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My Bookshelf

The following books are from my own personal bookshelf at home. They are books that I love and wanted to share with you. I hope this page inspires you to read them. If you want to purchase any of these books, can I suggest that you contact your local independent bookstore (support local!) to see if they have a copy.

I have not received any payments or sponsorship of any kind in relation to these recommendations. The books were either purchased by me or given to me as gifts from wonderful friends and family, who know my two passions in life are gardening and reading.

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Your Wellbeing Garden

Authors: Alistair Griffiths & Matt Keightley

With so much focus on the importance of mental health I thought this book would be a good suggestion & definitely one to add to your bookshelf.  It’s a really well structured book that aims to help you to create a garden that’s good for you. It’s broken down into four categories The Protective Garden, The Healing Garden, The Nourishing Garden & The Sustainable Garden. This helps you to pin point or dip in & out depending on what you are looking to establish in your garden.

 

It’s not a book that you have to read from cover to cover (although I would recommend that you do because it’s a great read & you will pick up information that you didn’t even know would be relevant to you and your garden).

 

It offers both sketch illustrations & wonderful photography. I had expected that I would be more interested in the sustainable garden section but in truth the healing section appealed to me most and I found I got the most inspiration from this.

 

It is definitely a book I will be referring back to for many years to come I’m sure.

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emiy dickinson's gardening life

Author: Marta McDowell

This was a book that was on my ‘want to read’ list and a very good friend of mine gave it to me as a gift. I didn’t know what to expect as I didn’t really know anything about Emily Dickinson and I don’t even think I’d ever read any of her poems. But I found it an intriguing read not simply because it’s always interesting to discover how people garden but in this case to learn a little bit about how people gardened in 1800’s.

 

It was fascinating to learn that not much has changed other than the fact that everything in the garden had a purpose, whether it be food, perfume, medicinal and pleasure and gratitude was found in those plants too. This seems less important to us nowadays, we each don’t think about preserving or storing much for the winter because once it’s gone we know we can purchase more from the supermarket. 

 

But I found it inspiring and want to be more respectful and knowledgable about the plants that I grow.

 

The only thing I didn’t connect with is the poetry but I will keep working on that!

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grow
Author: RIZ REYES

Not only is this the most beautifully illustrated children's book I've ever read but it was a joy to read it to my (then) eight month old baby boy (starting him off young). It was a great reminder for me to go back to the basics of plants and growing. I really started to give more thought about what I'm growing for, whether it's beauty, 

companionship, flavour, medicinal uses or for pollinators. The book covers 15 plants and fungi each with their own fascinating history as well as introducing you to some of their relatives. And of course it teaches your young grower how to grow them. If you have a young grower in your household this is a book I firmly recommend to have on your bookshelf and if you don't buy it anyway and enjoy all the little things you didn't know or had forgotten.

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THE LITTLE BOOK OF CACTI
Author: Emma Sibley

Let me start by saying the full title of the book is ...cacti and other succulents. It's an incredibly attractive book and has encouraged me to enjoy and collect more of these houseplants. It's thanks to this book that I was able to create the right conditions to encourage my String of Hearts (Ceropegia Woodii) to flower. The book looks at individual plants and what conditions best suit them from, light, watering, pruning, potting and even what to watch out for. The plants are beautifully photographed and it's an easy book to flip through for quick answers to your cacti questions.

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REWILD YOUR GARDEN
Author: FRANCES TOPHILL

In light of celebrating 

International Women's Day this week I wanted to share with you this brilliant book. This book is perfect for the gardner that wants to create a haven for wildlife. The book explains the benefits of introducing wildlife into your garden and the importance of having a healthy balanced eco system. It's a wonderfully easy read and beautifully illustrated book. It includes ideas for all spaces whether they be small balconies or large open garden spaces, its an uplifting and motivational book to enable you to discover the joy of wildlife in your garden.

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RHS Practical House Plant Book
Authors: Fran Bailey & Zia Allaway

At this time of year our attention moves from our gardens to our houseplants and this is a great book to get you started.

 

Featuring more than 175 detailed plant profiles explaining the best growing conditions, as well as expert plant care and instruction. It covers everything you need to consider to design the perfect houseplant display, scale, shape, colour, texture, light, humidity, space, wellbeing and even understanding containers.

 

There are a whole bunch of projects to help you on your way and even a section on how to propagate, I can't recommend this book enough.

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THE JEWEL GARDEN
Author: MONTY & SARAH DON

I know I’m a big advocate of Monty Don and I have recommended a few of his books but this is such a powerful read. Not only does it discuss gardening but it also touches on mental health issues that Monty has personally battled with. Monty has always been so open about his mental health issues and what a positive impact gardening has had.

 

What’s interesting and very poignant about the book is that you are also reading from Sarah’s point of view. She shares her thoughts and feelings about what it’s like to love and live with someone suffering with depression, whilst trying to build and create a new home. 

It’s an incredibly honest book, with real insight and I found it very inspiring.

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Walks In The Wild
Author: Peter Wohlleben

Everything about this book entices me in.

The author of course, Peter Wohlleben author of the bestselling book The Hidden Life of Trees, which has also featured on our bookshelf. Peter's style of writing is simply enchanting and I was excited to read more.

 

I adore forests and woodlands, more so now that I'm a volunteer and trustee at an arboretum. There is something about being in that space that just feels comforting. This is not unusual, given what I've read this is a primal feeling going back to days when we would use these areas for protection and shelter so naturally we feel at home.

And after reading just a few pages, it really makes you want to get out and explore the magic of nature.

Even the jacket design and illustration by Two Associates is a triumph for me and I love the warm Autumnal orange of the book itself.

VEG IN ONE BED BY HUW RICHARDS
Veg In One Bed
Author: Huw Richards

This book was a gift from my Secret Santa and it's so good.

It starts with the basics of how to make your raised bed and then how to start planning your planting. Full of great diagrams that show you month by month what will be in your raised bed and plenty of ideas about companion planting and successional sowing. It has detailed sections on what veg is best suited to cool climates, low rainfall and even options for low effort veg beds.

If like me you are the type to plan and organise your patch months ahead, this book is for you.

GARDENING ON A SHOESTRING BY ALEX MITCHE
Gardening on a Shoestring
Author: Alex Mitchell

I often joke that my entire life is just one big budget, so the very title of this book appealed to me enormously. The book is filled with tips and tricks to enable you to make the very most of what you have. Another of my passions is up-cycling and this book has some great suggestions, many of which I can testify actually work.

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Down to Earth
Author: Monty Don

This is one of my all time favourites. The book is beautifully written with capturing photographs and a unique layout. It’s a brief insight into 50 years of gardening experience with tips and essential gardening knowledge. It covers many aspects of gardening and offers recommended jobs to be done in the garden month by month. 

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Grow Tall Sid

Author: Debra Wellington

It's not often I recommend children's books but this one was gifted to my one year old and it is just so incredibly charming that I had to add it to the shelf. 

Those of you with small children will really appreciate this one. Sid is a sunflower and he wants to bloom just like the other flowers and the book follows his journey from tiny seed to full bloom. The author has managed to capture that magical moment when a tiny seed grows to its full potential and it's very sweet. Teaching our children the life cycle of growing plants, whilst having fun.

 

We are very much encouraging our son to learn about plants, food and the earth they grow in. It's vital that we teach our children the importance of eco systems and this book helps to do just that. 

You can find this book at www.theanimalsays.co.uk or you can find Debra on Instagram @theanimalsays

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secrets of a devon wood

Author: Jo Brown

I quite often begin or at least mention how beautifully illustrated books are but this one is an incredible achievement. Professional illustrator Jo Brown captures birds, insects, flowers and fungi in this enchanting nature journal. It's the type of book that makes you want to go out for a walk and observe nature.

I simply can't say enough wonderful things about it, you just have to go out and buy it to experience it for yourself. But I warn you it is not an easy book to put down and when you do, you will find it still lingering in your mind just how beautifully Jo has captured some very interesting discoveries.

It's definitely a book to keep referring back to and has inspired me to capture and record more of what is happening in the natural world around me (albeit probably not as beautifully as Jo has in her journal).

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PLANT NAMES SIMPLIFIED
Author: A.T JOHNSON

I think everyone has to have a least one old classic on the bookshelf (maybe more if you are lucky). This one I picked up at RHS Wisley library over five years ago for £2 and it's a real gem. It originally belonged to R Gould in 1935 and I know this because he wrote it in the book (beautiful penmanship). It was printed and published by W H & L Collingridge Ltd (London) after doing a brief search I'm not sure if this is still an active publisher but the next time I'm in London I might just go on a hunt for it. The book has a lovely forward written  by A J Macself who I believe was the assistant editor of Amateur Gardening magazine. There's something a bit special about having an old book like this which you simply don't get from new publications and it's a joy to have on the shelf.

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LIFE IN A COTTAGE GARDEN
Author: carol klein

I have a few books by Carol Klein but this is one of my favourites and something that I aspire to (well who doesn't want to live in a cottage garden?!). Not only is Glebe Cottage situated in Devon (as am I) but the romance of building a garden from scratch is really captured in this book. The photography by Jonathan Buckley is stunning and quite often I find myself just flicking through to get lost amongst the pictures. The book's chapters are divided into months of the year like most gardening books tend to be, which is brilliant for a read along throughout the year.

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Red Hot Chilli Grower
Author: Kay Maguire

There are many reasons why I would recommend this book, 1) it's fun & the illustrations have an energy about them 2) it offers some great tips and advice which is useful whether you are an avid chilli grower like me or whether you are just starting out 3) It's not just a 'how to' there is more depth than that it goes into detail about the history of the chilli, how it’s travelled the globe and why people love it so much 4) as well as giving great growing advice it also includes how you can eat and preserve chillies, everything from smoking them, to drying, making a chilli ristra, pickling and freezing (yes you can freeze chillies!)

 

It really does cover everything, which I guess is why it’s the ‘complete guide to planting, picking and preserving chillies’ so get yourself a copy and enjoy the beauty of growing chillies.

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The Veg Grwoers Almanac
Author: Martyn Cox

I noticed that a lot of you gardeners on social media were reading this one and I have to say it’s a really good read. Split into helpful month by month chapters consisting of planning, planting, growing tips and advice. I’m always keen to learn more about gardening and this gave me exactly that in a really organisation fashion. I especially enjoyed the ‘Did You Know?’ sections of the books and learnt a great many things. It also includes a super easy ‘When to sow and plant chart’ at the very end of the book. The great thing about this book is that you can quickly turn to the month and double check whether there is anything you’ve forgotten to do or should be planning to do for the following month. And did I mention it’s the perfect size to accompany you to the allotment!

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Witch’s Garden
Author: Sandra Lawrence

This was a surprise gift from my husband and it has to be one of my favourites. The book is a fascinating read and beautifully illustrated and confirms to me the power of plants. It was a joy reading about all the old folklore surrounding trees, plants and even the seasons.

 

I’ve learnt so much about the everyday plants that I grow such as basil and garlic and I’ve discovered properties they have that I didn’t know about before. I’ve learnt more about how plants were used in traditional medicines, the connect they have in astrology and all the secrets of stillroom, which was something I wasn’t familiar with and this year I’ve spent more time harvesting herbs from the garden and drying them, so this was an interesting chapter to delve into. For those of you who are thinking it’s a little too mystical for me, don’t be put off it’s actually an incredible read from a botanical point of view with a splash of folklore thrown in for those of us who are fascinated by all things magic!

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My Roots
Author: Monty Don

Brilliant writing from Monty Don. This book is incredibly insightful and poetic.

The book covers a decade of gardening life taken from articles written for the Observer but laid out month by month. I love the structure of the book, it's a really interesting way of organising the collection.

A very fun and inspiring read. Something I can read over and over again, but equally as easy to pick up and flick to a passage to read for a daily dose of gardening wisdom.

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Indoor Edible Garden
Author: Zia Allaway

I love to grow my own edibles and I haven’t always had a garden to do that in. This book has been and still remains to be an inspiration of what’s possible.

 

I urge everyone to try and grow something, chilli pepper, herbs, salad leaves, even root vegetables in your home, this book will show you how!

 

There are still some fantastic ideas I really want to try, like the Cucumbers on wheels...page 149!

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The Thrifty Gardener
Author: Alys Fowler

I think this book sums me up entirely. It was a real eye opener and it made so much sense to me that gardening should be “something you do, not something you buy”. The book has a great section on “skip-diving etiquette” which I love and a fantastic chapter on “No-Garden Gardening” which has some great suggestions for those of you who want to grow but don’t have a garden. The book itself is beautiful, in colour tones that just soothe. The whole book is very relaxed and will start to make you look at things and say “that would make an excellent pot for the garden”.

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Fork to Fork Journal

Author: Monty & Sarah Don

I've had this book for many years now and I always love referring back to it, especially at this time of year when I started harvesting my food.

I think this may have been once of the first books of Monty's that I actually bought and I've been hooked ever since. It's amazing to look back and see how long meadow has changed. 

But I digress, the book is structured as you would imagine by month with the usual Monty level of detail about how to first cultivate your food and then mouth watering recipes once you've grown it and harvested it. It really is an inspiring book and it even has space for you to journal your way along the growing adventure.

Like so many people I'm sure, I'm utterly inspired by Monty & Sarah Don and what they achieve in their garden but also their approach to gardening, I do wish that they would produce a journal like this again, I'd certainly be glad to add it to my shelf.

DO/GROW/START WITH 10 SIMPLE VEGETABLES BY ALICE HOLDEN
Do/Gow/ Start with 10 simple vegetables

Author: Alice holden

This book really breaks down the very essence of growing your own produce. And regardless of space or experience everyone can do it. Something Alice points out quite early on in the book, that this is something we have been doing for thousands of years and we are all very capable of doing it.

 

I found myself agreeing a lot with the author and feeling quite envious of all her experience working with the land. We also share love and respect for soil which I think officially makes us best friends.

 

I would definitely recommend this book to both the novice who wants to know where to begin and to the experienced gardener who could use a reminder of how important it is to simply grow.

 

The book has everything recipes, grower commandments a garden calendar and a wonderful section on companion plants, which I want to explore more of this year.

 

A quote from the book…‘Waste only happens when we don’t harness and recycle that which is valuable.’

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THE MODERN GARDENER
Author: FRANCES TOPHILL

I was hooked immediately after reading the introduction! I don't think there could have been a more appropriate book for me. It ticks all the boxes relating to how I wish to garden. The first chapter is 'Wildlife & Eco-friendly Gardening' what a perfect way to begin. And whilst I started the book saying "yes!" in relation to how we all should be working with nature, there were many sections that I learnt something new. I especially enjoyed the chapters on Apothecary & Plant Dyes & Fabrics of which I have little knowledge. The book is beautifully written and there is even a section where Frances talks about plastics. The photography is just divine, the entire book is a triumph I would highly recommend.

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THE GIRL'S GUIDE TO GROWING YOUR OWN
Author: ALEX MITCHELL

Following on from International Women's Day, here is another female fun read. This book was a gift from my good friend Laura. It's aimed as a guide for "absolute beginners" and "modern women" (whatever that is these days, is somewhat explained in the sub title of "How to grow fruit & veg without getting your hands too dirty" which always makes me chuckle). I love how it's illustrated and it really took me back to the basics, reminding me of why I love to grow my own produce and of course to have as much fun as possible along the way.  

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Working with Nature
Author: Jeremy Purseglove

Not strictly a gardening book but certainly a must for the bookshelf. 
 
A fascinating read from an interesting perspective, the author shares his experience working as an environmentalist in the water industry, helping to pioneer a new approach to reducing floods and also for an engineering company to promote practical development while enhancing wetlands, forests and flower-rich meadows. 
 
The book really does take you across the globe. Here is a passage from the book which I found quite powerful “In the end nature will always survive the ravages of humanity and it will be humans who will be the victims of the natural world which they abuse.”

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RHS Practical Latin for Gardeners
Author: James Armitage

My husband bought me this book and I have to say I do have a soft spot for Latin plant names.
 
The book is beautifully illustrated and brilliantly broken down into helpful chapters, such as colours, plant form and places to help you understand and make new connections to the the Latin names. Containing 1500 of the most useful and widespread Latin names, it also helps with the pronunciation (something I always struggle with) there’s even brief guide to help you use the book correctly. This is a perfect book for those of you who find the Latin directories of plant names a bit too heavy, this is a handy pocket-size alternative to wonder around gardens with.



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Shinrin-Yoku
Author: Dr Qing Li

I’ve always loved being around trees. I enjoy walking amongst them, being emerced in the smells and noises. Feeling a sense of calm and relaxing underneath their canopy. 

 

But what I didn’t realise was that this was a practise and that there is science behind what I was feeling every time I stepped into a forest or woodland. This book is hugely fascinating for that aspect alone but it also offers insight into mental health and the dangers we face when we are unconnected from nature.

And you don't need to live near a forest or woodland, this is a practise that is accessible to everyone which you can do in a park.

The book is beautifully written and although there is a lot of science behind the research it's written in a way that is easy to digest and understand. 

It’s a fantastic read and I would highly recommend it. 

THE HIDDEN LIFE OF TREES BY PETER WOHLLE
The Hidden Life of Trees
Author: peter wohlleben

I am fascinated by this book, I've read it many times. I enjoy the language and the poetry used to describe these living organisms that we have relied on throughout history and still continue to take advantage of. There is an entire other world beneath of our feet and we don't even realise it. I love that trees have a secret life and the author is able to share this in such a way that it almost seems magical.

I have read a couple of books by this author and I have a couple more on my bookshelf waiting to be read. There is something in the way that he describes the trees, that makes you want to get lost, both in the book and in nature.














ALLOTMENT MONTH BY MONTH BY ALAN BUCKING
Allotment Month by Month
Author: Alan Buckingham

This is a fantastic comprehensive step by step guide for allotment growers. It covers everything from weather seasons, plot layouts and crop rotation.

 

It also includes a section on crop planning by product, which is a quick reference guide that I love to keep referring back to.

 

There is also a great trouble shooting section and occasional ‘must-try’ suggestions which are great fun.

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Compost
Author: Ken Thompson

Dirt is one of my many passions in the garden and there is nothing better than producing your own compost. Taking waste material and turning it into ‘black gold’ is something every gardener should be doing. This is a great book to get you started on your composting adventure, I refer back to it all the time, it really is a ‘celebration of compost’.

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