Book Recommendations

Great Books We Heartily Recommend

Who says knowledge can’t be bought?! Immerse yourself in great books and your gardening skills and information levels will go way up! These are some of the best of the best among garden titles. There are encyclopedia-types, how-to’s, literary masterpieces, reference titles, historical information, and much more. We will update our list as we see fit to do so.

One of this nursery’s many strong points is its outrageous library—we have hundreds of titles on the shelves here. It’s amazing what has been published in the English language for gardeners over the years. And right now seems to be the heyday of it all, with loads of new books appearing every year.

Some of this information is available on-line if you want to click all over creation, but we recommend you get it physically in front of you. You have to actually read the books to become smarter, and some things you really need to memorize, and it’s hard to do that on the internet.

It’s amazing what has been published in the English language for gardeners over the years. And right now seems to be the heyday of it all, with loads of new books appearing every year.

Reading can be one of life’s greatest pleasures, and is a fun way to spend the winter hours when you can’t physically garden. Most of those catalogs that you’ve been looking at need a translator, anyway . . .

For the older volumes below, you can try used bookstores or a website that deals in out-of-print titles.


  • Dirr’s Hardy Trees and Shrubs by Michael Dirr, Timber Press (1997),
    ISBN 0-88192-404-0 (could be our plant bible)
  • Dirr’s Trees & Shrubs for Warm Climates by Michael Dirr, Timber Press (2002),
    ISBN 0-88192-525-A (could be the plant bible if you lived further south)
  • Growing and Propagating Showy Native Woody Plants by Richard Bir, University of
    North Carolina Press (1992), ISBN 0-8078-2027-X
  • Handbooks of the Brooklyn Botanic Gardens, Brooklyn Botanic Garden Record,
    Various dates and subjects, (nice inexpensive volumes on a particular topic)
  • Principles of Gardening by Hugh Johnson, Simon & Schuster (1979) ISBN 0-671-24273-3
    (out of print, well worth hunting)
  • Trees for American Gardens by Donald Wyman, Macmillan Co. (1965)
  • Shrubs and Vines for American Gardens by Donald Wyman, Macmillan Co.(1969)
  • Standard Cyclopedia of Horticulture by Liberty Hyde Bailey, Macmillan Co. (1963)
    (This one goes back to 1901 1st edition; probably the classic American work on
    the subject of horticulture, absolutely priceless, 2 or 3 volume set)
  • The Year in Trees by Kim Tripp & J.C. Raulston, Timber Press (1995),
    ISBN 0-88912-521-7


  • Conifers the Illustrated Encyclopedia by D.M. van Gelderen and J.R.P. van Hoey
    Smith,2 volumes, Timber Press (1996), ISBN 0-88192-354-0
    (best conifer picture book)
  • Conifers for Gardens: An Illustrated Encyclopedia by Richard Bittner, Timber Press
    (2007), ISBN 976-0-88292-830-3
  • The Conifer Quarterly, magazine of the American Conifer Society.
    (very informative & highly recommended—if you love conifers, you should join this group!)
    Subscribe via Mr. John Martin, 175 Charisma Lane, Lewisville, NC 27023-961
  • The Cultivated Hemlocks by John Swartley, Timber Press (1984),
    ISBN 0-917304-74-8
  • Gardening With Conifers by Adrian Bloom, Firefly Books (2002),
    ISBN 1-55209-635-1 (one of our favorites!)
  • Dwarf Conifers by Humphrey Welch, Faber & Faber (1966 & later editions)
    (out of print)
  • Manual of Cultivated Conifers by Gerd Krussmann, Timber Press (1995),
    ISBN 0-88192-007-X

Japanese Maples

Japanese Maples by J.D.Vertrees, Timber Press (2001), ISBN 0-88192-501-2
Maples for Gardens by C.J. van Gelderen & D.M. van Gelderen, Timber Press (1999)
ISBN 0-88192-472-5


  • Armitage’s Garden Perennials by Alan Armitage, Timber Press (2000),
    ISBN 0-88192-435-0
  • Perennial Combinations by C. Colston Burrell, Rodale Press (1999),
    ISBN 13-978-0-87596-806-3
  • The Well-Tended Perennial Garden by Tracy DiSabato-Aust, Timber Press (1998),
    ISBN 0-88192-414-8
  • Daffodils for North American Gardens by Brent & Becky Heath, Bright Sky Press
    (2001), ISBN 0-9704729-7-8
  • Christopher Lloyd’s Garden Flowers, Christopher Lloyd, Timber Press (2000),
    ISBN 0-88192-492-X (any of Mr. Lloyd’s works are exceptional)

Great Garden Reading

A Southern Garden by Elizabeth Lawrence, University of North Carolina Press,
(1984) (Miss Lawrence was (and is) the queen of American garden writers.
Her material is factual, beautifully written, and as true today as it was when she
wrote it. All her works are highly recommended, but start with this one!)
Beautiful Madness by James Dodson, Penguin Books (2006), ISBN 0525-94825-6
(what happens to you when you get sucked into the world of horticulture)

Specialty Topics

  • Diseases of Trees & Shrubs by Wayne Sinclair and Howard Lyon, Cornell University
    Press (2005), ISBN 0-8014-4371-7
  • Insects That Feed on Trees and Shrubs, by Warrren Johnson and Howard Lyon,
    Cornell University Press, (1991), ISBN 0-8014-2602-2
  • Wescott’s Plant Disease Handbook by R. Kenneth Horst, Van Nostrand Reinhold,
    (1990—5th edition), ISBN 0-442-31853-7