City Seedling: Flowery Prose


As a book person, I’ve spent many rainy/snowy/humid/icky days inside reading about gardening. As this garden season comes to a close, with the projected first frost date this Saturday, I thought I’d list a few of my favorite gardening books that might help nurse you through the long winter ahead.

from Les Fleurs Animees, via Bibliodyssey


1. Instructional: The City Gardener’s Handbook by Linda Yang

This is my go-to how-to gardening book. Linda Yang wrote the gardening Q & A in the New York Times for many years. In this text, Yang covers every subject, from general gardening stuff like soil and pests, to city specific things, like gardening on your balcony. She also talks a lot about her philosophies of gardening, and the intersection between plants and the city. This is a great book for a first time gardener. It’s actually quite an entertaining read, as a bonus, and has great illustrations.

2. Memoir: Second Nature, A Gardener’s Education by Michael Pollan

You know my boy Michael Pollan would make this list. This is an insightful, thoughtful and beautiful memoir about the importance of gardens in Pollan’s life, from when he was a very young child until adulthood. He also spends time examining things like the history of the suburban lawn, which is fascinating. He’s a beautiful writer. if you’ve avoided him in the past because of his sometimes depressing topics (hello, Omnivore’s Dilemma), then give this one a try.

3. Jardin Porn: 1000 Garden Ideas by Stafford Cliff

There are over 15 pages in this book devoted to pictures of garden benches. Do I need to say more? Seriously, I plan a new fantasy backyard every time I look through this book. It’s a little pricey, but there are used copies available on Amazon.

These books are perfect for when Burpee or Wayside Gardens send you their seed and plant catalogs in February. Those catalogs always seem to arrive on the coldest, wettest winter days, when you’re completely sick of hot cocoa and sitting inside. They totally thrive on that, because in your Seasonal Affective Disorder induced plant madness, you over order to an insane degree, just to prove that spring isn’t as far away as it feels. I (hopefully) stop myself before that stage, and I pull out my books on gardening and nature to try to feel the sun shine through the page.

Happy growing,


Do you have a favorite book on gardens? Tell us about it in the comments!

Emily Helck

a lifelong New Jersey resident who moved to Jersey City in 2006. She earned an MA in English and writing from Fordham University. In addition to blogging about gardening in the city, her personal blog RTONJ is about being a young adult with cancer. She lives downtown with a dog, two cats, and her husband.