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Digging Dirt 101: General Gardening Resources

Books on gardening with some specific to North Carolina.

Getting in the Mood: Writings on Gardening

Gardening From the Heart: Why Gardeners Garden by Carol Olwell
This is a book to treasure. Twenty-one gardeners talk about the pleasures and satisfactions that gardening brings. The interviews are arranged by how each one sees her or his garden as paradise, as provider, as teacher, and as healer. With lovely color pictures of both the gardens and the gardeners, this book makes me feel like I’ve made new friends.

Green Thoughts: A Writer in the Garden by Eleanor Perenyi
Written with wit and charm, covering both practical and philosophical matters, this is a pithy and practical classic. A book to read and reread.

America’s Cottage Gardens: Imaginative Variations on the Classical Garden Style by Patricia Thorpe
Across the nation tour of historic and contemporary cottage gardens.

Gertrude Jekyll on Gardening by Gertrude Jekyll
Not a “how to”, but a “how to think” about gardening by one of the greatest garden designers and garden writers of all time. All of her other books are wonderful, but be warned, plants that do well in England rarely do well in North Carolina!

In Search of Lost Roses by Thomas Christopher
A magical chase to locate the “lost” roses of our great grandmothers’ gardens through graveyards and ghost towns. Catch the excitement of “rose rustling.”

Grandmother’s Gardens: The Old-Fashioned American Garden 1865-1919 by Mary Brawley Hill
Lovely water colors and old photographs illustrate this history of home gardening and women’s influence on the art.

Landscaping: Thinking Before Digging

The Natural Shade Garden by Ken Druse
A beautiful book that gives gardeners a vision of how lovely a shade garden can be. Many different plantings are shown, and some technical information on culture and maintenance is given.

Easy Care Shade Flowers by Patricia Taylor
Good guide for growing specific plants, with an emphasis on wildflowers.

Gardening with Groundcovers and Vines by Allen Lacy
Anything Lacy writes is good, and this practical guide is no exception. With landscaping ideas and plant lists, this is a most useful book.

The Front Garden: New Approaches to Landscape Design by May Riley Smith
Often the front yard is the most boring part of the landscape. Here are ideas to transform it into a beautiful space for flowers and/or edibles. This book has great pictures and practical ideas than can transform any front yard into a garden wonder.

The Complete Guide to Landscape Design, Renovation and Maintenance: A Practical Handbook for the Home Landscape Gardener by Cass Turnbull
This book is an absolutely delightful read. The first chapter "Gardening is a virus" talks about the addictive nature of gardening in the funniest, truest way I’ve ever read. And no matter what state your yard is in, this book is both an inspiration and a practical guide. The chapters on pruning are wonderful. Ms. Turnbull is the founder of PlantAmnesty, whose mission is “to end the senseless torture and mutilation of trees and shrubs.”

General Gardening

Uncommon Fruits Worthy of Attention: A Gardener’s Guide by Lee Reich
Not your usual how-to book, rather almost a prose poem to many forgotten fruits that do well without a lot of disease or insect problems. Included are juneberries, oriental and native persimmons, medlar, and jujube.

The Garden Primer by Barbara Damrosch
An instant classic. Written with a great love for gardening, the focus is on gardening for food, but the book includes chapters on ornamentals and garden planning.

Gardening: the complete Guide to Growing America’s Favorite Fruits & Vegetables by the National Gardening Association
Beautiful enough for your coffee table, yet indispensable in the garden. From the publishers of National Gardening magazine.

The National Gardening Association’s Guide to Kids’ Gardening by Lynn Ocone
For younger gardeners – is one of the best.

How to Grow More Vegetables Than You Ever Thought Possible On Less Land Than You Can Imagine: A Primer On the Life-Giving Biointensive Method of Organic Horticulture by John Jeavons
This is the 1991 edition of the bible of intensive, double-dug gardening. Some Carolina gardeners swear by this method as the only way to get our clay to become rich, deep loam, Others worry that our clay soil structure is easily wrecked by this technique if the soil is not dry enough. But all gardeners would do well to read this classic on raised bed gardening.

The New Organic Grower: A Master’s Manual of Tools and Techniques From the Home and Market Gardener by Eliot Coleman
This book may make you dream of starting you own market garden! It is also full of practical advice on tools and techniques that seem like common sense yet are very innovative. A very important gardening book. Also of interest is Coleman’s The New Organic Grower’s Four Season Harvest: How to Harvest Fresh Organic Vegetables From Your Home Garden All Year Long.