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The best gardening books to buy in 2022

Ian Evenden
24 Mar 2022
Best gardening book
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Hone your plant knowledge, nurture your budding skills and learn from the experts with our pick of the best gardening books

Settling down with one of the best gardening books is second only to doing the gardening itself, and in colder months may actually be preferable. While a lot of gardening is down to instinct and taste, there are still rules to follow and guidelines to be aware of – even if the first thing you do is to break them.

The other great thing you can get from a good book on gardening is inspiration. Staring out at the same backyard every day can get monotonous, so shaking it up every once in a while can be a refreshing experience. Colour and planting combinations you would never have thought of have been tried and tested by countless gardeners, and those who chose to write down their findings are doing a service to those who come after.

Whether you want to build hard features into your space, or just know what to plant for a brilliant floral display or a kitchen garden full of delicious herbs, there’s a book out there for you. Read on, and you’ll discover books on edible plants, garden design, allotments, flower gardening and everything besides.

The best gardening books to buy in 2022

1. RHS Encyclopedia of Gardening by Christopher Brickell (ed)

Price: £26 | Buy now from Amazon

Any time you use your phone to look up an unfamiliar plant you’ve stumbled across in a nursery, the chances are you’ll end up on the Royal Horticultural Society’s website. What better source, then, for information and inspiration than the society’s encyclopaedia?

A revised and updated version of the 20-year-old original, there’s little better for learning techniques and gardening concepts, from planting and pruning to propagation. With the combined experience of over 50 contributors, there’s step-by-step guidance on topics such as planting for pollinators and growing fruit and veg in containers.

It’s not a heavy read either – though the 720-page hardback edition could probably be put to use keeping the potting shed door open on a hot day – as there are over 400 new images to keep things visual. With something for everyone, there are few better books for the aspirant or experienced gardener.

2. A Pocketful of Herbs: An A-Z by Jekka McVicar

Price: £9.19 | Buy now from Amazon

The precise point at which gardening books and cookbooks cross over, A Pocketful of Herbs is a slender tome that packs in an enormous amount of information about herbs, how to grow them, and how to cook with them.

There’s little better than flavouring your food with a handful of herbs plucked fresh from your garden, and that’s the experience this book sets out to give you. Laid out in A-Z format so you can flick straight to chervil or tarragon (as long as you know their botanical names), there’s a lifetime’s knowledge about cultivating and consuming 400 different herbs, including a lot of varieties of thyme. And if you want more, check out Jekka’s Complete Herb Book by the same author.

3. Veg in One Bed: How to Grow an Abundance of Food in One Raised Bed, Month by Month by Huw Richards

Price: £12 | Buy now from Amazon

Growing your own veg is hugely popular right now, but not everyone has the space in their back garden or easy access to an allotment. One raised bed, however, is more easily within reach of small gardens, and this book takes you through the stages, month by month, of growing a variety of food in a way that won’t get in each other’s way.

It begins with the building process – raised beds don’t grow on trees, after all – assembling and filling your bed, then raising seedlings on a sunny windowsill before planting them out, growing them to maturity, and harvesting.

The author may look young, but he started his own gardening YouTube channel at the age of 12 and brings an enthusiasm and exuberance to his writing that can be missing from a great deal of garden literature.

4. Planting for Wildlife: A Grower’s Guide to Rewilding Your Garden by Jane Moore

Price: £8.95 | Buy now from Amazon

Rewilding doesn’t have to mean letting your lawn turn into a hay meadow and keeping frogs on your patio. As Moore’s superb book lays out, every little helps in the struggle to preserve and support native wild species, so simple things such as changing the way you plant, building a pond and finding out what wildlife wants can make a huge difference.

The collection of projects and ideas in the book is easily adapted to your garden, whatever the size, and whether you’re trying to go full organic or just make a little more space for earthworms, there will be something here to get your inner robin singing. The illustrations are joyful, too.

5. Allotment Month By Month: Grow your Own Fruit and Vegetables, Know What to do When by Alan Buckingham

Price: £13 | Buy now from Amazon

When you first get an allotment, it can feel like everyone else knows something you don’t, whether it’s the right time to plant turnips or the correct way to put up a shed. A book like this can help, with advice and guidance structured throughout the year.

The book can’t predict the weather, so you’ll have to use your own discretion when putting its advice into practice, but if you’re wondering when to get your runner beans started for an early summer crop, just look it up. There’s advice on pesticide use, updated information on unusual plant varieties, and pests and diseases too – including how to get rid of them.

Set out in a month-by-month format, this book will appeal particularly to beginners, but there will be something in here for allotment gardeners, and those who love to grow veg in their back gardens, of all skill levels.

6. The Well-Tempered Garden by Christopher Lloyd

Price: £14 | Buy now from Amazon

The title may not be all that inspiring, but this is a classic. Christopher Lloyd had the great fortune to be born in, and later inherit, Great Dixter, a house in East Sussex built by Edwin Lutyens.

The garden at the house became Lloyd’s great passion, and while he generally stuck to an arts and crafts style, the planting was dense, and there was always room for experiment in the form of unusual colour combinations and plant pairings. His chatty, humorous writing style would make the book enjoyable to read even if there weren’t essential gardening tips and opinions on every page.

Whether it’s water lilies, vegetables, flowers or magnolia trees you’re interested in, you’ll find something to suit your tastes.

7. Planting: A New Perspective by Piet Oudolf and Noel Kingsbury

Price: £30 | Buy now from Amazon

Garden design can be a very different thing from actual gardening, and Oudolf is a Dutch garden designer known for combinations of perennials and woody plants that are rich with textures and colours. His book shares his knowledge, explaining how a plant will behave in particular situations, which species make good neighbours, and what’s happening underground where you can’t see.

Combined with plans and charts, the book sets out what it takes to plant a naturalistic landscape and maintain it afterwards. There's an extensive plant directory, with extensive details about each plant mentioned, including its size, flowering season and ability to spread. Nobody reading it will be left in any doubt of the importance of nature to our lives.

8. Edible Plants: A Forager's Guide the Plants and Seaweeds of Britain, Ireland and Temperate Europe by Geoff Dann

Price: £25 | Buy now from Amazon

Foraging may not be gardening, but the number of edible plants in the UK and Europe is incredible, and by knowing what to look out for you’re in for a culinary treat or two.

In full colour and accompanied by photos throughout, the book points out the edible ornamental plants we grow in our gardens as well as every important poisonous species you should avoid. There are plenty of tips for preparation too, and the book covers seaweeds as well as flowering plants, nuts, cones and seeds.

There's a whole world of flavour and texture growing wild around us, and this book offers a window into it.

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