Best books for gardeners

Joanne Finney
·5-min read
Photo credit: Good Housekeeping
Photo credit: Good Housekeeping

From Good Housekeeping

From complete newcomers with their first outdoor space to look after to those with an established plot, you'll find inspiration in these beautiful gardening books.

For beginners, we've picked books that assume no previous knowledge and will help you prepare the soil before you begin and plan what flowers, trees and bushes to plant where. For more experienced gardeners, there are books full of beautiful images of gardens to inspire you to try new schemes and plants.

If you're wanting to grow your own fruit and veg, there are practical guides that take you through the process, from sowing to harvesting. Don't have any outside space? You can still fill your home with greenery and colour. Find all the advice you need in the indoor plant guides we've included.

Rhapsody In Green by Charlotte Mendelson

Photo credit: Kyle Books
Photo credit: Kyle Books

The author only had six square metres of garden space when she moved into her new home but she turned it into a paradise of quinces, herbs, Japanese greens and ancient British apple trees. In this beautifully written guide she shares the trials and triumphs of her gardening adventures.

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The Flower Yard by Arthur Parkinson

Photo credit: Kyle Books
Photo credit: Kyle Books

Fans of BBC Two's Gardener's World will recognise Parkinson who often appears on the programme with his brood of chickens. He's known for this flamboyant style of planting - all in containers and pots - and this gorgeous, colourful book he explains how to recreate the same effect in your own space. A good read for anyone with a small garden or balcony.

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Green Shades by Elizabeth Jane Howard

Photo credit: Macmillan
Photo credit: Macmillan

Fans of Howard's wonderful Cazalet Chronicle series of novels will be delighted to hear that she was also a keen gardener and often wrote about the subject. This beautiful collection brings together some of her favourite garden writing from across the centuries, include Vita Sackville West and Joseph Addison, along with commentary from Howard. This would make a lovely gift for a garden lover.

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In the Garden: Essays on nature and growing

Photo credit: Daunt Books
Photo credit: Daunt Books

In this collection of essays, 14 writers including Nigel Slater, Kerri ní Dochartaigh, Elizabeth-Jane Burnett and Penelope Lively explore not just what gardening is in a practical sense but also what it means to us: a shared language, an opportunity for connection, and a practice that is always evolving.

Sweetpeas for Summer by Laetitia Maklouf

Photo credit: Bloomsbury
Photo credit: Bloomsbury

This gardening book is not only gorgeous to look at, it tells you everything you need to know to build a garden from scratch in a year. Woven in is the author's own story of planning, planting and maintaining her own first garden. This practical tome is ideal for beginners and includes a ten step guide to getting a garden you'll love.

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Brilliant & Wild by Lucy Bellamy

Photo credit: Primpernel Press
Photo credit: Primpernel Press

Want to encourage more wildlife into your back garden? This beautiful book is full of planting schemes that are perfect habitats for bees and butterflies. Again, this book is good for inexperienced gardeners as it suggests which plants go well together and how to create a low-maintenance garden.

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Gardening Through The Year by Ian Spence

Photo credit: RHS
Photo credit: RHS

Every gardener needs this encyclopaedic guide to gardening from the Royal Horticultural Society. It tells you month by month what to do when in your garden, and show you exactly how to do it, with handy to-do lists, as well as 'last chance' reminders and ways to get ahead. There's also a photographic A-Z guide of nearly 350 plants with detailed information on growing habit and care.

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Sissinghurst by Vita Sackville West and Sarah Raven

Photo credit: Abacus
Photo credit: Abacus

The writer Vita Sackville West created her awe-inspiring white garden at Sissinghurst in the 1940s and it still flourishes today, with thousands of visitors touring it every year. The book draws of Sackville's West notes and articles, with additions from gardening expert Sarah Raven, who is married to Sackville West's grandson.

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We Made A Garden by Margaret Fish

Photo credit: Batsford
Photo credit: Batsford

This gardening memoir might be slim but it's invaluable inspiration. Margery Fish and her husband, a London newspaper editor, bought a dilapidated cottage and gardens in Somerset in 1937. This is her very readable, blow-by-blow account of creating a country garden from scratch, and the battle of gardening alongside a husband with very different garden goals.

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Veg In One Bed by Huw Richards

Photo credit: DK
Photo credit: DK

Love the idea of growing your own veg but don't have much space? In just one raised bed, Huw Richards shows you how to plant so you have something to harvest every month of the year. From growing from seed, planting, feeding, and harvesting, everything is explained in clear, photographed steps.

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New Wild Garden by Ian Hodgson

Photo credit: Frances Lincoln
Photo credit: Frances Lincoln

Create a beautiful wild meadow-style flurry of colour that will attract insects, whatever the size of your plot. There are 15 step-by-step projects to give you ideas, an essential plant list and an overview of the most influential movement in garden design over recent decades.

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Leaf Supply by Lauren Camilleri and Sophia Kaplan

Photo credit: Smith Street Books
Photo credit: Smith Street Books

No outdoor space? That doesn't mean you can't fill your home with plants. Leaf Supply provides comprehensive (but easy to follow) care instructions for 100 houseplants - including tropical plants, palms, hanging plants, succulents and cacti.

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Photo credit: Hearst Owned
Photo credit: Hearst Owned

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