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My current favorite summer garden book list

Most of us in Texas gardening are now indoors, reading our books and designing our fall plantings. Of course, my ideas are much bigger than I will eventually accomplish outside, spurred on by the books I’m reading. Here’s a couple of my favorites that I’m enjoying.

Designing and Planting Small Gardens, by Peter McHoy. “A practical guide to successful gardening in smaller spaces, with step-by-step techniques and more than 700 color photographs”.

So many “small garden” books seem to be filled with ideas that only work if you have an unlimited budget or an exotic locale that just happens to be on the small side. This book contains ideas that the everyday suburban gardener can easily incorporate. It’s easy to read, and contains many step-by-step instructions. The photos are gorgeous, but it isn’t just a coffee-table book of photos, it has real information in it. The only minor issue is that the author is from England, and some of the gardening tips don’t work in the Texas heat. At the same time, I was surprised at how many plants we do have in common, and because it’s well written, I can extrapolate and apply the principles to local plants. If you are already a masterful gardener, you might not need the info on plants. But it also has ideas for painting garden furniture, paths in the garden, and even painting container pots. It’s a fun idea book.


Designing with Succulents by Debra Lee Baldwin. This book is destined to be page-worn very soon. As a neophyte gardener of anything further than the basics, there are many ways to use plants that are new to me. I love the idea of utilizing non-cacti succulents for so many reasons: conserving water in our parched Central Texas land, conserving time because I won’t be out there every day trying to save something from dying in the heat, and the exotic looks of the leaves and blooms that these plants can offer.

Here’s one review: “…easy to understand writing style is user friendly to the backyard gardener, yet the breadth of information is just as appealing to the expert. Baldwin should be commended for what might be the best succulent landscaping book written to date.” Maureen Gilmer, host of Weekend Gardening

The author loves succulents, and gives beautiful ideas for which ones work well together, the habits of various species, and she even has gorgeous photos of some beautiful RED Aloe plants that are out there. I stayed up quite late last night reading this one, and it’s one of the few gardening books that I want to read every word and not just look at the pictures. A wonderful book! I can’t wait to put some of her suggestions into my garden.