen, The Gardener’s Garden is a stunning coffeetable tome filled with 1,200 color images of more than 250 of the world’s finest public and private gardens. The common thread? You’ll want to visit every single one. In 480 pages, you’ll travel to 45 countries on five continents and see the work of horticulturists from the 14th century to the present day—from a desert oasis in Iran to a Gothic Revival castle garden in New Zealand. The text is minimal—a rundown of key facts and detailed captions by specialists including noted preservationists, designers, and floral stylists. In this volume, the pictures speak. And the South is, of course, well represented. Virtually tour Longue Vue in New Orleans with its lazily arching live oaks and Montrose in North Carolina, where a sorghum pot sits surrounded by yellow poppies.
For the backyard gardener-who’s-outgrown-her-backyard
by Evelyn J. Hadden
There’s a special word reserved for that bit of hard-to-garden land between the sidewalk and the curb: hellstrip. It’s tough to garden for many reasons—trampling footsteps, road traffic, and unclear zoning regulations. And Southern gardeners face even more challenges like scorching heat and dry spells that call for drought-tolerant plants. While planning a winter garden or a spring overhaul, the images and advice in this book from speaker, writer, and natural-lawn advocate Evelyn Hadden will help you through the toughest planting challenges, whether you’re planting an actual hellstrip or your yard just seems like one.
For the plant geek
The Big, Bad Book of Botany
by Michael Largo
Wonderfully weird, this collection of the plant kingdom’s most intriguing oddities takes an encyclopedic approach to everything from wormwood-sourced absinthe to the Venus Flytrap, that famous carnivorous native of the Carolinas. Florida resident, poet, and author Michael Largo, who has written a similar title on animal folklore, does an excellent job of showing both the historical background and present-day uses of herbs, mushrooms, vegetables, weeds, and grains. He drops bizarre tidbits into each description—who knew scientists have tracked plant “emotions” while giving them polygraph tests?
For the hobbyist horticulture historian
Seven Flowers And How They Shaped Our World
by Jennifer Potter
The bright and bold sunflower originated here as a wildflower some 50 million years ago, and made its way from what became the American South to Europe after Spanish explorers returned with the seeds. For centuries it has stirred artists and writers enamored with its devotion to the sun—Vincent van Gogh famously painted the sunflower as a symbol of hope. It’s just one of seven flowers profiled in-depth by horticultural historian Jennifer Potter in this fascinating read.
For the local explorer
Forager: A Subjective Guide to Miami’s Edible Plants
by Tiffany Noé, George Echevarria, and Nick Vagnoni
Collecting fruit from your own neighborhood is way more fun than handing over three bucks for an imported avocado. That’s the thought behind this beautifully simple, straightforward guide to foraging in Miami. Three friends with backgrounds in permaculture, design, photography, writing, and nonprofit work created the book from their experiences foraging for avocado, pigeon peas, sea grapes, and hearts of palm in South Florida. Not a resident of the Sunshine State? No worries. The 39 plants featured here also can be found in many other Southern locales, and the book’s emphasis on getting to know your neighbors and sharing food applies wherever you live. One plant we want to try? Cranberry hibiscus, which grows across the South, sprouts easily indoors from cuttings, and can be eaten raw in salads or boiled into tea.
For the garden-party-thrower
Cultivating Garden Style
by Rochelle Greayer
Want to cultivate a “rustic romance” look or more of a “creative craftsman” feel in your backyard? Garden blogger, design guru, and columnist Rochelle Greayer’s book is bursting with ideas like how to layer plants for visual texture and how to use found objects in your garden. Greayer encourages readers to link what inspires them in nature, art, and their lifestyles to their own unique garden taste. Then she fills in the details—hundreds of details on everything from lighting to seating and pottery to outdoor ovens. Laid out like magazine spreads, the pages will be a creative resource for someone serious about making their open-air spaces as beautiful as their home.