Garden Gear - Gardening Books

Favourite gardening books

Horticultural experts across the country pick their favourite tomes

Some prefer the scientific doorstopper; for others, the more pictures, the better. Whatever they use, these horticultural experts need a resource with accurate information, since much of what they do trickles down to you—the home gardener. Here's where they go digging for answers to their gardening questions.

Brad Jalbert, Langley, B.C.
Owner, Select Roses; co-author, Roses for British Columbia and Roses for Washington and Oregon

“I reach for Peter Beales' Classic Roses, which gives me the information I want, like the parentage of various roses and the year they were introduced. The author has actually grown every rose listed in the book.”

Christine Perreault, Montreal
Horticultural consultant, Montreal Botanical Garden

Insects That Feed on Trees and Shrubs by Warren T. Johnson and Howard H. Lyon. It's a book I use almost every day when answering visitors' questions and giving them advice. Before treating a problem, it's important to identify the cause; this book describes the symptoms of a problem and shows insects at various stages of their
life cycle.”

Alexander Reford, Grand-Métis, Que.
Director, Reford Gardens

Botanica North America by Marjorie Harris. I have been doing research on what is native and what is not, and this is very complete regarding the plants' origins and range. My staff and I have been using it at Reford Gardens for our inventory to ensure that what we think is native actually is.”

Hugh Skinner, Roblin, Man.
Owner, Skinner's Nursery; plant propagator; co-author, Best Trees and Shrubs for
the Prairies

“The one I've had for some time is Wyman's Gardening Encyclopedia by Donald Wyman. It has answers to such a large variety of questions. And for general information on growing requirements and what might survive in Manitoba, it's the one I go to first. Wyman was a curator at the Arnold Arboretum of Harvard University, and his work is very well researched and laid out.”

Marjorie Mason, Uxbridge, Ont.
Owner, Mason Hogue Gardens

“For information on trees and shrubs, I go to Dirr's Hardy Trees and Shrubs by Michael A. Dirr because it talks about the negatives as well as the positives about each plant. For information on perennials, I go to John M. Valleau's Perennial Gardening Guide because it's up-to-date, concise and lists plants available in Canada. If I have to search further, I use Allan M. Armitage's Herbaceous Perennial Plants or Armitage's Manual of Annuals, Biennials, and Half-Hardy Perennials, both of which contain in-depth information written with a sense of humour.”

Wilf Nicolls, St. John's
Director, Memorial University of Newfoundland Botanical Garden

“Working in a botanical garden, I reach for Hortus Third, published by the L.H. Bailey Hortorium. It's an encyclopedia of all plants grown in North America. I tend to look up plants rather than techniques. It's still one of the best treatises—and only 1,200 pages! I refer to it almost every day. Well thumbed, well used.”

Bernard Jackson, Truro, N.S.
On-site coordinator, Nova Scotia Agricultural College Rock Garden;
former director, Memorial University of Newfoundland Botanical Garden

“I reach for Rock Gardening: A Guide to Growing Alpines and Other Wildflowers in the American Garden by H. Lincoln Foster. He's the king of rock gardening in North America. I like specialized books. Everybody should grab an old copy of this.”

Ed Lawrence, Almonte, Ont.
Horticultural specialist and gardening expert on CBC Radio One's Ontario Today

“I go with Pascal P. Pirone's Diseases and Pests of Ornamental Plants for specific plant problems because it's thorough yet concise. For plant information, I use Manual of Cultivated Plants by L.H. Bailey because the author has done his homework and it includes full and worthwhile information. The more I use it, the more I like it.”

Marjorie Willison, Halifax
CBC Radio's Maritime
Noon gardening expert; author of two gardening books, including Easy
Garden Planning

“It's East Coast Gardener (formerly known as The Complete Gardener's Almanac), which I wrote, because it has the kind of information I needed when I first started gardening. Even now, it reminds me what to do every month in all areas of gardening and helps me cut back on maintenance time.”

Sara Williams, Grasswood, Sask.
Retired horticultural specialist, University of Saskatchewan; author, Creating the Prairie Xeriscape, co-author, Best Trees and Shrubs for the Prairies

“The series I most treasure is the Standard Cyclopedia of Horticulture by L.H. Bailey, published by the Arnold Arboretum of Harvard University, 1917 edition. My dad gave it to me when I got my degree in horticulture. I find answers on esoteric things I don't find anyplace else, such as information about plants that are no longer commonly sold by most nurseries.”

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