Some gardening books I love, and a little giveaway

February 9, 2015

Well, back to the rain!

This afternoon I made myself a cup of tea and brought Merry Hall back down to the library and decided to stay a while.

031 copy copy

I feel so lucky to have this beautiful room full of my most favourite books. Robert and I built this library/TV room. When I bought this house, there was a broken pipe behind a wall, and R and I had to take down the wall, fix the pipe and replace the plaster…etc. Then, we took all the Ikea Billy shelves I had and bought a couple more, then, we cut some down, screwed the rest together, built a ledge under the window, and that’s how we constructed this beautiful, bespoke library.

020 copy copy

So, I turned on my “happiness lamp”.


And, on this cold, dreary, winter day, I thought about picking up my long neglected needlepoint, but, you know how it is, once you read one brilliant gardening book, you want to read more!

033 copy copy

In this room, one entire book case is dedicated to R’s books: Alexander Kent, Robin Hobb, Terry Brooks, Michael Moorcock, Peter Cheyney. One entire case is dedicated to a joint love of Terry Pratchett, Arthur Conan Doyle, Agatha Christie and P.G. Wodehouse.

But one whole case is full of my gardening books, and those are my loves.

I suppose I have all the books I’ll ever need about gardening. I’ve got Gertrude Jekyll, RBG Kew books, Rachel de Thames, Monty Don and the books from almost all the other Gardeners World presenters, I’ve got all the wonderful books which I needed to study for and get my Master Gardener degree, and I’ve got an addiction to collecting vintage gardening books; there are plenty of those. But there are some books which I love so much, that I come back to them time and again. These books are so loved, that I wouldn’t want to be without them. I bet you know exactly what I mean.


I pulled out some of my favourites…it was so hard to choose…but I wanted to share them with you.

014 copy copy

My first love, and the book I told you about before, is Elisabeth de Lestrieux The Art of Gardening in Pots. Oh my gosh, this is garden porn to the max!

gardening in pots2

I got this book before Amazon, and it wasn’t available in Canada. I sent my parents, and more to the point, a British relative, on a wild goose chase to find a copy for me. They came thru with a 1990 copy from the British Antique Collector’s Club. I love it today as much as I loved it then.
(PS. My hoya doesn’t look anything as stylish as this one snaking around this amazing window…also, I don’t have an amazing window like this one!)

gardening in pots

My second best love is good old Martha Stewart Gardening. Oh come on, you know you loved her then. I have a strong bond with this book because, 20+yrs ago, I was expecting Chloe and in danger of losing her, and confined to bed for the last trimester of a high risk pregnancy. I sort of believe that this book, the hope of gardening in the future with a happy, healthy, fat and cherubic baby in Moses basket sleeping beside me while roses and irises bloom away, I believe that it saved my sanity.

Admit it, we all loved Martha of the old Turkey Farm years, before the Martha Inc.

But damn Martha anyway. The price of ironstone, hobnail and jadeite has absolutely gone thru the roof thanks to her.

martha stewart gardening

One vintage book I would never want to be without is Roy E. Biles The Complete Book of Garden Magic. I searched and searched for this book for a few years, even looking in the vintage book shops in London, (only to be told that…well…it’s American…isn’t it…and a little too…er…new for the London shops), but I finally found a copy. (pre Amazon, remember?) Then I found a second, newer version, and, I’m afraid it may be like my Agatha Christies. Must save every copy of Garden Magic I find!

007 copy copy

It’s full of the most wonderful advice…some I’ve never heard of but have followed with the best of success. One caution though, vintage gardening books are big on pesticides and herbicides. Guess they didn’t know any better back then…even the pesticide spray pumps were called “widow makers” for a reason…but then, we’re much more enlightened these days, aren’t we?

008 copy copy

I have a thing for “Veronicas”, and read In Veronica’s Garden when my garden architect friend Adrian lent it to me, and then decided I needed to own it. This Veronica was Veronica Milner. She was born and raised at Glin Castle, Ireland, and she gardened right here on the West Coast. She was a friend of the queen and hosted some members of the royal family there, even Charles and Diana. She offered them a quiet respite from the paparazzi flashbulbs while they were visiting the Vancouver Expo on 1986. She is gone now, and her garden is safe in the hands of the University of Victoria, and people can come visit and experience the peace that is there.

010 copy copy

Two absolutely fun books, which I read over and over are, The Gin and Tonic Gardener, by Janice Wells, and Tottering in my Garden, by Midge, Ellis Keebler.

The Gin and Tonic Gardener is a brilliantly written bunch of anecdotes by the witty columnist Janice Wells. Robert bought me this book for Christmas one year, and then he bought me her second book Another Splash of the Gin and Tonic Gardener. With a title like that, you know it’s going to be funny.

005 copy copy

Tottering in my Garden, is the memoir of an East Coast Canadian gardeners, Midge Ellis Keeble. It’s one of the most rewarding, loving, heart-warming books I’ve ever read. It is in this book, where a young mother, who knows next to nothing and goes on to build one of the most beautiful gardens where her daughters got married in, that I first discovered Roy E Biles and his Garden Magic wisdom.

So there you go. Some of my favourite gardening books. And this post is long enough and I haven’t even scratched the surface of my collection, but perhaps that’s best left for another time.

In the meantime, I have a second copy of Tottering in my Garden here in my library. It’s practically brand new and I’d love to send it off to someone. I’d love to also include a little journal and maybe some art cards and maybe some other little surprises. So just leave me a quick message in the comments and I’ll do the random draw thingie this next Sunday.

017 copy copy

Happy gardening friends. I’m sure the rain/snow/frost will end soon and spring will be greening and popping and springing up all over the place. πŸ˜€

Invitation to Drawing Challenge # 158 : Aqua
Hello from Sunday night, the gardening edition

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  • Reply Patricia A. McGoldrick February 9, 2015 at 7:31 pm

    Veronica, I enjoyed this little ramble through your garden books! I have only a few books on gardening but each year I hope to add to the collection. Patrick Lima’s books on Herbs and Perennials are two of my favourites for gardening in southwestern Ontario. πŸ™‚

  • Reply jae February 9, 2015 at 7:40 pm

    Thanks for suggesting these books…..I will look for them. Nothing like garden dreaming on a rainy day! Yes, I admit, I always looked forward to the next Turkey Hill adventure with Martha. Good post, appreciate you.

  • Reply Katie February 9, 2015 at 7:59 pm

    Might you have any books by Maureen Jabour? Her gardening titles are Celebrating a Small English Garden, A Medley of Gardens and Magical Gardens. They may be more well known here by gardeners in Colorado. Her daughter is my dentist, and her books are quite lovely!

  • Reply Jo February 9, 2015 at 8:57 pm

    Oh joy – more gardening books to order. I have several that I’ve read over and over – here’s my list of super favorites. Elizabeth and Her German Garden and The Solitary Summer – by Elizabeth von Armin – The Garden Letters by Elspeth Bradbury and Judy Maddox (two friends gardening in Canada – one on each coast, write charming garden letters to each other – The Three Thousand Mile Garden by Leslie Land and Roger Philips – an American woman corresponds with a book store owner in England and they share their love of gardening – Tasha Tudor’s Garden – lovely illustrations and stories from Tasha’s garden – and Honeysuckle Sipping by Jeanne Chesanow – fun stories of flowers.

    I am rereading the Garden Letters right now – for about the 5th time – it is one of the most charming books.

    I am going to order a few of the ones you mentioned – it is always good to have a new garden book in our dark, rainy winters. I’m sure you’ve heard of or have all the books I’ve listed, but I wanted to share my favorites anyway.

  • Reply Heather S February 9, 2015 at 9:14 pm

    What a lovely post! I have the same edition Matha Stewart Gardening
    Book and I love it!

  • Reply Jenna Oh February 9, 2015 at 11:21 pm

    Your bookself looks lovely! And the garden books, they sound pretty nice too! I donΒ΄t have that many books but live next to library πŸ™‚

  • Reply Gill February 10, 2015 at 3:28 am

    I would love to have a garden like Martha Stewart at Turkey Hill, along with her staff to look after it…LOL Snowing here again in Southern Ontario.

  • Reply Anna Streater-McAllister February 10, 2015 at 4:20 am

    Great post Veronica! I also own the Martha Stewart Gardening book you show here. I purchased it used, and to my surprise it was an autographed copy! I think I’d enjoy the Gin and Tonic titles as well.Thanks for sharing!

  • Reply forestpoppyJulie February 10, 2015 at 4:53 am

    Oh gosh, these books are all new to me. Some of them sound fabulous though, especially Garden Magic. I have a small collection of gardening books which I love and I’m sure I’ll add more and more over the years. Our last house had a very small (absolutely tiny) garden and although I filled it with as many pots as possible and managed to grow a little veg 9also in pots) I think, with hindsight, it really affected me. Since our move up here, to a smaller house with a new build completely bare but big garden, I am so much happier. I have spent so many happy hours pottering and even more planning and dreaming. It will be slow, I don’t have a lot of time at the moment but I love the thought of it evolving and developing over the years.
    The giveaway sounds like a lot of fun! Juliex

  • Reply dayphoto February 10, 2015 at 7:53 am

    Just looking at the young Martha makes me realize how old I have become. Sigh. Of the the years I have gone from huge to more manageable yards, at least for me.

    Linda ???

  • Reply Marlene Stephenson February 10, 2015 at 8:31 am

    It is time to start thinking about plants.When my mom passed away she had some good garden books a enjoy reading.I too enjoyed Martha more in earlier times.

  • Reply Kelly deal February 10, 2015 at 9:35 am

    Love your library and I also love to collect vintage gardening books. I do have “Garden Magic” believe it or not. I love the illustrations! I also have a few vintage gardening magazines also. The ads in the back are really cool!

  • Reply Invitation to Drawing Challenge # 158 : Aqua | February 10, 2015 at 11:01 am

    […] don’t forget, there’s a little giveaway happening this Sunday here, for the most charming memoir of gardening book in the […]

  • Reply Joan February 10, 2015 at 11:10 am

    O, what a cozy post. I have a passion for books, all kinds of wonderful books and those about gardening and the gardener are perfect for this time of year when I just want to be inside drinking hot tea and having a plate on cinnamon toast at hand. What charming books you have chosen. I especially like the pic with your sweet feline friend…is he/she included? πŸ™‚
    Always a treat to find your post in the InBox.

  • Reply Tammie February 10, 2015 at 11:25 am

    so wonderful to hear of these different gardening books, how they have moved you and now perhaps us.
    thanks for the fun chance to win Tottering!

  • Reply Patty/NS February 10, 2015 at 2:19 pm

    Missing my Nanaimo garden very much right now. But once reno’s are completed with the new Nova Scotia property it will be time to start rehabing this old, very wild and overgrown yard. How sweet of you to offer up a copy of your wonderful favourite book. Tottering in the Garden sounds like something I will be capable of doing!

  • Reply daryledelstein February 11, 2015 at 11:22 am

    eons ago when my friends who own the bldg we live in had a roof garden i would help weeds because when the plants were mere shoots poking though the dirt Bill, our friend, often mistook weeds for plants

  • Reply fatdormouse February 12, 2015 at 4:56 am

    I’m not much of a gardener – we don’t have much of a garden – but I do do some potterig and potting on the balcony. Unfortunately the cats seem to like eating the seedlings so they don’t always do too well! Otherwise our courtyard just ends up looking a bit messy, except when the bleeding heart is flowering. Then – for a few weeks – it looks glorious!!

  • Reply Sharmon Davidson February 12, 2015 at 9:53 am

    What a cool collection of gardening books!

  • Reply Rosemarie Daviduk February 13, 2015 at 1:40 pm

    What a lovely room to get lost in amongst the pages of gardening books.

    One can never have enough gardening books.

    Have you read Cougar Annie’s Garden – set in a remote spot on the West Coast of BC.

  • Reply Aqua, my Drawing Challenge | February 13, 2015 at 5:33 pm

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  • Reply tinyWOOLF February 13, 2015 at 8:33 pm

    your passion shows, i can relate to a books heaven like the one your present us here, altough i’m being ruthless, off late. i tend to grow towards a smaller collection of books, ones i cannot go without, kind of. and i also promised myself i will read every book in my library i haven’t read yet, starting, right now! (i have quite a book wall on cooking though). n?

  • Reply Marian February 14, 2015 at 9:48 am

    I’m searching far and wide for gardening books for Spanish gardens! There were very few garden centres in Spain when we arrived, but over the years hundreds of them now! Land was only for food and never for pleasure, but times they are a changing and for the better now! mxx

  • Reply Felicia February 15, 2015 at 7:46 am

    Thanks for listing your favorites. Some of these are new to me and I look forward to tracking them down and reading them.

    Two very funny, yet practical, books by Cassandra Danz missing from your list:

    Mrs. Greenthumbs Plows Ahead: Five Steps to the Drop-Dead Gorgeous Garden of Your Dreams

    Mrs. Greenthumbs: How I Turned a Boring Yard into a Glorious Garden and How You Can, Too

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