Gardeners love plants. This simple truth is most noticeable during the growing season. Trips to favorite local nurseries all too often take longer and involve more plants than planned. And, when we get our treasures back home, we then spend many hours planting perfect outdoor spaces.
Our love of plants does not wither and die during periods of high temperatures that make the act of gardening feel more like torture than romance, nor does it wash away during desert downpours or go dormant as our plants do when snow flies.
Instead, we read. Seed catalogs are one way gardeners make it through extreme Nevada weather. Another go-to are garden books. Sometimes, we do not even wait until the forecast goes awry to dive in.
For example, right now, I am reading four garden books! I spend some of my garden reading learning about plants I already have. Hopefully this means they will have long lives, and I will not have to do the walk of shame into my garden center for replacements.
Some of my reading is more proactive than that, if day dreaming plans for next year’s garden counts as working ahead.
If you would like to join me on my garden book journey, either to learn about what is happening in your garden now or to plan for your future garden, here is your summer reading list.
First, grab a copy of Dr. Linda Chalker-Scott’s book How Plants Work: The science behind the amazing things plants do. It helps people, even those of us without a science background, understand how plants work so we can be successful growing them. If you want to have a thriving garden or, like me, you are troubleshooting a struggling one, this book is essential.
Of course, The New Sunset Western Garden Book is on my night table. Like How Plants Work, this tome is invaluable. It presents a comprehensive list of plants that grow pretty well in western states. The climate zone maps and regional growing-season graphs help gardeners figure out what will work for us. I hope you already have a copy, but if not, stop by the store.
Water Wise: Native Plants for Intermountain Landscapes by Wendy Mee and others is another favorite of mine. In this book, you will discover which native plants grow well in garden settings and how to grow them. I have some of the plants featured in this book’s incredible photos, and reading about them helped me learn how to look after them. Water Wise is available free online at digitalcommons.usu.edu/usupress.
If growing fish and plants in the desert piques your interest, top off your garden book adventure with Aquaponic Gardening: A Step-By-Step Guide to Raising Vegetables and Fish Together by Sylvia Bernstein. It is the best how-to guide for do-it-yourselfers out there.
Need more garden books? Check out the American Horticultural Society’s Book Awards, online at ahsgardening.org/gardening-programs/national-awards/book-awards.
As always, if you happen upon gardening questions as you read, give us a shout. We are happy to help.
Ashley Andrews is the horticulture communications assistant with University of Nevada Cooperative Extension. Horticulture questions? Contact a Master Gardener at firstname.lastname@example.org or visit www.growyourownnevada.com.