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Discover the best gardening books

The best gardening books to read in 2021

We consider the best horticultural and gardening books that all discerning gardeners need on their bookshelves

There are so many top-notch gardening and plant books to choose from, it can be a little overwhelming where to start. So, we have rounded up the best selection of books for plant lovers available in 2021. From books on wellbeing and gardening, growing vegetables in pots, cottage gardens, to Sissinghurst and royal gardens of the world; peruse through the best books for gardeners.

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The best gardening books in 2021

Rootbound: Rewilding a Life

by Alice Vincent, Canongate Books,
ISBN 978-1786897701

Rootbound

An inquisitiveness underpins Alice Vincent’s book: a natural compulsion to seek and nurture green amid London’s grey. It is Nature’s unwavering constancy that Vincent finds grounding, as a twenty-something contending with the pressures of ambition, loneliness and heartache.

Rootbound is both relevant and important, questioning what it means to call oneself a gardener, and where horticulture fits within the modern urban experience.

Reviewer Matt Collins is head gardener at the Garden Museum.

Grow Fruit & Vegetables in Pots

by Aaron Bertelsen, Phaidon Press,
ISBN 978-0714878614

GRowf&V

Aaron Bertelsen has spent his life loving plants and as a passionate cook has always had a special interest in growing fruit and vegetables. If you have limited space and time but have always wanted to grow fresh produce, this book will inspire and guide you in enjoying one of the most basic pleasures in life.

It also encourages experienced growers to think outside of the box and consider what can be achieved with plants in any situation.

Reviewer Tom Coward is head gardener at Gravetye Manor.

RHS Your Wellbeing Garden

by Alistair Griffiths and Matt Keightley, DK,
ISBN 978-0241386729

RHS

There is no better time to reap the calming benefits of natural spaces. Professor Alistair Griffiths, director of science at the RHS Centre for Horticultural Science and Learning, highlights the benefits of four types of wellbeing garden: Protective, Healing, Nourishing and Sustainable.

Each chapter is dedicated to the benefits of each type, while practical design advice from Matt Keightley shows how to put ideas into practice.

Reviewer Katie Dutton is editorial assistant for Gardens Illustrated.

The Well Gardened Mind

by Sue Stuart-Smith, Harper Collins,
ISBN 978-0008100711

TWGM

This is a book so wise and comfortable that it merits a place by the side of every bed. The book’s main tenet is simple: that our gardens and nature are vital to our wellbeing.

Stuart-Smith leads us gently through case studies, literary references and fascinating historic vignettes to show clearly what has been hiding in plain sight: that we are part of nature and that we need to cultivate our connection with it in order to thrive.

Reviewer Marian Boswall is a landscape architect and garden writer.

Botanical Revelation

by David J Mabberley, NewSouth Books,
ISBN 978-1742236476

BR

Botanical Revelation is not light reading. It is so densely packed with knowledge and incident that you may need a large pot of coffee and several reference books to make the most of it. But the text is leavened unstintingly with botanical illustrations and with facsimiles of historical herbarium specimens, which bring a particular immediacy to the account; all efforts to delve into this book will be more than amply repaid.

Reviewer Rory Dusoir is a Kew-trained gardener and writer.

Tokachi Millennium Forest

by Dan Pearson with Midori Shintani, Filbert Press,
ISBN 978-1999734541

TMF

The centrepiece of Dan Pearson’s design for the Tokachi Millennium Forest is the Meadow Garden, an immersive celebration of indigenous plants and selections of them. A third of the book is devoted to a detailed description of how this matrix was developed and continues to be managed, with a light hand, by head gardener Midori Shintani and her team, and this provides a masterclass in naturalistic planting.

Reviewer Annie Gatti is a freelance garden writer.

Palace of Palms

by Kate Teltscher, Picador,
ISBN 978-1529004854

PP

Cultural historian Kate Teltscher sets out to tell the human story of the iconic Palm House at the Royal Botanic Gardens, Kew, and the men who conceived, realised and maintained this extraordinary edifice.

Wearing her research lightly, Teltscher tells her tale of politicking and financial wrangles, domestic tragedies and epic plant hunting expeditions with a pace and vibrancy more commonly found in novels than in academic study.

Reviewer Jodie Jones is a freelance garden writer.

Gardening with Drought-Friendly Plants

by Tony Hall, Kew Publishing,
ISBN 978-1842467091

DFP

The main part of this timely guide to plants that will flourish in hot, dry summers is a comprehensive encyclopaedia of plants tried and tested by the author to be able to thrive in dry conditions. More than 200 plants are catalogued, with sections on bulbs, annuals, grasses, perennials, shrubs and trees, alongside, most usefully, details of the author’s experience of the plant.

Reviewer John Hoyland is a plantsman and writer.

How to Grow Your Dinner Without Leaving the House

by Claire Ratinon, Laurence King Publishing,
ISBN 978-1786277145

GYOD1

Author Claire Ratinon understands that space for growing veg might not be much more than a few hanging baskets outside a window; she isalsoexperiencedinallthe nuances of city growing from lugging containers to top-floor flats to the need for small-scale nutrient production, such as a wormery. As an engaging guide to getting going, I hope it gets a whole new generation hooked.

Reviewer Alys Fowler is a garden writer and horticulturist.

Sissinghurst: The Dream Garden

by Tim Richardson, Frances Lincoln,
ISBN 978-0711237346

Sissinghurst

The most up-to-date exploration of the garden, how it was created and why it remains so loved. Bringing the story up to date, Richardson reveals how, since the appointment of Dan Pearson as ‘godparent’, and under the tenure of Troy Scott Smith, the garden has once more regained the tone and feel of Harold and Vita’s intensely personal retreat.

Part horticultural tour and part exploration of the dreamlike qualities of the garden’s spaces.

Reviewer Annie Gatti is a freelance garden writer.

Flower: Exploring the World in Bloom

by Phaidon Editors, Phaidon,
ISBN 978-1838660857

Flowers

Images from across the ages are presented on facing pages, each picture echoing the other in its impressions of a flower or flowers.

By comparing the archaic with the contemporary, we are reminded that, though the years and context between the images may be vast, the artist’s relationship and fascination with their subject is steadfast. A captivating catalogue of flowers, as depicted in art throughout the ages.

Reviewer Katie Dutton is editorial assistant for Gardens Illustrated.

The Modern Cottage Garden

by Greg Loades, Timber Press,
ISBN 978-1604699081

MCG

New Perennial planting has lately achieved an indelible impact on how we view gardens. While this style answers well to the problems of large-scale landscapes, what of the domestic gardener, anxious to squeeze as much colour and joy as possible from a small plot?

In this title, Loades advocates incorporating elements of modern planting style into the traditional cottage garden idiom, and includes some of its key plants.

Reviewer Rory Dusoir is a Kew-trained gardener and writer.

The Garden: Elements and Styles

by Dr Toby Musgrave, Phaidon,
ISBN 978-1838660765

TG

A journey through 3,000 years of garden making that covers gardens and planting styles, from the first Islamic gardens of the seventh century to Piet Oudolf’s currently voguish New Perennial planting style.

This title may well grace the shelves of many a student of garden design, but it will just as easily appeal to plant lovers who may want to delve into the sumptuous photography while learning a thing or two about the wonders of the garden.

Reviewer Rae Spencer-Jones is books publisher at the RHS.

Royal Gardens of the World

by Mark Lane, Kyle Books,
ISBN 978-0857838018

RG

In this delightful book, garden designer and BBC Gardeners’ World presenter Mark Lane takes you on his personally curated Grand Tour, through Europe to India, Japan and Bali, to visit 21 famous royal gardens he believes have had an impact on garden design and history.

In these days of restricted travel, it is a pleasure to visit these great royal gardens from your own armchair and to share this labour of love from an erudite enthusiast.

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Reviewer Matthew Biggs is a Kew- trained gardener and presenter.