Five inspiring books about gardens | Gardening advice

The Flower Yard by Arthur Parkinson

‘A playful invitation to garden on a truly small scale’: The Flower Yard.

Written by the “plantfluencer” and rosy-cheeked protégé of Sarah Raven, this book is a playful invitation to garden on a truly small scale. “It is a calling out against what is small-garden dysmorphia, where gardens with lawns, sheds and even greenhouses are indeed called small,” states Parkinson in his introduction. HisParkinson’s own Nottinghamshire town garden is more accurately described as a brick path of “flamboyant and defiant” pots. On these pages, Parkinson shares his flair for cramming them with colour year-round, creating a garden of galvanised and terracotta pots brimming with bronze, toffee, chocolate and beetroot purple blooms. Hachette, £22

Gardening for Bumblebees by Dave Goulson

Catch the buzz: Gardening for Bumblebees.

“My professional interest in bees sprang from idly watching bumblebees visit comfrey flowers nearly 30 years ago,” explains Professor Dave Goulson. In this follow-up to his bestselling natural science book, A Sting in the Tale, Goulson distills three decades of academic research into an anecdote-laden book on pollinator diversity, the causes of pollinator decline and his favourite pastime: bee-watching. The book encourages gardeners to create a refuge for all garden pollinators, identifying the best trees, shrubs and flowers to plant and suggesting how to create the perfect breeding sites for these lovable insects. Square Peg, £16.99

Grow and Gather: A Gardener’s Guide to a Year of Cut Flowers by Grace Alexander

‘Nurture your own patch of beauty’: Grow and Gather.

Grace Alexander is a trained consultant clinical psychologist and a cut flower seed merchant. For Alexander, gardening is a means of escapism, and that is precisely what her gentle, atmospheric first book, Grow and Gather, offers the reader. From sowing in spring round to seed-collecting in autumn, the author encourages you to nurture your own patch of beauty, guiding you through the seasons with manageable job lists and practical advice. Lyrical journal entries and rich photography of Alexander’s former sheep field emphasise her loose, forgiving approach to gardening and eye for colour, texture and shape. Hardie Grant, £20

The Naturally Beautiful Garden by Kathryn Bradley-Hole

‘Keeps it light’: The Naturally Beautiful Garden.

For a book centred on ecologically friendly garden design principles (conserving water, reducing chemicals, supporting wildlife), The Naturally Beautiful Garden manages to keep it light with sumptuous photography from over 30 gardens across the world. Each project – be it a cactus garden on an ancient estate in Sicily, or the sepia grasses of Norfolk’s Bressingham in winter – demonstrates how their makers have managed to work with, rather than against, nature. The book is organised into six chapters to show how each garden has adapted not only to their specific environment, but to serve diverse needs – from public sanctuaries to sprawling country estates, to inner city courtyards. Rizzoli, £45

Bedside Companion for Gardeners by Jane McMorland Hunter

‘Perfect under-the-duvet reading’: Bedside Companion for Gardeners.

Described as “an anthology of garden writing for every night of the year”, this makes perfect under-the-duvet reading for weary gardeners. It is a free-form mix of fact, fiction, dreams and hard-won experience that combines poetry, prose and advice from (ghosts of) gardeners past and present. Compare Mrs Earle and Ethel Case’s advice on building a bird table, from their 1912 book, Gardening for the Ignorant (“A long fir pole is the principal thing needed…”) with the extract from Gertrude Jekyll’s 1899 classic and influential book, Wood and Garden (“There is always in February one day, at least, when one smells the yet distant, but surely coming, summer…”) and you get an idea of this pleasing piece of horticultural literature. Pavilion Books, £20.

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