Cool reads for the cold months



Garden books are rolling off the presses as the holidays approach and I have quite a few in hand, mainly from Timber Press. I’ll be posting longer reviews in the coming weeks—and we will be hosting some authors as Timber rolls out a digital book tour. Stay tuned especially for an interview and discussion of a future release that’s bound to be controversial! (That’s all I’ll reveal.)

In the meantime, here are a few titles I think would be great ways to fill in the time for those of you who won’t be doing much gardening.


This is a fun one. I’m always interested in plants that have literary and historic connections. No advice here, just the lowdown on plants mentioned in the Bible and the Quran. Was it an apple or an apricot? What the heck is frankincense, anyway? I learned what Cedar of Lebanon is (besides a local restaurant) and that bulrushes are becoming endangered, as Middle Eastern wetlands are filled in. (I have bulrush/papyrus plant in my pond.) I did notice that most of the plants are tracd back to the Bible, fewer from the Quran.


Over the years, I’ve come to really love viburnums; I wish I had room for more—in fact maybe I should take that huge step of uprooting the rhododendrons and plant viburnums instead. I have a plicatum tomestotum and it thrives in a ton of shade. This book lists them all, alphabetically by species and cultivar, describes their habits, lists variations and where they grow, and tells you what they need. Kind of a must-have for the viburnum geek and I know there are plenty out there.


Finally, I want to mention how excited I am about reading Bringing Nature Home. I’ve just glanced through it and I like the writing—enthusiastic and down-to-earth, as it should be. This isn’t just a list of plants; almost half the book is devoted to the politics of native plants, the many ways in which disappearing habitats affect us, and the practicalities of maintaining a healthy ecosystem that doesn’t require a unrealistic change in how you garden. All this stuff may be old hat to many of you, but I am undereducated in the subject. I hope to write more on this book when I’ve finished it.

So there you have it—three books I consider well-worth your attention. All from Timber.

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Elizabeth Licata

Elizabeth Licata has been a regular writer for  Garden Rant since 2007, after contributing a guest rant about the overuse of American flags in front gardens. She lives and gardens in Buffalo, N.Y., which, far from the frozen wasteland many assume it to be, is a lush paradise of gardens, historic architecture, galleries, museums, theaters, and fun. As editor of Buffalo Spree magazine,  Licata helps keep Western New Yorkers apprised about what is happening in their region. She is also a freelance writer and art curator, who’s been published in Fine Gardening, Horticulture, ArtNews, Art in America, the Village Voice, and many other publications. She does regularly radio segments for the local NPR affiliate, WBFO.

Licata is involved with Garden Walk Buffalo, the largest free garden tour in the US and possibly the world,and has written the text for a book about Garden Walk. She has also written and edited several art-related books. Contact Elizabeth: ealicata at


  1. I got an e-mail saying Timber Press is offering free shipping for a while too, so now is the time to order.

    I think the Tallamy book will be on my Christmas wish list!

  2. I have written a book theat merits consideration as a winter read. A light read, at that. It is entitled the Zen of Watering your Garden. Gardening intensity aside, life’s intensity in our world has made the garden –particularly watering the garden a zen-like experience. This is a 152page book with 145 fullcolorphotographs juztaposed to thought provoking amphorisms , sayings and poems. there are 20 photo contributers from the world oveer and quotes from Twain to Disraeli. Have look on or google zenofwatering. MMCohen

  3. Tallamy’s book Bringing Nature Home is brilliant. The best and most engaging description I’ve seen of a balanced ecosystem and food webs, as well as useful infomation about attaining that balance. More bugs! It is also a reminder that the suburban gardener has a great responsibility and opportunity for preserving the local biodiversity.

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