16 Magical Gardening Books And Novels To Gift Every Type Of Gardener In Your Life

From the totally silly to the downright romantic, words about gardens are elevated in these volumes.

October 20, 2017
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best gardening books
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For a long time, I didn't garden at all. I owned a solitary plant, a Christmas cactus a friend had given me, which I carried around for years, watching it bloom (or not bloom), get scratched up by my brother's cat, dry out, and then blossom again. It's graced the surface of five different coffee tables over the years, and it still sits next to me as I write. 

I'm grateful for that first plant gift, and now, as years have gone by, and friends have introduced me to the wonders of cultivating a windowsill of succulents, or cooking purple carrots or broccoli that I've actually grown myself, I have a new reverence for the independent, staying power of greenery. 

I think it's fascinating how compost can make new, rich soil out of trash, and how a spider plant will yield more spider plants just by virtue of me keeping an eye on it and watering it occasionally. I treasured the tiny, plump cherry tomatoes and mini bell peppers that popped up out of the potted plant garden I created on my tiny back porch in Philadelphia. (Here are more urban gardening ideas.) 

The riddle to all of this love of gardening, I think, is that there is something magical about watching things grow—watching food grow, even more so—and of having a literal hand in creating and encouraging that growth.

(Brag your love of gardening with the Organic Life 2018 Wall Calendar, featuring gorgeous photographs, cooking tips and recipes, plus how to eat more—and waste less—of what's in season.)

To that end, it's no surprise to me that volumes upon volumes have been written on the wonder of gardening, of flowers, of greenery, of moss, even. To understand gardening is to slow down and understand nature, which is connected to how we understand life. 

Below, there are books about gardening that are beautiful and reverent, some that are absolutely absurd (I'm looking at you, killer garden gnomes), and some that are breathtaking and inspire literary wonder (like the flora of the Tolkien books, or the botany of Shakespeare.) These books should help to remind your gardening loved ones of the timelessness of caring for greenery, and why they love gardening in the first place—a thoughtful gift for which they'll be more than grateful. 

Related: 21 Best Gifts For People Who Love To Garden

Versailles gardening book
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Best Gardening Book For People With High Expectations

The Gardener of Versailles: My Life in the World's Grandest Garden
By Alain Baraton

Gardens don't really get more trimmed and polished than France's legendary Garden of Versailles, and inside this coffee table book you can learn what goes on behind the scenes of one of the most famous high-end gardens in the world, from the gardener himself. 

Buy now: $19, Amazon.com

Liz Gilbert gardening book
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Best Gardening Book For Historical Fiction Lovers

The Signature Of All Things 

By Elizabeth Gilbert 

 

This globe- and century-spanning novel follows the adventures of rogue shipfaring botanists, as well as the ambition, desires, and cultural constraints of a determined 17th century female botanist from an aristocratic family in Philadelphia as she struggles to understand the root of existence through studying moss. 

 

Buy now: $13, Amazon.com

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We hope you enjoy the products we're recommending as much as we do! Just so you know, Organic Life may get a share of sales from the links on this page.
 
Secret Garden gardening book
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Best Gardening Book About Solving A Mystery

The Secret Garden
By Francis Hodgson Burnett

This classic childhood tale of a hidden garden discovered by young Mary Lennox at her uncle's mysterious Misselthwaite Manor is a perfect hardcover addition to any gardener’s bookshelf, and one you may want to read to your kids. 

Buy now: $9, Amazon.com

Little Prince gardening book
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Best Gardening Book For The Young Or Young At Heart

The Little Prince
By Antoine de Saint-Exupéry

Every gardener needs a copy of this childhood short story of a little prince from another world as he falls in love with a wild rose, and learns about care-taking, growth, and loss. 

Buy now: $16, Amazon.com

Power of a plant gardening book
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Best Gardening Book For A Teacher

The Power Of A Plant
by Stephen Ritz

Who knew an in-school garden could completely revitalize a struggling education system in the Bronx? Self-proclaimed CEO (Chief Eternal Optimist) Stephen Ritz did. Remind the teacher in your life how vital his or her work is—and how powerful a simple idea, and a simple plant, can be, with this book. 

Buy now: $20, Amazon.com

 
 
Flora Middle Earth gardening book
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Best Gardening Book For A Lord Of The Rings Fan

Flora Of Middle Earth: Plants of J.R.R. Tolkien's Legendarium
By Walter S. Judd and Graham A. Judd

This guide, written by a botanist, examines the 160 plants described as a part of Middle-Earth, and unpacks the way the magic of the natural world plays a major role in The Hobbit and The Lord Of The Rings trilogy.

Buy now$26, Amazon.com

the martian gardening book
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Best Gardening Book For A Sci-Fi Nerd

The Martian 
By Andy Weir

Growing potatoes...on MARS! A fictional survival story set on the red planet sheds some light on organic potato gardening techniques, and has an accompanying movie featuring Matt Damon to boot. 

Buy now: $15, Amazon.com

Related: How To Grow Organic Potatoes On Mars

The Tree gardening book
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Best Gardening Book For Someone Who Loves The Wilderness

The Tree
By John Fowles

In this slim volume, which is part memoir, part essay, John Fowles recalls his father’s prized, meticulously pruned garden of fruit trees, and rejects that controlled and sculpted space in favor of the delights of the untamed wild. It’s a lyrical must-read for anyone who believes in humans’ unassailable connection to the natural world.

Buy now: $12, Amazon.com 

 
 
Hidden Lives Of Trees gardening book
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Best Gardening Book For The Scientifically Inquisitive

The Hidden Life of Trees: What They Feel, How They Communicate―Discoveries from a Secret World
By Peter Wohlleben

This intriguing tale reveals how trees and other plant life forms actually communicate with one another. It's the first of a three-part series investigating the wonders of nature by New York Times bestselling author Peter Wohlleben.

Buy now: $17, Amazon.com

Our Life In Gardens gardening book
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Best Gardening Book For The Memoir Reader

Our Life In Gardens 
By Joe Eck and Wayne Winterrowd

Eck and Winterrowd, founders of the Vermont garden design firm North Hill, share the history of their Vermont garden, writing about the plants they have lived with, nurtured, and nourished as if the story of their garden is a family memoir. 

Buy now: $16, Amazon.com

second nature gardening book
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Best Gardening Book For The Environmentalist

Second Nature: A Gardener's Education
By Michael Pollan

In this book, environmental and food writer Michael Pollan explores our relationship with nature and muses on natural topics such as the Great American Lawn, one man’s war with a woodchuck, and roses.

Buy now: $15, Amazon.com

 
 
Gardener's year gardening book
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Best Gardening Book For A Literary Type

The Gardener's Year
By Karel Čapek

The New Yorker calls this one "a gardening book for people who hate gardening books." Čapek explores the triumphs and trials of life as an ordinary gardener in his volume, The Gardener’s Year. It's offbeat and charming, and is filled with whimsical illustrations from the author’s brother.

Buy now: $15, Amazon.com

garden gnome attack gardening book
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Best Gardening Book For Someone With A Sense Of Humor

How to Survive a Garden Gnome Attack: Defend Yourself When the Lawn Warriors Strike (And They Will)
By Chuck Sambuchino

Do you have a friend who's just slightly suspicious of those beady-eyed garden gnomes? Billed as "the only comprehensive survival guide that will help you prevent, prepare for, and ward off an imminent home invasion by the common garden gnome." We don't know if we fully expect there to be a garden gnome apocalypse, but it's probably better to be ready. 

Buy now: $12, Amazon.com

botanical shakespeare gardening book
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Best Gardening Book For The Theater Goer

Botanical Shakespeare: An Illustrated Compendium of All the Flowers, Fruits, Herbs, Trees, Seeds, and Grasses Cited by the World's Greatest Playwright
By Gerit Quealy

A one-of-a-kind color compendium of the flowers, fruits, herbs, trees, seeds, and grasses cited in the works William Shakespeare—plus all of the quotes citing these plants from all of his plays and poems. It's worth buying for the foreword alone: from Dame Helen Mirren herself. 

Buy now: $16, Amazon.com 

 

 
 
winnie the pooh gardening book
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Best Gardening Book For The One Who Can't Get Enough Winnie The Pooh

The Natural World of Winnie-the-Pooh: A Walk Through the Forest that Inspired the Hundred Acre Wood
By Kathryn Aalto

Do you know someone who loves Tigger, Piglet, and the like? The Hundred Acre Wood—the setting for Winnie-the-Pooh’s adventures—was inspired by a real place: Ashdown Forest, a wildlife haven that spans more than 6,000 acres in southeast England. In the pages of this enchanting book you can visit the ancient black walnut tree on the edge of the forest that became Pooh’s house and learn about what inspired the text.

Buy now: $14, Amazon.com

brother gardeners gardening book
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The Best Gardening Book For A History Buff

The Brother Gardeners: A Generation of Gentlemen Naturalists and the Birth of an Obsession
By Andrea Wulf

Bringing to life the science and adventure of eighteenth-century plant collecting, The Brother Gardeners is the story of how six men created the modern garden and changed the horticultural world, including the story of two botanist explorers who traveled the world on Captain Cook’s Endeavor. 

Buy it: $14, Amazon.com