▷ The Top 100 Gardening Books of All Time (Give or Take 97)
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The Top 100 Gardening Books of All Time (Give or Take 97)

Written by Alan Ray and updated on January 12, 2018
Reading a book by the garden

If you already know what type flower that is, which trees grow best in your area of the country or which flora should be used to curb erosion as well as the best time to cut back your roses or how to design a garden, then you don't need a gardening book.

In fact, you could probably write one.  

In the event however, that you don't know everything there is to know about gardening, Organic Daily Post has gone retro to bring you reviews of our 3 favorite, fully comprehensive vintage gardening books of all time to help you become a garden maven.

An apparent gardener whose name is now lost to the ages stated, “Gardening is cheaper than therapy and you get tomatoes.” How right that funny little line is. Working in the garden can be rewarding on so many levels. Digging in the earth can be very therapeutic mentally, spiritually and physically.

Physically, working outdoors and getting lots of vitamin D-packed sunshine while breaking a little sweat is really good for the body. Gardening can be a nice mental vacation as well from the crazy world we all live in today.  

From a spiritual standpoint, nervous energy is quietly replaced with a sense of calm and peace when we begin to work with nature and the garden is the perfect prayer mat. Yes, a good day in the garden is worth its weight in Valium.

Let's get started.

The Greatest Gardening Books

These 20th century gardening companions are sure to enlighten, encourage and inspire you to create the garden of your dreams easier and more beautifully than you may have ever imagined. Admittedly, there are newer books on the market and most are very thorough and even plant-specific that you can buy but these books are special.

One thing is certain, knowledge never goes out of style and when you combine it with well thought out plans, an encyclopedia of plants along with beautiful designs, you get an indispensable book replete with hundreds of beautiful pictures and even some cool recipes.

So unless you are going totally plant specific in your garden, you really don't need any other books beyond the three you are about to discover as they cover practically all things gardening including landscaping. 

The Complete Garden Guide

The Complete Garden Guide is the first book on our list and lives up to its title. This all encompassing reference book contains enough information to plant a world let alone a garden. First published in 1999 by Time-Life Books, a more replete book on gardening would be hard to find.

While some newer indoor growing techniques may have evolved such as hydroponics, aeroponics and aquaponics since its publication, this book is for outdoor gardens and encompasses every aspect of gardening you would ever need to achieve whatever growing goals you may have set for yourself.

“'A Comprehensive Reference for all Your Garden Needs' reads the cover just below the title--and truer words were never written.”

Inside the Book 

You will find 14 chapters and nearly a thousand pages of highly informative, step-by-step instruction covering every aspect of gardening. This tome features avenues of gardening seldom included in traditional garden books. 

Chapter 1 opens with steps on how to design your garden with beautifully inspiring photographs and time-tested methods guaranteed to give your garden that pop it may have been missing in years gone by.   

With these step-by-step and easy to follow instructions, you'll quickly learn to grow an endless variety of flowers, shrubs and plants like a professional. Additionally, below are a few of the beautiful gardens you can create.

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    Flower gardens
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    Vegetable gardens
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    Herb gardens
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    Songbird gardens
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    Butterfly gardens...and more

Sub-categories include planning your garden, the principles of design and composing with color and how to put it all together. You'll not only learn about plants and vegetables but how to reap the best harvest, crop by crop storage techniques, saving seed for next year and much more.

There is so much interesting and valuable information contained in this book that we could write another book about what-all is inside. Suffice it to say, we haven't scratched the top soil of all the knowledge available within its pages. A great reference manual for any gardener regardless their experience level.

The Complete Garden Guide is one garden book you'll want to have on your shelf.

Next up, another classic.

As Good as Gold

Book number two on our vintage garden-book list is titled Treasury of Gardening.  Within the pages of this lovely, golden-edged volume lies a world of invaluable planting and gardening information. This book brings to your fingertips a plethora of professional advice, direction and instruction with insight, knowledge and tips covering every aspect of horticulture--complete with gardening and landscaping plans.  

As the cover announces, you'll learn all about Annuals, Perennials (and the difference), Vegetables, and Herbs as well as how to design Specialty Gardens. In addition to a world of how-to garden knowledge, is an Encyclopedia of Vegetables & Herbs.

The many varieties of vegetables and herbs were hand picked for their tried and true track record of performing best in the garden while producing a bountiful harvest. In addition, you will learn to determine planting dates, watering techniques, soil preferences along with harvesting tips and more.

Replete with full color photographs, this treasure trove makes it easy for you to decide what you'd like to plant before you ever turn a spade. Fresh and exciting ideas along with how-to-do-it-right knowledge join forces to make this classic one of the most valuable garden resource books you'll ever need to read. From Aaron's rod to Zoysia grass, it's all covered here.

Look What Else You Get

Within these pages you'll also discover:

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    A complete description of each plant, vegetable, flower and tree
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    How to grow a multitude of plants, grasses and vegetables
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    When to harvest and how
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    Planning and planting a successful garden
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    Pest control including symptoms, causes and cures
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    Designing Water, Rock, Shade and Rose Gardens

We could go on a long time about all the great gardening information contained in this book and still not cover everything it includes. The attention to detail and instruction is impressive. Bottom line, if you want a great looking gardening book containing a world of garden knowledge then look no further than Treasury of Gardening

But Wait, There's More!  

Growing Herbs

Growing herbs will be easy and rewarding when following the guidelines set forth in these books. The beauty of herbs is they flourish with little care on our part. You'll learn about about early blooming herbs, slow and late bloomers and the best varieties to grow. In addition, growing herbs will make your garden beautiful, fragrant and even delicious.

You will learn:

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    Growing herbs indoors or out
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    Designing an herb garden-formal or informal
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    The particulars of the most popular herbs with pictures
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    Harvesting - when & how
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    Effective pest control both natural & chemical
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    So much more...

While there is a garden of information to be harvested from the aforementioned books, we would be remiss in our mission if we didn't recommend a stand alone herb book. 

Keeping it retro, Lesley Bremness wrote a beautiful and complete book on herbs back in 1994 that is still the standard by which other books on the subject are judged today. The Complete Book of Herbs is just what the title boasts. This book contains everything you'll ever need to know about herbs including how to grow and use them. So popular, this lovely coffee table reader it is still available on Amazon today. For easy reference, this book appears in paperback as well and for cheap.

Well, that's about it then.  By adding either one of these classic garden books (or both) to your collection and throwing in the herb book, you will possess all the knowledge you'll ever need and be well on your way to creating a lovely and healthy garden while becoming the gardener you always dreamed you could be.

A big, green thumbs-up to you!    

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Before You Go!

About the author

    Alan Ray

    Alan Ray is an independent writer who has experienced an eclectic career. He co-created and was the Head Writer for a reality television series as well as composing and producing the Theme song. He has written radio comedy, specials for National Public Radio, hundreds of blogs and no end of gardening and how-to articles spanning a galaxy of topics from aquaponics to the history of the flush toilet. He has also worked tirelessly on countless projects that went nowhere. Additionally, Alan spent years in recording studios in Nashville, Tennessee, where he worked as a staff songwriter for various music publishing companies. He is both a multiple BMI Award recipient and ASCAP award-winning songwriter, respectively. He has also written 5 books and is a New York Times best selling author (Non-Fiction/Humor). While touring the country doing book-signings, he did over 700 live radio interviews with every major radio station in the nation as well as the BBC and Radio Free Europe. Currently, he is a regular contributor to this site in addition to two of the top gardening magazines in Canada including a Medical Marijuana magazine and also a B2B mag. He enjoys small town life in southern Tennessee where his time is spent writing, messing with plants and laughing a lot with his lovely and quick-witted wife.

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