Home & Garden

Holiday choices to please any reader with a green thumb

Need a few last-minute gift ideas for gardeners on your list?

Check out these books:


OK, not technically a book but close enough: "P. Allen Smith's Container Gardens: 50 Recipes for Year-Round Gardening" (Potter Style, $14.99) puts a year's worth of blooming ideas, divided by season, into a nifty little package. Smith's wonderful combinations will instruct those who are befuddled by containers, indoor or out (my hand is raised, high), but these ideas will inspire plant genies too. One card, toted to a garden center, should ensure success.


Vegetable gardening gained new devotees this year, and we hope that means home cooking has too. So we love that Dave DeWitt and Paul W. Bosland have brought the garden and kitchen together in "The Complete Chile Pepper Book: A Gardener's Guide to Choosing, Growing, Preserving and Cooking" (Timber Press, $29.95). A narrow topic, you say? Not with the 100 top varieties covered, and 85 convincing reasons (aka recipes) for embracing more than just our beloved jalapenos and serranos.


"Backyard Bird Secrets for Every Season" (Rodale, $21.95), released earlier this year, will help you build a bigger following of feathered friends - and friends they are, when you consider all the harmful insects that birds eat, thus protecting your plants and the greater world beyond. Author Sally Roth's practical, user-friendly advice takes a sensibly seasonal approach: Birds' needs vary, and - depending on their habitat - so do the types of birds you'll find in your corner of the world.


In "Beatrix Farrand: Private Gardens, Public Landscapes" (The Monacelli Press, $60), Judith B. Tankard celebrates the work of a prolific if low-profile American landscape architect. Farrand (1872-1959), who created many private gardens for Gilded Age society, also helped create landscapes for public spaces, including Yale and Princeton, and the New York and Santa Barbara, Calif., botanical gardens. She gets her due in this lovely coffee-table book filled with her meticulous plans, archival photographs and lovely illustrations.


"Avant Gardeners" (Thames & Hudson, $34.95), by Tim Richardson, is the garden-book equivalent of an amusement park. He profiles 50 designers and 100 of their thought-provoking projects around the world, capturing the whimsy, elegance and derring-do of these conceptual, forward-thinking individuals. Yes, some of these spaces are way, way out there. But for gardeners who are starting to yawn, this is a book to wake up to.