PEI

Gardening books to inspire your green thumb

Gardens across P.E.I. are coming alive — if you're looking for design inspiration, basic how-to's or plant identification there are plenty of books to help you with your green thumb.

Books offer design, planting and harvesting advice and colourful photos

Halifax author Niki Jabbour's new book Veggie Garden ReMix is a tasty read, says bookstore owner Dan MacDonald. (The Weekend Gardener with Niki Jabbour/Facebook)

Gardens across P.E.I. are coming alive — if you're looking for design inspiration, basic how-to's or plant identification there are plenty of books to help you with your green thumb. 

CBC convened a panel of experts with some recommended reading for garden enthusiasts — Dan MacDonald, owner of the Bookmark bookstore in Charlottetown, P.E.I. Library Service youth librarian Roseanne Gauthier and Victoria Goddard, an avid gardener and reader who owns the Charlottetown Cheese Company.   

Check out these books

Gauthier's first pick, for pre-schoolers, is Planting a Rainbow by Lois Ehlert, available in a board book or paperback and is a popular choice at the library.

Youth librarian Roseanne Gauthier says the colourful illustrations in Planting a Rainbow make it a popular book to check out of the library. ( HMH Books for Young Readers)

"This book is a really fun introduction to how plants start growing and then enjoying with your garden when it's finished," Gauthier said. In the vibrantly-coloured book, a child describes how they plant seeds and bulbs with their mother in the fall and how they grow and eventually bloom into a rainbow of colours.

"One of the things that children find really interesting is the idea that you start with a little seed and it can become a plant that you eat or this beautiful flower and that's a really exciting discovery," said Gauthier. 

It's a really beautiful book and the illustrations are absolutely magical.— Roseanne   Gauthier

Butterfly Park by Elly MacKay is a story about "community and belonging" in which the park plays a central role, said Gauthier. It follows a girl who has moved to a new town and is feeling lonely — she discovers a park next to her new home called Butterfly Park, which has no butterflies. 

"She is determined that she is going to have butterflies in Butterfly Park, and all of the things she does to try to get the butterflies to come to the park capture the imagination of the town she has moved to," Gauthier explains. The townspeople work together to create a garden in the park — in the end the butterflies, and the new girl, both feel at home. 

"It's a really beautiful book and the illustrations are absolutely magical," Gauthier said. 

Plant the Tiny Seed is a read-aloud activity book that Gauthier also recommends. 

Goddard on gardens

"I really love the ones that are a bit more in-depth," Goddard said of what gardening books she enjoys. "I find that it's hard to find ones that aren't just beginner, design-a-garden books." 

Flower Gardens is one of Victoria Goddard's favourite books, offering practical advice and design inspiration. (New Line Books)

Goddard recommends Flower Gardens by Penelope Hobhouse (New Line Books), who describes what she learned by being a gardener in residence at one of the National Trust gardens in England. The book offers practical growing advice as well as discussing how to arrange gardens for best effect through the seasons, and is full of colour photos of flowering plants. 

There's nothing more frustrating than buying a gardening book and seeing a plant you like and then discovering it's not suitable.— Dan MacDonald

The Resilient Gardener: Food Production and Self-Reliance in Uncertain Times is also on Goddard's must-read list. It's by American organic gardener and scientist Carol Deppe and discusses how to grow, store and use staple crops such as potatoes, corn and beans. 

"Although it's very different than the ornamental gardening books in certain ways, the idea that you are planning an entire ecosystem around your house for both beauty and bounty is a powerful one," Goddard said. 

Vegetable Literacy by seasoned cookbook author Deborah Madison combines gardening and cooking. She explores relationships among vegetables, edible flowers and herbs in the same plant family such as cumin, cilantro and dill. 

Bookmark these picks

The Bookmark has been displaying and selling gardening books since the snow began to melt in March, MacDonald said. He leans toward practical guides for local gardeners.

Niki Jabbour's newest book is about delicious edible plants you can grow in Atlantic Canada. (Storey Publishing)

MacDonald suggests Favourite Perennials for Atlantic Canada by Todd Boland (Boulder Publications). It's a guide to the hundreds of perennials suitable to the challenging weather and soil conditions of the East Coast, and offers design suggestions. 

"What I like about this book is the plants that are in it are suitable for Atlantic Canada — there's nothing more frustrating than buying a gardening book and seeing a plant you like and then discovering it's not suitable for our zone," MacDonald said, pointing out the author lives in Newfoundland. 

For the same reasons, MacDonald likes Halifax author Niki Jabbour's Veggie Garden ReMix: 224 New Plants To Shake Up Your Garden And Add Variety, Flavor And Fun

The Gardener's companion to Medical Plants: An A-Z of Healing Plants and Home Remedies "is just a very beautiful book, gorgeous illustrations," said MacDonald, who enjoys discovering new facts about familiar plants. 

CBC P.E.I.'s garden book panel: Dan MacDonald, Victoria Goddard and Roseanne Gauthier. (Mitch Cormier/CBC)

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With files from Island Morning

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