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Why Grow That When You Can Grow This?
By Melissa Ozawa
Even if the ground is frozen where you live, you can keep your green thumb occupied with a great gardening book. We rounded up our favorites from the past year into two categories: practical dig-in-the-dirt volumes and inspirational beauties to feed the imagination (even if you don't have a garden).
In this accessible book, Andrew Keys suggests 255 problem-solving alternatives to plants that, while popular, can be invasive or difficult to cultivate. (Think disease-prone boxwood and weedy burning bush.)
$25, Timber Press
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The Earth Moved
It may be sightless, spineless, and deaf, but the lowly earthworm is a dynamo in the garden, churning through the soil and combating plant disease. Amy Stewart brings its underground world to life in a newly updated edition of her fascinating and funny book, including content ranging from Darwin's early investigations to her own firsthand encounters.
$13, Algonquin Books
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Latin for Gardeners
Botanical Latin carries centuries of scientific history, informing us of everything from a plant's size and shape to its practical uses, dangers, and origins. Lorraine Harrison's dictionary is both comprehensive and beautifully illustrated.
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Drawing upon more than 30 years of experience, British gardening expert Bob Flowerdew has authored a six-book set on the essentials of organic gardening. Written in a clear, easy-to-follow style, the books are packed with step-by-step instructions for composting, weeding, pruning, sowing, feeding, watering, and controlling pests.
$15 per volume, Skyhorse Publishing
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Gardens for a Beautiful America, 1895-1935
At the turn of the 20th century, photographer Frances Benjamin Johnston traversed the country photographing the gardens of America's elite. Historian Sam Watters compiled 250 of her hand-colored, glass-plate lantern slides, not seen since the 1940s, creating a snapshot of America's horticultural history.
$220, Acanthus Press
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Barbara Paul Robinson took a sabbatical from her corporate-law job to apprentice with Rosemary Verey. Blending detailed research with personal experience, she has penned an in-depth account of the life and work of the designer who counted Prince Charles as a client and helped popularize the romantic style of English garden design.
$30, David. R. Godine
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The Roots of My Obsession
Thomas C. Cooper collected 30 essays by noted gardeners, including Martha Stewart Living's gardening editor Stephen Orr, whose "youthful predilection for larceny" and love of plants found him sneaking out to steal his favorite flowers.
$15, Timber Press
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Magnificent Trees of the New York Botanical Garden
Larry Lederman documents some of the most striking and significant trees in New York City's famous garden and one of the last vestiges of original forest in the city, capturing the sylvan setting in all seasons -- from blossom-heavy weeping cherries to white oaks frosted with snow.
$50, Monacelli Press
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William Blake found "heaven in a wild flower" and so, too, has writer Sarah Raven in this epic treatise. Weighing in at nearly six pounds, the encyclopedic volume features Jonathan Buckley's lush photographs and Raven's profiles of 500 plants that, though native to Great Britain, will be familiar to American readers.
$108, Bloomsbury USA
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