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The Doyenne of Dirt:
Great Gifts for Gardeners

Books, Magazines, Newsletters and Mail Order Plants
December 8, 2001

Listen to Ketzel talk about garden-related holiday gifts

Back by popular demand! For your perusal, the DofD's second annual gift list for gardeners. Stand by for a selection that pays homage to both the sublime and the ridiculous, including plenty of stimulating diversion for the winter-weary gardener.

  • Books
  • Magazines/Newsletters
  • Mail Order Plants

    Hereís a wholly prejudiced selection of gift books for gardeners, beginning with the authors youíve heard me interview on NPR. I also recommend that everyone check out the titles offered by
    Timber Press, the country's unrivaled publisher of horticultural/gardening books.

    By Michael Pollan

    Plant This The Botany of Desire
    By Michael Pollan
    Certainly the best-selling garden book of the year, Pollan has reached an astonishingly wide audience with his four essays about the co-evolution of man and plants.

    Coming Home To Eat

    Coming Home To Eat
    By Gary Nabhan
    If you're not inclined to thinking about the relationship between where you live and what you eat -- indeed, if you've never even considered the importance of such a relationship before -- this is a must-read.

    Ten Landscapes

    Ten Landscapes
    By Topher Delaney
    This book of Delaney's garden creations -- none of them small-budget affairs -- will ignite your imagination and inspire coffee table book awe.

    Plant This

    Plant This! Best Bets for Year-Round Gorgeous Gardens
    By Ketzel Levine, Rene Eisenbart
    Yes, my own book. Itís a collection of 100 plant profiles, each with gorgeous watercolor illustrations (I can say that), featuring many plants hardy to zero degrees.

    Anatomy Of A Rose Anatomy Of A Rose: Exploring the Secret Life of Flowers
    By Sharman Apt Russell
    I've kept this little gem of a book within bathtub reach for months. I never tire of dipping into it for startling and poetically-rendered snippets about plant life on the planet Earth.

    Flora Flora: An Illustrated History of the Garden Flower
    By Brent Elliott
    I've only just found out about this sumptuous book; here's an excerpt from a review in January Magazine: "Some coffee table books are loaded with glorious full color photographs or illustrations. Some are filled with illuminating text... Seldom, however, do you encounter a book that covers all of these areas more than adequately. Flora: An Illustrated History of the Garden Flower does all of these things, and more.

    Insects and Gardens
    Insects and Gardens: In Pursuit of a Garden Ecology
    By Eric Grissell
    Hot off the presses from Timber Press, here's a beauty of a book for the ecologically-savvy gardener. Professional entomologist and amateur gardener Eric Grissell suggests that it might be time to declare a truce with the insects in our lives. Truer words never spoken.

    Dictionary of Plant Names

    Dictionary of Plant Names
    By Allen J. Coombes
    If the horthead in your life loves Latin names -Ė and is struggling to pronounce and understand them -Ė this is indispensable.

    A to Z
    American Horticultural Society A To Z Encyclopedia Of Garden Plants
    By Christopher Brickell (Editor), Judith Zuk (Editor).
    Anyone seriously into plants craves knowledge and devours information. This encyclopedia is the one to have, period.

    A to Z
    Passionate Gardening
    By Lauren Springer and Rob Proctor
    This book bursts at the seam with advice and information, is written with passion and humor, and is downright gorgeous to behold.

    The Pruning Book
    The Pruning Book
    By Lee Reich
    I am continually asked to recommend a pruning book and I do so now with complete confidence. Lee Reich removes the fear of pruning in this manageable how-to book, and may just save the day for that wayward gardener in your life who has a tendancy to hack back rather than lovingly prune.

    Taylor's Master Guide to Landscaping
    Taylor's Master Guide to Landscaping
    By Rita Buchanan
    Finally, I have a reply to one of the most-asked questions in gardening: what's the best, all-around, how-to book? Buchanan's tome is a superb all-in-one, whether you're looking at the big picture in garden design or need enlightened advice on the make-or-break details. The longer I look at this book, the more I find.

    Plant Locator
    The Pacific Northwest Plant Locator
    By Susan Narizny and Susan Hill
    Last but not least, something for Northwest gardeners. Every region of the country should be so blessed. The Plant Locator is just the facts, an exhaustive list of plant names (Latin only, of course) and the NW nurseries that carry them. Plant books just donít get nerdier than this. Yeah!

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    For The All-Around Gardener:

  • Horticulture Magazine
  • Fine Gardening
  • Country Living Gardener
  • The Gardener
  • The Gardener

    For The Erudite Gardener:
    Hortus: A Gardening Journal. If you value pillow talk at night, do not give this to your gardener lover. Itís a heady English quarterly that will consume whatever remains of the day.

    For The Covetous Gardener:
    I apologize for hawking English publications but Gardens Illustrated remains the most scintillating of garden magazines. Awfully good writing, too.

    For The Nitty Gritty Gardener:
    Thereís nothing sexy about the newsletter, HortIdeas but for the hardcore grower and the scientifically-minded, this is the nematodeís pajamas. For a subscription, e-mail

    For The Humor-Impaired Gardener:
    I donít believe thereís a funnier gardening newsletter than the one published by PlantAmnesty, an irrepressible grassroots group out of Seattle advocating against the senseless torture and mutilation of trees and shrubs.

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    Mail Order Plants
    Way back at the beginning of this Gifts For Gardeners tome, I suggested a gift certificate to a nursery. If youíve got a good one in your area, I urge you to support it. If not, or if youíre looking for something out of the ordinary, hereís a few of my favorite mail order nurseries (with a decidedly Northwest prejudice. So sue me!):

    The Bamboo Garden
    Brent and Becky's Bulbs
    Brothers Herbs And Peonies
    Collectorís Nursery
    Colvos Creek Nursery
    Cricket Hill Garden: Peony Heaven
    Digging Dog Nursery
    Gossler Farms Nursery, Springfield, OR. -- (541) 746-3922
    Greer Gardens, Inc.
    Heirloom Roses
    Heronswood Nursery
    Joy Creek Nursery
    Niche Gardens
    Plant Delights Nursery, Inc.
    Prairie Nursery
    Roslyn Nursery
    Siskiyou Rare Plant Nursery
    Swan Island Dahlias
    White Flower Farm

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