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Garden Variety: A Book List for Gardeners

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By Jennifer E. Beaver

With Christmas right around the corner, you may be wondering what to give the gardener in your life. Choose the right book, and the lucky recipient will thank you all year long. Or grab one for yourself.
The following reflect my personal preference for gardening books that have practical value. Many are specific to California. That’s important because our unique climate presents opportunities and challenges that one-size-fits-all books do not address.
All are available at Borders, Barnes & Noble and Amazon. You can also find used books in excellent condition at N’Used Books (4141 Norse Way) and Once Read Books (5422 E. Village Rd.), both in Long Beach.

Western Garden Book, Sunset Books. Beautiful pictures, alphabetized plant listings and smart, targeted advice for our region. Every gardener needs one.
Western Landscaping Book, Sunset Books. This companion volume to the Western Garden Book is a godsend to design-challenged gardeners.
Landscaping with Ornamental Grasses, Sunset Books. Read this and you’ll find yourself sticking easy-care grasses in every pot and bed.
California Home Landscaping, Roger Holmes and Lance Walheim. Realistic advice, a friendly tone and easy-to-follow plant diagrams make this a winner.
California Native Plants for the Garden, Carol Bornstein, David Fross, Bart O’Brien. Many California natives are fine choices for drought-tolerant landscapes. This book offers opinionated (in a good way) advice and beautiful illustrations.
Southern California Organic Gardening: Month to Month, Pat Walsh. Now in its third edition, this classic’s month-by-month format is useful. Walsh has a straightforward style.
Container Gardening for California, Jennifer Beaver and Don Williamson. Yes, it’s my book. Of course, I’m biased— but fellow gardeners tell me it’s helpful. The compact size, detailed alphabetized plant listings and fantastic photos make it just the right book to tote to the garden center when you’re trying to figure out what plants to put in a container.
Bountiful Container: Create Container Gardens of Vegetables, Herbs, Fruits and Edible Flowers, Rose Marie Nichols McGee and Maggie Stuckey. I love this book and refer to it constantly for great container combinations like “The Salsa Bowl” and “A Chinatown Greengrocer.”
All New Square Foot Gardening, Mel Bartholomew. This updated version includes specific information about planting in raised beds, which are a useful alternative to our less-than-perfect soil.
Making the Most of Shade, Larry Hodgson. After reading this engaging book, I approach shade with more understanding and less dread.

book1Jennifer E. Beaver, a Wrigley resident, is a master gardener and author of Container Gardening for California.

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Garden Variety: A Book List for Gardeners