reviews of the best gardening books

Delia's Kitchen Garden

Delia Smith has always been most concerned with the quality and flavour of the ingredients she uses, and nothing comes fresher than fruit and vegetables from your own garden. Last year, the opportunity came for her to work with her longstanding friend, garden expert Gay Search, to create her own kitchen garden for the first time. This guide, written by Gay with 50 recipes from Delia, is for Delia and others like her who are interested in good food and want to try their hand at growing their own. It follows a year in the life of her kitchen garden, with a chapter devoted to each month, containing detailed advice on sowing and planting, fruit and vegetable varieties and how to harvest. With failsafe recipes by Delia that use the produce at its peak, this book is expected to do for kitchen gardening what How to Cook did for culinary teaching. Suitable for first-time horticulturists and cooks of all levels, the book is lavishly designed and has over 250 colour photographs.

The Complete Guide to Building Decks 

A source of tips, techniques and instructions on building decks. This second edition of the book opens with a revised portfolio section to help readers gain ideas, then moves to design and planning information. Next there are comprehensive sections on basic and deck building techniques, followed by a chapter that shows step-by-step procedures for building seven popular deck designs. As a bonus, the book includes a chapter on popular deck accessories, and also shows how to modify a deck design for a truly custom look. In addition to the basic deck-building methods covered, readers will also learn how to build multi-level decks, how to build stairways with landings, how to build curved decks, how to build decks with unusual angles, how to create overhead screens, and how to add electrical service and lighting fixtures to a deck.

20 Best Small Gardens

Now that space is demanding even more of a premium many people find themselves with a smaller plot of land than they would like, but there is no reason why this cannot be successful and appealing. 20 Best Small Gardens is a book devoted to making the best possible use of a limited area. As the title suggests, the book looks at every conceivable kind of small garden from Roof Garden to Courtyard and offers advice on how to make every inch count. Tim Newbury looks at each garden in turn addressing design, planting and features. For example the Sloping Garden that seems problematically long and narrow, so Newbury suggests that the garden be divided into three separate, equal areas. If you plan a patio by the house, a circular lawn, and fruit and vegetable plot at the bottom end of the garden, the space is used to maximum effect.

The Garden Planner 

This handbook reveals the secrets of professional garden design, and then makes them accessible to everyone, from the keen gardener to the complete beginner. The book contains designs for gardens of all shapes and sizes, providing practical solutions for varying sites, circumstances and needs. With colour plans and perspective realizations, Robin Williams gives readers the ability to see how the designs translate into three dimensions.  An excellent, highly useful and informative little book, now in soft back format , for the serious gardener. Everyone from lords of the manor to the owner of a new semi could benefit from this.


Best Shade Plants

Shade gardens or shady parts of gardens can be some of the nicest places to be, you can wander around them almost whatever the weather. The shade is a sanctuary from the dazzling brightness and heat of summer sun, they are enclosed and feel "safer" than being out on the sunny plains. Not many plants enjoy shade though (as opposed to tolerating it - becoming weak and leggy in the process), so this book answers a substantial need. Highly recommended, if you have any shady areas in your garden, you'll find lots of things in here that will do well.

The Ultimate Garden Designer

Easy to read and full of ideas. Covering: cottage gardens, kitchen gardens, gardens for entertaining, family gardens, gardens for the disabled, the plant enthusiasts' garden, water gardens, Japanese-style gardens, formal gardens, coastal gardens, wildlife gardens, woodland gardens, front gardens and roof gardens. Almost all aspects are covered: ideas for garden features, pools, streams and water features, rock gardens, pergolas and arches, summerhouses, gazebos etc, patios and paving, steps, slopes, walls, fences, trellises, screens, beds and borders, herb gardens pots and containers.

RHS Encyclopedia of Gardening

A comprehensive guide to most things that you could ever want to do in the garden. Stacks of information, usefully and plentifully illustrated. Well set out in logical sections. A wonderfully comprehensive reference guide for the beginner and expert alike. If you only buy one gardening book it has to be this one.

RHS New Encyclopaedia of Plants and Flowers A very useful descriptive guide to thousands of garden plants, lavishly illustrated. Set out into trees / shrubs / perennials etc. and sub-divided into colours and seasons of interest. An excellent buy for most people. A good book for the amateur enthusiast, and better value than buying several smaller volumes each on a different theme.
RHS A-Z garden plants

I don't really think that there is any alternative for the plant enthusiast than this mighty tome. It's the big brother of the RHS Encyclopaedia of Plants and Flowers below. It's certainly not for everyone as it's set out alphabetically according to the Latin names of plants and treats all plants equally, be they sold by the million or only obtainable with great difficulty as they're so hard to grow. If you are serious about gardening though, buy it now. In a few years time when you get it, you'll have spent more money on other books in the meantime that will then become redundant.

RHS through the year

As well as specific monthly tasks for every part of the garden, there are at-a-glance checklists, expert plant advice and tips on organization including "Get Ahead" and "Is it Too Late?" With more than 1000 full-colour photographs of star plants for each month, step-by-step photographic sequences of garden projects and illustrated tasks. To help you upgrade your garden or make maintenance easier, there is a DIY project suggestion for every month, each of which has been tried and tested to guarantee success. 

How to Be a Gardener Book

No safer pair of hands than those of Alan Titchmarsh could be imagined to coax the nervous would-be gardener into picking up a spade. The BBC evidently think so, as they have commissioned the two series and accompanying volumes of How To Be A Gardener, their most ambitious gardening project to date. The elevation of gardening in recent years from a genteel pastime to national mania, fuelled largely by television, seems to have engendered a large audience of virtual gardeners, keen to get their hands dirty but unsure of how to begin. Easy to read and excellent photographs. Written with his usual sense of humour more like a one to one chat than reading a book.

Plants for places, RHS

Want a grass for a hot dry area? A wall shrub for a North East facing position? Trees for chalk? This book will give you a variety of answers for almost all possible situations. 1000 pages of plant info crammed into a small pocket sized book. It's very handy for referring to when buying at the garden centre and is well worth the price. Plants are grouped together by where they should be planted which helps save you making any costly errors. Take this shopping with you and ignore the tags in the plant pots which are designed more to get you to buy the plant than give advice.

Principles of Horticulture

An excellent introduction to a wide range of aspects of commercial and leisure horticulture. Written in a highly accessible and readable style, this book has already proved invaluable to a broad selection of readers, particularly students on horticulture courses and keen amateur gardeners. It also provides a handy basic reference for professionals.

Water Garden Workbook

An superb choice if you are about to embark on making a water feature of some description in your garden for the first time. Instructions for a variety of features with materials needed, cost estimates and hints on construction and plants.