gardening books
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I remember being a voracious reader from the age of six (albeit comic books at that time).

by John Bagnasco

I almost looked forward to being ill, because that meant my mother would bring me two or three comics from the rack at the drug store. My friends and I were always anxious to share these ten cent tomes. As I grew older and ventured into novels, I remained happy to loan my books, but never borrowed. Subconsciously, I suppose that I felt that a part of my life was invested into the tales of those books and wanted them to be close at hand.

In high school, I developed an appetite for good fantasy (not science fiction) writers like Tolkien, Lewis, Brooks Jordan and others. Once I began my horticultural career, gardening books became an important reference source. When I moved to California in 1977, The Western Garden Book was bedtime reading as I learned the flora and gardening practices of a Mediterranean climate. Our first set of bookshelves quickly filled and so did a couple others, until the books began to fill up spaces in closets and storage boxes.

When we decided to build a new home a few years ago, the practical solution was to forgo a third bedroom and use the space for a proper library. Finally, all my books are easily accessible and grouped by themes. It is also important to note that the “internet library” is full of misconceptions that get copied from one blog to another. The printed word can be a more reliable resource. Here are a few suggestions to add to your own garden bookshelves.

For overall gardening west of the Rockies, Sunset’s Western Garden Book has most of the information that any Western gardener could ever want. New York Botanical Garden Illustrated Encyclopedia of Horticulture is a 10-volume set that was originally priced at over $100 each and copies can now be found for under ten dollars on the eBay. Bruce and Sharon Asakawa’s California Gardeners Guide is a handy and authoritative resource.

For garden mysteries read any of Anthony Eglin’s books, beginning with The Blue Rose: An English Garden Mystery. For just enjoyable and sometimes “laugh out loud” garden stories look for anything from Beverley Nichols, starting with Garden Open Today. Of course I have many ideas for books on specific topics, but you’ll just have to join us on Facebook to hear about those.