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Recommended Reading

Recommended reading and reference books for the lay gardener

There are of course an enormous number of books available for both the amateur gardener and the more advanced horticulturist.  As both my garden and my love of horticulture have grown over time, I have found the following books immensely helpful, and I can thoroughly recommend the list below from which to choose.  These are books that are straightforward, quick and easy to use and understand, often colourful and of great assistance in forward planning to get the best from your garden.  Many will be invaluable to budding horticulturists and I’ve mentioned a few advanced textbooks if you get very keen!

Science for the Gardener Guidebook and Accompanying PowerPoint Slides. Designed for the layman gardener and horticultural groups, graphically illustrated, lighthearted 55 slides and 55 matching helpful  notes.  Suitable for gardeners who are keen to learn a bit more about science in the garden.

Dr. D.G. Hessayon

The ‘Expert Books’ series on:  The Garden, Bedding Plants, Evergreens, Bulbs, Containers, Lawns, Flowering Shrubs, Rock & Water Gardens,  Vegetables & Herbs and many more, with pocket sized versions also available. Invaluable quick reference books .-Ed

RHS Guides 

  • Good Plant Guide – Dorling Kindersley

  • What Plant When – Dorling Kindersley

  • Gardening Month by Month – Dorling Kindersley

These are useful well organised handy-sized books to carry around;  take one with you to the garden centre for quick and easy reference.-Ed


Plant Finder – an invaluable RHS Guide when searching for plants.

RHS practical books

  • Garden Structures by Richard Wiles

  • Organic Gardening by Pauline Pears & Sue Stickland

  • Garden Planning by Robin Williams

  • Plant Propagation by Philip McMillan Browse all published by Mitchell Beazley

Sit down with a cup of tea and browse through any one of these well-illustrated books.  You will not be disappointed.- Ed

Collins’ publications

Collins Tree Guide by Owen Johnson & David More – a definitive, fully illustrated guide to the trees of Britain and non-Mediterranean Europe. I’ve found this guide invaluable,well organised and with tree families given it’s very helpful to the novice if your trying to actually identify a particular tree ,which is not always easy!.-Ed.

Pests, Diseases & Disorders of Garden Plants by Stefan Buczacki & Keith Harris – this guide has been specially planned so that gardeners with little technical knowledge can quickly identify and treat the pests, diseases and disorders that commonly affect their garden plants. It’s so easy to use, especially with plenty of pics showing typical pests and diseases-Ed

Collins pocket books

Trees of Britain and Europe by G. Aas & A. Riedmiller  Wild Flowers of Britain and Europeby W. Lippert and D. Podlech

Colourful, handy-sized guides – always useful when taking a walk in the countryside.-Ed

Good general text books for the gardener

Latin for Gardeners by Lorraine Harrison – Published by Mitchell Beazley – over 3,000 plant names explained and explored in an interesting and readable format.

Science and the Garden – RHS/Blackwell Publishing – The scientific basis of horticultural practice for advanced students edited by David S. Ingram,  Daphne Vince-Prue and Peter J. Gregor

An excellent very detailed text book for the serious student of horticulture-Ed

Dictionary of Plant Sciences Oxford University Press. When you come across a tricky science word this book is what you need -Ed

Name that Plant – an illustrated guide to plant and botanical names Worth Press.  Plant naming made a bit easier-Ed

An Illustrated Guide to Perennials by Professor Marshall Craigmyle Published by Greenwich Editions.  If you want to identify the many perennials, this book has 1500, with clear pics of each plant and also very helpfully it gives the important plant families as well.-Ed

Botany for Gardeners – an illustrated introduction and guide by Brian Capon – B. T. Batsford Limited.  A very useful, not too complicated botany book for extra technical reference-Ed 

Common Families of Flowering Plants by Michael Hickey and Clive King – Cambridge University Press

I find that knowing which family a plant belongs to is immensely interesting for comparison of plant characteristics and very helpful in planning my garden.-Ed

A Handbook for Horticultural Students by Peter Dawson

A very useful addition to my library when I was a horticultural student.

Gardening  Periodicals

There are many attractive magazines  which I try to read when I have time.  All have beautiful pictures of gardens and practical gardening ideas.-Ed


The Garden – The monthly magazine produced by the RHS

The Plantsman – a quarterly periodical produced by the RHS

The Horticulturist – a quarterly magazine (one for each of the seasons) produced by the Chartered Institute of Horticulture.

I always enjoy these periodicals especially The Garden, with informative up to date news, articles, seasonal planting ideas, colourful pictures and important horticultural tips.  The Plantsman is a detailed plant discussion magazine -Ed

National Newspapers – have good gardening editorials especially on weekends, so look out for them.

TV Programmes

BBC 2  Gardeners World (Friday 8.30) – Useful practical gardening coverage with national treasure Monty Don and the team. Carol Kline is covering useful botanical  plant growing explanations at present.

Relaxing, informative,  I really look forward to new practical topics of interest  every week from Monty and the experienced team,  especially accompanied by Monty’s  fabulous dog Nigel.  Ed

BBC Gardeners Question Time Radio 4 (Fri 3pm /Sunday 2pm) – Interesting selection of quality questions from different audiences every week. Not to be missed.  Have a look in my Home blog at my rewarding experience on this programme when it came to Forde Abbey in Dorset last year.  Ed

Recommended Plant Societies

RHS  The  Leading UK Gardening Charity

Chartered Institute of Horticulture    Learned and Professional body of those professionaly  engaged in Horticulture in UK and Ireland

Hardy Plant Society

Alpine Garden Society

UK Aquatic Plant Society

Botanical Society of the British Isles

Essential British Gardens  UK and Republic of Ireland- gardens and arboretums

Furthering your gardening studies.

If you find the Science Talk Presentation, Science for the Gardener and other horticultural books helpful and interesting, you can easily take matters further and look around for horticultural and short gardening courses, whether just  practical or perhaps longer involving more studies at a local or regional college – just see how you feel! see RHS latest courses.

Perhaps have a search round and find out what they offer you that suits your requirements .-Ed

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