The best gardening books of the year

December 16th, 2018 Posted In: Garden style & living, Shop

Treat yourself to one of the best gardening books of the year. Or any one of them would make a wonderful gift.

If you’re asking the question ‘why do we need gardening books now that we have the internet?’ then my reply is that – broadly speaking – the internet is for information and books are for inspiration.

Does that seem fair? If you turn to the internet, it’s usually to answer a very specific question (unless, of course, you are suscribing to a regular blog like this). You find your answer. You leave.

The best gardening books of 2018

I can recommend these books, either to read yourself or to give as presents.

When you keep a book by your bed or sofa, you can pick it up and read it at any time. You obviously bought it (or were given it) for a reason, but you are likely to come across ideas and tips that you might not even have considered asking about.

So if you’re thinking of buying a book as a present or as a treat for yourself, here are my recommendations.

Links to Amazon are affiliate, which means I may get small fee if you buy, but it doesn’t affect the price you pay. It helps to support this blog, so if you do buy, thank you!

The best gardening books – new trends

Books used to be divided into ‘practical’ and ‘beautiful’ (usually coffee-table type books). Now many of the most stunningly visual books also have a strong practical aspect.

For example, Naomi Slade’s Dahlias is a glorious visual celebration of these newly fashionable flowers. But it also teaches you about how to choose and care for dahlias. As a long-time dahlia lover, I both enjoyed this book and learned from it.

And Cedric Pollet’s Winter Gardens, which won Book of the Year in the Garden Media Guild awards, lives up to its claim of ‘re-inventing the season.’ Books and articles about winter gardens have traditionally majored on frost-rimmed topiary and statues. This book is all about the plants that glow, shine, shimmer and tremble in the winter sun. It’s about bark, stems and grasses, heathers, evergreens and seedheads, and how they work together. There’s a super-useful listing at the back to help you choose plants for winter interest.

Another new direction is the gardening book as a tour of gardens you would not otherwise see. Secret Gardens of East Anglia, by Barbara Segall with photographs by Marcus Harpur is a good example.

A friend of mine kept her copy of Secret Gardens of East Anglia on a bedside table in her guest room, so that people could enjoy leafing through its glorious gardens and well-written descriptions. Imagine her consternation when one guest turned up with another copy as a present. She had to race upstairs ahead of the guest, whip the book away from the bedside table and edge out of the room with it hidden behind her back. It’s coffee-table size so not easy to conceal.

It is, however, a perfect present for anyone who loves gardens and has any connection with East Anglia.

And practical gardening books look more stylish

Practical gardening books have upped their game, too. Printed on high quality paper, with good design and photography, today’s practical manuals are like the best cookery books – contemporary in style but rugged enough to withstand life being thrown at their pages. The RHS’s How to Garden When You’re New to Gardening could sit happily on an Instagrammer’s image-conscious book shelf.

And the RHS’s new edition Pests & Diseases – plant-by-plant advice manages to make snails, aphids and rust spots look quite glamorous on the cover. Inside, you will be relieved to know, it is tightly packed with information, practical tips and clear photos so that you can identify your gardening problems and deal with them.

Here is my full listing of books I’ve loved this year. If you’d like to recommend a ‘best gardening book of the year’ please do so in the comments below – I’d love to hear which gardening books you’ve found useful:

The Middlesized Garden blog is taking a break for Christmas and will be back in the New Year. Happy Christmas and see you in 2019!

The Middlesized Garden is a participant in the Amazon Associates LLC, an affiliate advertising programme designed to provide a means for sites to earn advertising fees by advertising and linking to

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