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.