Planning Your 2015 Garden?

Winter is always a wonderful time to browse seed catalogues and gardening books while waiting for the warm spring weather to arrive. Are you planning a garden for 2015? Frances Lincoln Publishers sent me a series of gardening books this winter for review.  Here are five of my favorite books from their collection to inspire your garden this season and beyond.

1)  I was really excited to get Sarah Raven's Cutting Garden Journal in the mail because I'm an avid journal keeper. I journal about everything, including my garden and planting schedule. It's a great way to know when I sowed certain seeds, what the weather was doing at a certain time of year and when my plants flowered (or died). Sarah Raven's Cutting Journal is a treasure trove of flora and fauna. Sarah Raven walks gardeners through the year sharing invaluable information about sowing, growing and properly harvesting flowers month-by-month. The photos are gorgeous and of course, since this is a journal, there is ample space for your own notes and observations.

A page from Sarah Raven's Cutting Garden Journal: A Year of Beautiful Cot Flowers

2)  In Great Gardens of America, leading garden historian Tim Richardson explores twenty-five of America's best-loved and most interesting gardens. The book is richly photographed by Andrea Jones and provides page after page of inspiration. Granted, these gardens are the cumulative of a life time of care and vision, but there is great value in examining our country's garden masterworks. I especially loved Steve Martino's Baja Garden (pictured below) in Phoenix, Arizona. Many of the gardens featured in Richardson's book are open to the public, so this is a great travel guide as well!

A page from Great Gardens of America

3)  I have long had an obsession with the work of Frank Lloyd Wright. His homes and public spaces are a part of my inner being - a sort of American birthright. This is one reason why I was particularly thrilled to receive a copy of Derek Fell's book The Gardens of Frank Lloyd Wright. This book explores the relationship between landscape and structure, nature and man's handmade dwellings. As James van Sweden writes in the forward to this book, "Wright's was committed to marrying the house to the land. Confident and unafraid to obscure his architectural designs with trees or to create bold splashes of color with plants, he created layers of beauty that resulted in a seamless exchange between inside and out." This book has made me think more about my own home and how it interacts with my outdoor spaces.

A page from The Gardens of Frank Lloyd Wright

4)  4)  Royal Horticultural Society Companion to Scented Plants by Stephen Lacey is a classic gardening title which introduces the fundamental aspects of design with fragrant plants, and explains how to achieve effects that please the eye as well as the sense of smell. There are chapters on structural planting with trees and shrubs, herbaceous borders and ground cover, walled gardens and vertical planting, rock and water gardens, rose and herb gardens and gardening under glass. A comprehensive catalogue describes over 1000 scented plants to grow for their fragrance as well as beauty. This is the only major reference work on scent and scented plants and is endorsed by the Royal Horticultural Society.

A page from Royal Horticultural Society Companion to Scented Plants.

5)  The First Ladies of Gardening: Pioneers, Designers and Dreamers by landscape architect and writer Heidi Howcraft, is far and away my favorite of the five books. It introduces the reader to a wonderful array of visionary women who pioneered contemporary English garden design. Howcroft writes beautifully about these women (Vita Sackville-West, Beth Chatto, Margery Fish, Beatrix Havergal and more...) revealing their gardening secrets and lasting legacies. These cottage gardens are the stuff of dreams. The photos by Marianne Majerus are especially evocative, showcasing lush garden vistas as well as smaller details of the gardens. The First Ladies of Gardening is a gorgeous coffee table book and I'm so happy to have it in my library!

A page from The First Ladies of Gardening: Pioneers, Designers and Dreamers