Do you love reading good gardening books? Some books focus on the specifics of plants, giving detailed cultural information that help you choose your next plants and be better prepared to keep them alive. Others are full of inspiring design ideas, focusing on the overall picture. Here are two good shade gardening books I own, one of each type.
The first book is called Making the Most of Shade, by Larry Hodgson. This book is particularly valuable for the great detailed information on a wide variety of shade plants. The book is well organized, concentrating on perennials, including separate sections for grasses, bulbs, ferns and climbing plants. Each one gets its own 2 pages of comprehensive facts and a coloured picture. The information about the length of bloom time is particularly useful and often missing from other books. If you knew that a blossom is only around for 1 week, you might not plan an elaborate colour scheme around it. There are also top lists of plants for various conditions, discussions of the factors specific to shade and a general outline of design considerations. Another benefit is his honest appraisal of many plants. Many gardening magazines rave about all new introductions, but I appreciate knowing potential drawbacks in advance. This is an informative book that lends itself to repeated browsing.
My other favourite book on this topic is called The Natural Shade Garden and is written by Ken Druse. It focuses on designing the shade garden and is full of large inspiring pictures of garden beds, woodland scenes, terrific foliage texture combinations and beautiful plant details. This book also includes helpful lists of suggestions for different situations. The book captures that wonderful complex yet serene woodland environment that I would love to bring to my own yard. The author encourages you to think of the natural structure of the woodland, with the forest floor, middle layer and overhead canopy. There are detailed discussions of special shade gardens such as water gardening, rock gardening and container gardening. Photo collections of different gardens bring the ideas to life. This book helps you envision the type of garden you would like to develop in the shade.
These shade gardening books will inspire you, as well as giving practical advice for planning, planting and caring for your shade garden. I’ll be writing about other garden book categories in the future. I have some good books for gardening in northern/cold climates and some inspirational garden style books.