Garden books: Some select choices for giving or receiving

By Lynette L. Walther | Dec 14, 2012

Wrong size, wrong color, wrong style, wrong shape…or any other wrong you can imagine…it’s what’s wrong with shopping for holiday gifts. If the “wrongs” have got you wringing your hands and gnashing your teeth, relax. For any gardener on your list, and just in time for last-minute shopping, here are a handful of unique and simply-delightful holiday books choices (including one for the youngest gardeners on your list and a tasty mystery) that will be sure to please any recipient.

Handmade Garden Projects

By Lorene Edwards Forkner

Timber Press: Portland/London

Paper, 223 Pages, $19.95

“Handmade Garden Projects” is one of those books that puts a smile on your face, page after page. Smiles of whimsy, smiles of inspiration, smiles of insight and appreciation, smiles of pleasure at the innovative uses of all manner of everyday objects in the garden. With step-by-step instructions for a host of creative garden features, containers, lighting and more, any gardener is bound to find a project they’ll love and can recreate to transform their garden in the process.

There is much to discover in this guide, from fanciful pavers to plant supports with panache to pretty planters to more, this colorful book guides you through the process of creating a small fortune in garden accents on a shoe-string budget. And I’d bet that is just the start of the creativity, because this book is bound to get anyone looking at all manner of things in a different light. Eco-friendly and craftily-creative, “Handmade Garden Projects” is jam-packed with colorful photos, great advice and good guidance, making it a must-have. Better buy two, one to keep for yourself!

Keeping Bees in Towns & Cities

By Luke Dixon

Timber Press: Portland/London

Paper, 183 Pages, $19.95

“Man and honey bees have always lived in close proximity,” says Luke DIxon in the introduction to “Keeping Bees in Towns & Cities.” He goes on to say that until recently the concept of city bee keeping has been secretive at best, prohibited at its worst like in “…New York City the keeping of bees was forbidden until the spring of 2010 when public anxiety at the plight of the honey bee saw the anti-bee statutes revoked, though guerrilla beekeepers had been quietly tending hives in the city for decades before.”

No matter whether it's a big city or a small town or the outskirts of either, getting started in beekeeping is thoroughly examined in this innovative easy-to-understand and useful book. From bee boxes to procuring bees and maintaining healthy colonies to harvesting the honey, it is all covered here in accessible and practical text and a wealth of accompanying images. You’ll also learn about how to reassure your bee-nervous neighbors and meet urban beekeepers from around the globe too. How sweet is that?

The Book of Gardening Projects for Kids

By Whitney Cohen and John Fisher

Timber Press: Portland/London

Paper, 264 Pages, $19.95

Lucky you! If you have the opportunity to introduce the magic of gardening to a young person, you will be someone they remember — forever. And what better way to start out than with the delightful “The Book of Gardening Projects for Kids.” With “101 ways to get kids outside, dirty and having fun,” this joyful book provides inspiration and instruction on doing just that.

“Raising kids and maintaining a garden can be a juggling act and, at times, a family’s garden may be forgotten or neglected. In this book we hope to make it easier for you to merge the garden into your family life, to engage your children in various aspects of your outdoor spaces, and to manage your family garden, no matter its scope or scale,” say the authors of “The Book of Gardening Projects for Kids”

From creating kid-friendly gardens, to games to learning to cooking and creating, “The Book of Gardening Projects for Kids” is destined to become a favorite starting point for garden adventures with more than 100 ways to entertain and instruct — and garden — for memories to last a lifetime.

Free Range Chicken Gardens

By Jessi Bloom with Photos by Kate Baldwin

Timber Press: Portland/London

Paper, 218 Page, $19.95

Chickens — one of the “hottest” garden components these days — take more than a bit of consideration and planning for the venture to be a successful one. Not just an excellent starting point, “Free Range Chicken Gardens” takes us through every aspect of raising chickens in the home garden.

“More and more chickens are becoming part of our gardens, providing us with fresh eggs, but their strengths as garden helpers are often overlooked,” says author Jessi Bloom as she eases us into the concept of easing those big birds into our gardens. This well-thought-out and thoroughly comprehensive new book covers the topic so efficiently and completely that it is bound to become the gardener’s go-to reference when chickens are the focus. From the practical considerations, to chicken-suitable landscapes and plants, hardscapes, hen housing and chicken health and happiness issues — it’s all in this book that is bound to have anyone considering chickens crowing with delight.

The Darling Dahlias and the Confederate Rose

By Susan Whitg Albert

Berkley Prime Crime

Hardcover, 304 Pages, $24.95

Just in time for a delicious mystery and cozy winter read is a new installation in Susan Witig Albert’s Darling Dahlias Mystery series “The Darling Dahlias and the Confederate Rose.” Nostalgia, mixed with more than a bit of nasty deeds, and always with plenty of gardening mixed in to boot, add up to a plot that vexes those intrepid Darling Dahlia garden members in this third mystery in the series.

Darling, Alabama in the 1930s is the setting. And just as the Darling Dahlias are caught up in preparing for their role in the town’s Confederate Day Celebration (planting a row of Confederate roses at the town cemetery), up pops an embezzlement scandal that ensnares club member Verna Tidwell, and eventually involves all the members before the culprit is brought to justice and the dust settles. But there’s more, and the name of the book serves as a double entendre clue to yet another knotty issue the Dahlias set out to untangle. Hard times effuse the tale, along with a homey banquet of southern-style Depression-Era dishes (and their recipes) that turn this story into one toothsome mystery.

Lynette L. Walther is the recipient of the Garden Writers Association’s Silver Award of Achievement for 2012, and she gardens in Camden. Got questions, or comments? Visit her blog, and join in the conversation at: or friend her on Facebook.

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