Whether you’re looking for inspiration or want practical advice for the vegetable plot, there’s a gardening book out there for you. But with so many books to choose from, how do you find the right one?
To give you a nudge in the right direction, the BBC Gardeners’ World Magazine and GardenersWorld.com teams have recommended their favourite gardening books. Below, you’ll find books to help you grow cut flowers, vegetables, herbs and exotic edibles. There’s advice for beginners and experienced gardeners alike, thoughtful reflections on gardening, and a few coffee table books we think would make fantastic gardening gifts.
15 of the best gardening books
Browse our pick of the best gardening books below:
The Gardeners’ World Almanac: A month-by-month guide to your gardening year
Organised by month, this book is an indispensable guide. It includes lists, monthly reminders, recipes, step-by-step guides, expert instruction for year round gardening as well as essential advice on what to plant when, all contributed by Gardeners’ World favourites like Monty Don, Carol Klein, and Adam Frost.
Subscribe to BBC Gardeners’ World Magazine and receive a free copy of The Gardeners’ World Almanac. You’ll pay just £24.50 every 6 issues, saving 29% on the usual shop price and have monthly issues delivered directly to your door.
Grow Your Own Vegetables by Joy Larkom
This classic vegetable growing guide covers more than 100 vegetables and all aspects of growing them, from preparing the soil to pests and diseases. This updated and expanded edition of the illustrated handbook contains everything you need to know for a successful veg plot.
“Brilliant for everyone who loves growing their own food, whether for the first time or the hundredth, it’s full of practical information,” says Reviews Editor, Kay Maguire.
The Garden Book, Revised and Updated Edition
This coffee-table book from Phaidon is great for inspiring the gardeners in your life. An A-Z look at 500 different gardens, it includes full colour images of the creations of Capability Brown, Antoni Gaudí, Gertrude Jekyll, and many more.
A Pocketful of Herbs: An A-Z by Jekka McVicar
Dubbed the Queen of Herbs, Jekka McVicar is the undisputed authority on herbs. Winner of 62 RHS medals for her herb displays at flower shows, her herb farm stocks more than 400 different varieties. In short, there’s nothing Jekka doesn’t know about herbs. In this compact book, Jekka uses her years of experience to provide practical growing advice for a huge range of herbs, as well as ways to use herbs in cooking and explaining the medicinal qualities of many of the plants.
“This is the perfect companion to have when out and about in the garden. It not only explains the conditions each plant needs to be grown well, but also recommends how you can use herbs for food and wellbeing. Keys throughout make the book a quick and easy reference guide” says Editorial and Content Assistant, Miranda Janatka.
The Forager’s Calendar, by John Wright
Both foodies and growers will love this guide from River Cottage’s forager, John Wright, who shows how to find delicious – and free – treats to eat beyond the vegetable patch. From the best berries, mushrooms, and even tree saps, it’s packed with year-round inspiration.
New Vegetable Garden Techniques: Essential skills and projects for tastier, healthier crops by Joyce Russell
This title promises to provide practical information and tips for gardeners in any situation, from small back yards to expansive allotments. Chosen by Picture Editor Sarah Edwards, she recommends this book for both gardening beginners and those looking to boost their skills and knowledge.
“This is a brilliant, practical guide to growing veg organically, from seed sowing right through to storing and preserving,” she says. “The projects are really helpful and I loved the comfrey fertilizer press and the step by steps showing you how to string onions and garlic.”
A Garden Eden – Masterpieces of Botanical Illustration by H. Walter Lack
Written by a professor of the history of biology, this coffee-table book from Taschen features hundreds of botanical illustrations from across the centuries and continents. In English, French, and German, this trilingual book makes an artful gift for gardeners.
The Dry Garden by Beth Chatto
The renowned plantswoman revolutionised our thinking on how to choose and grow plants, with her mantra of ‘Right plant, right place.’ Here she wrote about drought-tolerant plants, and how to work with the natural conditions of your garden to ensure they thrive.
“I live in a really dry corner of Essex – in fact, not far from Beth Chatto’s famous Dry Garden – and this book has been invaluable in understanding my garden and the plants that will thrive in it,” says Deputy Editor Kevin Smith. “It’s beautifully written too, making it both enjoyable and useful. I wouldn’t be without it.”
RHS How Do Worms Work: A Gardener’s Collection of Curious Questions and Astonishing Answers by Guy Barter
Written by the head of the Royal Horticultural Society’s Advisory Service, this book answers all your curious questions as well as providing practical gardening advice.
“A beautifully written Question and Answer-style book that resolves many common gardening conundrums in a very easy-to-read way,” says Gardening Editor Emma Crawforth.
Dream Plants for the Natural Garden by Piet Oudolf and Henk Gerritsen
This beautiful book is packed full of photos, and written by two highly influential garden designers – Piet Oudolf and Henk Gerritsen. In it they describe 1,200 perennials, bulbs, grasses and shrubs that typify their signature natural gardening style. They explain how to use the plants in a garden, and how to grow and care for them – all without chemicals.
“I bought this book immediately after visiting the High Line garden in New York and it’s always a pleasure to open it up and get lost once again in Piet Oudolf’s effortless planting schemes. Both authors write with real passion about their love for prairie plants and it’s a never ending source of inspiration.” says Features Editor Adam Duxbury.
Losing Eden: Why Our Minds Need the Wild by Lucy Jones
In Losing Eden, journalist Lucy Jones explores the human biology, neuroscience and psychology behind our connection with the Earth on a geographical journey, from forest schools in London to primeval woodlands in Poland. This title was chosen by Wildlife Editor, Kate Bradbury.
“Lucy meticulously explores the role nature plays in our lives, and explains how we need nature and gardening, and how it aids out mental health,” says Kate. “This is an important book for our times, and one I know I’ll keep referring back to, in years to come.”
The Well-Gardened Mind: Rediscovering Nature in the Modern World by Sue Stuart-Smith
This book explores the benefits of gardening for our mental health and wellbeing. Psychiatrist and psychotherapist Sue Stuart-Smith explores case-studies ranging from prisoners to the elderly, vulnerable young people and war veterans – including her own grandfather following his return from World War II.
This book offers practical tips for the garden and the mind. Chosen by Editor Lucy Hall.
The Cut Flower Patch: Grow your own cut flowers all year round by Louise Curley
This practical book explains how to grow more than 100 plants so you can produce beautiful cut flowers from your own garden and create stylish floral displays. It cover seeds, bulbs, perennials and shrubs to give you flowers for cutting from early spring until late autumn.
“If you’ve ever wanted to have a go at growing cut flowers, but worried that it would be too difficult or that you didn’t have enough space, this book is for you. Inspiring and full of easy-to-follow practical advice, it makes growing cut flowers feel achievable in any garden. And the gorgeous photos are a treat to flick through on dull days,” says GardenersWorld.com Deputy Editor Cat Mansley.
RHS How to Garden the Low-Carbon Way: The Steps You Can Take to Help Combat Climate Change, by Sally Nex
Essential reading for the eco-warriors, the RHS latest offering is a helpful, step-by-step guide to gardening sustainably. Recognising it can be tricky to create a low-carbon garden, this book is filled with practical advice and tips to get started.
Modern Nature: The Journals of Derek Jarman
Not a ‘gardening book’ in the conventional sense, Modern Nature is an extraordinary snapshot of Derek Jarman’s life in the late 1980s and early 1990s. The diary captures the sheer breadth of Jarman’s activity – film-making, painting, writing and gardening – as he shuttles back and forth between a small flat on the Charing Cross Road and Prospect Cottage, his home at Dungeness.
“Gossipy details of day-to-day life alternate with harrowing accounts of hospital visits (Jarman was diagnosed as HIV positive in 1986) and vivid descriptions of his battle to raise plants on the exposed shingle of the Kent coast. He was a wonderful diarist and this is an inspiring account of a productive life, well lived” says GardenersWorld.com editor, Daniel Haynes.