Should You Buy Garden Books?

Reading-NakamuraoIt’s an honest question. After all, with the plethora of information and fabulous garden photographs available with the click of a mouse on the internet, who needs to spend money on books that will gather dust on a shelf?

You might find that one well written book saves you hours of time when trying to pinpoint a skill set, or placement of a new plant. This is more than simply liking the feel and smell of a printed hardcover book in your hand (although the pleasure of that is not to be underrated).

Here are a few reasons I think good garden books will not go out of style, and cannot be replaced by Kindle eBooks, or even websites like mine:

  • Curation and collation. The information that you are looking for is out there on the internet…. somewhere. It may not be all that easy to find, or if you do find the information you need, it is not always written by someone who truly has expertise on the subject. On the internet, there are many newbies who just like to write, and they are good at it, but they don’t really know much about gardening. A good book puts it all together for you, in one handy place, written by someone that you have come to know understands gardening, and perhaps your garden in particular. Find those books, locate those authors. Then go ahead and buy their books for your bookshelves.
  • Ditto can be said for resource book, such as the type that profile your plants. Nothing beats that for a quick reference on everything to remember when choosing a shrub or planting a perennial in that sunny dry border or on the North side of the house. Phone apps are fine for shopping trips to the local nursery, but a well researched book is better for planning your garden or quick reference after you returned home with your new treasures.
  • Sometimes the internet connections go out, electric power is down, and a book is nonplussed by that event.
  • Diagrams, photos, plans are all easily marked up or simply studied (if you are not the type to “deface” your books).  I think the web resources and those of hardcopy books can be complementary in this case. One will serve well, where the other one doesn’t.
  • If your book is portable (some reference books are bulky), you can easily go out into the yard and sit in a shady spot while reading. You can walk by the area you wish to plant and consult your book in hand for the information you need.
  • Give your eyes a rest. It can be tiresome and eye straining to sit in front of the computer when all you want are a few pieces of information or an interesting read.

Because there are some very fine garden writers, and exceptional collections of photographs to be found within books, I think that a well loved library shelf of garden books that are inspirational and practical is a necessity. I guess you could say that I think we should be ‘Well Read Gardeners’. Just as informed on our subject and the literature of our field as anyone else.

No, you don’t need that to be an excellent and talented plantsman/woman. And you don’t need to have read ‘The Secret Garden’ as a child, either. Or anything else that adds to the richness of understanding other cultures, worlds and times, but I think garden books are a way to access garden skill and plant information in a way that the internet has yet to replace.

So, if you ask me, I will tell you there are good reasons to buy a number of  the best of gardening books. This is my list of reasons, can you think of more? Why do you buy a garden book?