Whether you’re looking for inspiration to fuel gardening day dreams, or want practical advice for the vegetable plot, there’s a 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.
You’ll find books to help you grow cut flowers, vegetables, herbs and exotic edibles. There are good reads and gorgeous photos. You can even discover how gardening benefits our mind. Read on and unleash your inner bookworm.
10 of the best gardening books
Here are our personal favourites, as chosen by the BBC Gardeners’ World Magazine team.
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.
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 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.
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.”
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 Acting 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 Features Editor Cat Mansley.
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.