As winter beckons and thoughts of the festive season are upon us, now is a good time to plan new beds and borders, find inspiring ideas for your garden and work out how you want your garden to look next year.
Gardening books provide a wealth of inspiration - so whether you’re looking for a gift to put under the tree or simply want to examine a new or traditional garden style yourself, here are a few of the books which should get the green-fingered creative juices flowing...
l Thenford: The Creation Of An English Garden by Michael and Anne Heseltine (Head of Zeus, £40): This coffee table tome tells the story in words and pictures of Michael and Anne Heseltine’s Northamptonshire home, charting the development of the garden over 40 years.
It started off as an overgrown woodland, but today there’s an arboretum with more than 3,000 varieties of trees and shrubs, medieval fish ponds, a rill water feature and a beautifully restored walled garden.
l RHS A-Z Encyclopedia of Garden Plants, edited by Christopher Brickell (DK, £75): This is a Christmas gift to end all Christmas gifts for gardeners, a beautiful reference tool packed with fantastic images and clear descriptions and growing advice for more than 15,000 plants. It’s been updated with more than 5,000 new plant entries and new photographs and comes in a majestic presentation box.
l House Of Plants: Living With Succulents, Air Plants And Cacti by Caro Langton and Rose Ray (Frances Lincoln, £20, out Nov 3): If you love indoor greenery with the minimum of fuss, this book focuses on houseplants that are perfect for urban living, showing both the aspiring and experienced plant enthusiast how to nurture, share and enjoy them, as well as arranging them stylishly in the home.
l The Quest For Shakespeare’s Garden by Roy Strong (Thames & Hudson, £14.95): Published in association with Shakespeare Birthplace Trust, Sir Roy Strong’s lively account traces the origins of the Elizabethan garden and tells the story of the Bard’s own garden. Accompanied by quotations from Shakespeare’s works, it features beautiful illustrations of his gardens, past and present.
l Gardenista: The Definitive Guide To Stylish Outdoor Spaces by Michelle Slatalla with the editors of Gardenista (Artisan, £28.99): Full page pictures illustrate the terrific ideas offered by this first book from the team behind Gardenista.com. With more than 1.1 million visitors a month, Gardenista has become one of the online destination source books for garden and exterior design fans.
It features tours of 12 outdoor spaces including a fairy-tale garden, a cottage garden and a posh and pampered greenhouse.
l Plant Love: The Scandalous Truth About The Sex Life Of Plants by Michael Allaby (Filbert Press, £14.99): Want to know about botanic sex? Find out in this revealing stocking-filler, an expose of more than 200 of nature’s most unseemly liaisons. There’s nectar and pollen, but there are also teasers which deliver nothing and cheating among plants takes many forms. Find out how avocado flowers are female one day and male the next, how the violet really does shrink and how giraffes pollinate certain trees.
l Garden Flora by Noel Kingsbury (Timber Press, £29.99): Did you know that epimediums contain a compound similar to that which you find in Viagra? Or that ancient armies were reduced by eating poisonous rhododendron honey? This fascinating book examines the cultural and natural history of 133 of the most beloved garden plants, revealing their survival strategies, growth habit and uses. It includes everything from the acer to the zinnia.