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Get Gardeners Books For Christmas Gifts
By Norman Winter
Central Mississippi Research & Extension Center
There are two things gardeners can't get enough of, besides plants: You can't have too many pruning shears or gardening books. A good book on gardening or plants may be the easiest and best gift for the gardener on your list.
My favorite book on perennials is Perennial Garden Color by Dr. William C. Welch. It is available from Taylor Publishing. This is one the most informative, beautiful and interesting books on perennials.
A regular visitor to Mississippi, Dr. Welch is also the author of the best book on old garden roses called Antique Roses for the South. With hundreds of antique roses back on the market, you'll want to know which ones are indeed disease resistant, which ones repeat bloom and how to use them in the landscape. He also gives great ideas on arranging and making potpourri, jams and jellies.
Both Perennial Garden Color and Antique Roses for the South are suitable for the coffee table, as much as the bookshelf.
My favorite herb book is written by Madeline Hill and Gwen Barclay and is called Southern Herb Growing. It is available through Shearer Publishing. This is the most beautiful herb book around and has in-depth information on growing, harvesting, storing and using herbs.
The book that I find the best in helping me identify native plants is Trees, Shrubs and Woody Vines of the Southwest. Don't let the word "southwest" fool you, as it is applicable to all of the Southeast, too. This book has been out for many years but is still considered a must for serious horticulturists. You will not find pretty pictures but detailed line drawings that have helped me untold times. It is available through the University of Texas Press.
I probably rely on the Manual of Woody Landscape Plants by Michael Dirr the most when I want to know how a tree or shrub performs in our area. There is a new version hot off the press that has hundreds of new plants. For instance, in the last version lorapetalum was hardly mentioned and now pages of new varieties are listed as well as a critique on their performance. It is a superior reference book and is available from the University of Georgia Press.
My favorite reference book for perennials is Herbaceous Perennial Plants by Allan Armitage, published by University of Georgia. Available from Stipes Publishing, it is loaded with more than 1,100 pages on how perennials perform, and how to grow and propagate them.
Another reference book that serious horticulturists need is called Identification, Selection and Use of Southern Plants for Landscape Design. This was written by another frequent visitor and speaker in Mississippi, Dr. Neil Odenwald, and co-authored with James Turner. Available from Claitor's Publishing Division, this book gives a clear look at the landscape value of Southern plants as well as their preferred sites in the yard.