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Ideas for Armchair Gardeners
Books, Magazines and Gift Certificates
December 9, 2000

  • Books
  • Magazines/Newsletters
  • Gift Certificates
  • More Great Gifts

    In the months ahead, we’ll be posting book reviews of both new and classic garden books. In fact, your own reviews will be most welcome (and enable me to have a life). For now, though, here’s a wholly prejudiced selection of gift books for gardeners in case you’re completely stumped.

    Plant This

    Plant This! Best Bets for Year-Round Gorgeous Gardens
    By Ketzel Levine, Rene Eisenbart (Illustrator)
    I told my online developer it was tacky to put my book first but she said, "get over it, girl" so I have. I think the book turned out very nicely. It’s a collection of 100 plant profiles, each with gorgeous watercolor illustrations (I can say that), cultural information, fun factoids and nonsensical rhymes. Many plants included here are hardy to zero degrees.

    Dictionary of Plant Names

    Dictionary of Plant Names
    By Allen J. Coombes
    If the horthead in your life loves Latin names -– and is struggling to pronounce and understand them -– this is indispensable. I continue to lean heavily on Coombes compact little dictionary and consider it a must-have reference. Be sure to give your gardener the Timber Press catalog, too.

    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. It’s sort of the Mahler’s 2nd of The Basic Garden Library; a little over the head of a beginning gardener, but once they grow into it, they’ll never look back.

    A to Z
    Passionate Gardening
    By Lauren Springer and Rob Proctor
    My pick for the Best New Book of the Year. Now, you need to know that I adore Lauren Springer (she’s got four dogs, need I say more?) but that’s only half of it. The book bursts at the seam with advice and information, is written with passion and humor, and is downright gorgeous to behold.

    Color By Design
    Color By Design: Planting The Contemporary Garden
    By Nori Pope, Sandra Pope
    Whoa. Here’s one for both the gardener and the coffee table. This book does not seem to have made a lot of noise in this country and that’s a pity because you are not going to believe the botanical bacchanal between these covers. And it’s got brains, too.

    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, ma’am: an exhaustive list of plant names (Latin only, of course) and the NW nurseries that carry them. Plant books just don’t get nerdier than this. Yeah!

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    Here's a couple of quick ideas:

    For The Erudite Gardener
    Hortus: A Gardening Journal. If you value pillow talk at night, do not give this to your gardener lover. It’s 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
    There’s nothing sexy about the newsletter, HortIdeas (this month’s cover story: Herbicide Contamination of Compost) but for the hardcore grower and the scientifically-minded, this is the nematode’s pajamas. For a subscription, e-mail

    For The Humor-Impaired Gardener
    I don’t believe there’s 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. Great exposure to crucial ideas without the sanctimonious nonsense.

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    Gift Certificates
    Way back at the beginning of this Gifts For Gardeners tome, I suggested a gift certificate to a nursery. If you’ve got a good one in your area, I urge you to support it. If not, or if you’re looking for something out of the ordinary, here’s a few of my favorite mail order nurseries (with a decidedly Northwest prejudice. So sue me):

    The Bamboo Garden
    Brent and Becky's Bulbs
    Collector’s Nursery
    Digging Dog Nursery
    Gossler Farms Nursery, Springfield, OR. -- (541) 746-3922
    Heirloom Old Garden Roses
    Heronswood Nursery
    Joy Creek Nursery
    Logee's Greenhouses, Ltd.
    Niche Gardens
    Plant Delights Nursery, Inc.
    Siskiyou Rare Plant Nursery
    Swan Island Dahlias
    White Flower Farm

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