Essential Books for Everyone Who Is Going to Start Gardening


There's no denying it: gardeners are visual creatures. We love color, texture and design. So, the gift of a garden book this holiday is wonderful on many counts. Many of the best coffee table garden books are the gift of inspiration, providing countless ideas from renowned experts like Bunny Williams and Carolyne Roehm on how to design your garden and unique plants to distinguish it from the rest. Other books fill a practical need, offering up sage advice, tips on planting and other nitty-gritty info that gardeners will turn to again and again in the year ahead.

Garden Inspirations

Charlotte Moss' lavishly illustrated garden tome, Garden Inspirations, is just one example of this prolific designer's seductive imagination. This gorgeous book offers glimpses into not only Moss' grand, East Hampton garden, but images of the Italian, Russian, French and British gardens that inspire her. The celebrated designer, whose accomplishments include an Elle Decor Vision Award and is considered one of Traditional Home magazine's top 20 designers, has plenty of ideas on how to bring great style to your outdoor space.

On Garden Style

A grand dame of design and gardens, Bunny Williams has a gift for lush, WASP-y rooms that manage to balance cozy and grand, luxury and approachability; her style is spare, elegant and utterly beguiling. A huge influence on designers, Williams shares some of her garden inspiration in this coffee table tome. A must-read for garden lovers looking for eye-candy over the long, cold winter, Williams offers sage advice on how to use garden furniture and accessories to give your space a timeless look while offering peeks at the kind of epic gardens that look like scenes from a classic art house film. Williams' use of containers alone is diabolically genius, but there is also lots of insight into hardscaping and garden walls.

A Kid's Guide to Keeping Chickens

Longtime HGTVGardens contributor Melissa Caughey has written a charming book with lots of great advice for raising chickens when you have children involved in their care. The perfect pet to teach responsibility, chickens also give back in not just eggs but affection and entertainment. Need to know how to bathe a chicken? It's here. Want to show your prettiest chick at a livestock show? Find out how. From gathering eggs to feeding chickens, this is your go-to primer for all things fowl.

Color the Natural World

I'm a late arrival to the whole adult coloring phenomenon, but I have to say taking colored pencils and crayons to author Zoe Keller’s lovely, often surreal, illustrations of forests, foxes, bears and lizards is more relaxing than a glass of wine at the end of a long day. Come to think of it, pair this book with a bottle of Riesling and you might have a tool box for perfect happiness.

Norwegian Wood: Chopping, Stacking, and Drying Wood the Scandinavian Way

Looking for a gift for the manly homesteader or pioneer woman in your life? This illustrated guide to the Scandinavian art of cutting and stacking wood will provide lots of inspiration for the cold winter months ahead. A best-selling phenomenon in Britain, Norway and Sweden, Lars Mytting's enchanting book is about not only beautifully storing wood for the season, but also a philosophical rumination on humankind's relationship to trees, heat, work and nature.

Carolyne Roehm: At Home in the Garden

A high-society hostess and tastemaker, Carolyne Roehm knows her way around a garden, too. The gorgeous photos of Roehm's Connecticut home, Weatherstone, in this massive book make for great visuals. There are endless sumptuous arrangements in lovely color schemes, ideas for making an edible garden beautiful, shade garden inspiration and a real reverence for the wonder of the natural world exhibited by a quote from Frank Lloyd Wright that Roehm includes in her introduction: "Study nature, love nature, stay close to nature. It will never fail you."

The Natural World of Winnie-the-Pooh

Children and children's storybooks often have a real reverence for nature, trees, flowers and secret, woodsy surroundings. A.A. Milne's Winnie the Pooh, which will mark its 90th anniversary in 2016, is a book awash in that love of nature and its creatures. This adorable book shows the real 5,000-acre English Ashdown Forest that became the inspiration for Milne's Hundred Acre Wood when he moved there along with his only child, Christopher Robin, in order to give his son more time in nature.

The book, from landscape and garden historian Kathryn Aalto, will be utterly enchanting for fans of Winnie with its maps, letters and photographs of the real-life flora and fauna that inhabit this magical place. Readers can explore the actual locations that served as the inspiration for Poohsticks Bridge, the Floody Place, Eeyore's Gloomy Spot and the Six Pine Trees.

French Chic Living: Simple Ways to Make Your Home Beautiful

A "how to live" guide, French-style, this addictive, offbeat book is a mix of savvy design ideas and the kind of fussy advice that can recall 1950s tomes on how to care for silver, table linens and other helpful tips. Florence de Dampierre's insider-ish guidebook is probably a must-read for the Francophile on your list or for a new bride just setting up her first home.

Living Newport: Houses, People, Style

Interested in how the other half lives? This pictorial survey of the lifestyles of the chic and moneyed offers some great visuals of both interiors (including gorgeous yacht decor) and exteriors (including gazebos, follies and statuary). Residents of coastal settings will find these design ideas, many of which take the sea as their touchstone, especially useful.

Southern Rustic Cabin

A design goldmine for anyone looking for that perfect storm of rustic-retro-chic-cozy outdoor design, this survey of luxurious and humble Southern cabins, vacation homes and other rustic digs will be just the thing to satisfy design fans looking to capture that sweet spot of down-home luxury.

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