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I absolutely love to reference gardening books when designing garden beds or even to pass the time in the winter months when I’m planning a new space out. There are many options available so I thought I’d share with you some of my absolute favorite gardening books for 4-season landscaping and why I love each of them.

The Four-Season Landscape: Easy-Care Plants and Plans for Year-Round Color 

by Susan Roth

Amy holding two gardening books by Susan Roth
I owe a lot of my obsession with 4-season gardening to Susan A. Roth’s books!

This is the gardening book that started my obsession with landscape design and 4-season gardening. The Four-Season Landscape by Susan Roth is a great reference guide that I’m constantly referring to. The book contains lots of practical design information coupled with lots of beautiful landscape photos. There’s also garden plans and a handy reference in the back with lots of plants, trees, flowers and shrubs that have interest in multiple seasons.

Susan, like myself, gardens in the Northeast, so I would take that into consideration before purchasing. A lot of the plant choices and plan ideas are catered towards Gardening Zones 6-7. However, I think that anyone interested in 4 season gardening will get a lot out of this book… no matter where you live.

Gardening with Foliage First 

by Karen Chapman and Christina Salwitz

Amy Holding Foliage First Gardening Book
I’m obsessed with the cute names for these complex and interesting plant combinations!

Gardening with Foliage First is an absolute delight of plant recipies that you can try at home. If you love creating container gardens or are always looking for new plant combinations to try out, definitely grab this handy reference. There are so many (127 to be exact) unique planting combinations with beautiful photos of each.

I think that my favorite part is that Chapman and Salwitz named each and every design. From Bad Hair Day and Beauty Without the Best to Dinosaur Soup and The Ticklish Porcupine, you’ll find incredibly unique and stunning plant combos with a touch of fun and whimsy in every title. I’m constantly referencing this gardening book!

The Weekend Garden Guide: Work-Saving Ways to a Beautiful Backyard 

by Susan Roth

Another great read by Susan Roth, this particular book is focused on the life of a “weekend gardener.” There are lots of gardening tips, for flower gardeners and vegetable gardeners alike, that will help you to save time and keep your garden under control even if you only have a bit of time on the weekends to tend to it. I really enjoyed this book and got a lot of great ideas from it. Just like her Design Your 4-Season Garden book, this also contains a plant, tree, flower and shrub reference in the back that you will find yourself referring to… a lot.

Kiss my Aster: A Graphic Guide to Creating a Fantastic Yard Totally Tailored to You 

by Amanda Thomsen

Amy Holding Kiss My Aster Gardening book
This is my top choice for gift-giving. Just make sure the person you’re giving it to has a bit of a sense of humor about gardening (as you can probably tell from the title).

This is such a fun and gorgeously illustrated landscape design book. It will take you on a journey from start to finish. I used to love “choose your own adventure” books as a kid and this has a very similar format that was such a joy to explore. It’s colorful, engaging and the information within the book is Amy-approved. To clarify: I didn’t see any concerning info/content within this book that I disagree with, which happens often when I read simplified versions of complex topics like landscape design.

So, if you’re looking for a fun guide that will help you to get started in your dream garden journey, be sure to pick up Kiss My Aster. I received this as a Christmas gift and can vouch for the fact that it makes an excellent gift for any garden lover on your list– as long as they have a sense of humor and a fun-loving spirit!

Bringing Nature Home: How You Can Sustain Wildlife with Native Plants 

by Doug Tallamy

I would really recommend any of Doug Tallamy’s books if you’re at all interested in native plants, organic gardening, biodiversity or reducing your impact on the world around you (like all gardeners who love nature honestly should). This gardening book brings to light ways that we can begin to bring native plants back to suburbia and the home garden along with examples of how to do so and why it’s so important.

You’ll learn so much from Bringing Nature Home and the role that you can personally play in providing for and protecting local wildlife. I believe that it will fundamentally shift the way that you think about gardening.

Principles of Gardening: The Practice of the Gardener’s Art 

by Hugh Johnson

I recently picked up this monster-sized book per a recommendation from an episode of the A Way To Garden podcast where they discussed some of their all-time favorite gardening reference books. Although this book was originally printed in the late 1970s, I will say that Hugh Johnson was FAR ahead of his time. Principles of Gardening is packed with all kinds of gardening information. I enjoy that it’s not organized as a traditional gardening “encyclopedia” is. I actually read this cover to cover without tiring of all that I was learning.

I especially enjoyed the chapter called A Garden Place For Every Plant where Johnson covers the different types of plants that you can use in your garden and why you should consider incorporating all of them. This is really similar to my landscape layering philosophy and my usage of the garden pyramid. So, if you like the way that I think about gardens, I think you’ll love this book as well.

Cool Flowers: How to Grow and Enjoy Long-Blooming Hardy Annual Flowers Using Cool Weather Techniques 

by Lisa Mason Ziegler

This is another recent purchase that absolutely blew me away. Cool Flowers has really opened my eyes to a whole new way of gardening — which is actually the “old way” of gardening. In this guide, Lisa Ziegler breaks down the lifecycle of annual flowers in a way that will change the way you look at them. She discusses how you can actually grow some of these hardy annuals from seed starting in the summer and leave them in the ground all winter long. By doing so, you’re helping the flowers to gain a stronger root system which will reward you the following spring. Not only that but you’ll get blooms MUCH earlier than if you start from seed at the end of winter like many of us do.

I really appreciated her lists of flowers to try this method with, along with her own personal results and the hardiness zones that this will work for. If you live in a cooler climate (Zone 7 or lower) I would highly recommend this book for improving your garden beds earlier in the season with a lot less effort.

Honorable Mentions

Here are a few other books that I really enjoy and would recommend you check out if they sound interesting to you!

If you enjoyed this post, be sure to check out my recommendations for the best gardening magazines and best gardening TV shows, too.

Wrapping Up

There are so many gardening books available that it can be really overwhelming to choose the right one for you. Try any of the books on my list and you’re sure to have a reference that you’ll be going back to for a long time!

In addition, I would recommend trying to find books written by gardeners or landscape designers that live in a similar climate to you. I usually find these books the most helpful when looking for ideas for my own garden as there’s nothing worse than staring at a beautiful photo and realizing that it’s not a reality for your climate!

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