Springtime Gardening Reading List

Get a head start on your springtime garden plans with these authoritative guides.


Snow may be falling outside but now is the time to start planning and prepping for springtime gardening. Whether you’re a beginner eager to become more self-reliant by growing your own food, or an experienced green thumb interested in trying new techniques and expanding your knowledge, the plant authorities at the Denver Botanic Gardens are certainly a wealth of information; yet their gift shop also offers helpful resources in the form of beautifully designed and intriguing books to help you get growing. These books range from highly functional how-to guides to thoughtful reflections on the soulful journey of growing something. Gardening is after all, more than a means to an end—the therapeutic benefits of digging in the dirt are truly transcendent.

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Firsthand: Creating Gardens For All People by Denver Botanic Gardens ($80, Beckon Books) highlights the story of the Denver Botanic Gardens from its early 20th century beginnings to the completion of its Master Development Plan in 2020. Featuring compelling stories, beautiful photography and archival images this stunning, award-winning coffee table book captures the diverse people, plants and programs of the Gardens.

For those who enjoy crafting creative cocktails using fresh-snipped items from the garden, author Amy Stewart dives into a plethora of herbs, flowers, trees, fruits and fungi that humans have managed to transform into alcoholic concoctions over the centuries with her book, The Drunken Botanist: The Plants That Create The World’s Greatest Drinks ($25, Algonquin Books of Chapel Hill).

Companion planting is one of the oldest ways to create a healthy, bountiful garden the natural way. Adding flowers to your food garden improves biodiversity, enhances pollination and increases the numbers of beneficial pest-eating insects. Learn how this tried-and-true technique will fight garden pests without harmful pesticides in Vegetables Love Flowers: Companion Planting for Beauty and Bounty ($26, Cool Springs Press) by Lisa Mason Ziegler.

Leeks, rhubarb and beets…oh my! Written by a self-proclaimed “plant geek,” Mastering the Art of Vegetable Gardening ($30, Cool Springs Press), will help you level up in cultivating produce. Author and gardening expert, Matt Mattus encourages gardeners to learn about new varieties of common plant species; explore their history and benefits, and discover fascinating new edibles. Featuring beautiful photography and personal insight with a twist of humor.

Learn about banner batches, grow heaps, comforter compost and other time-saving techniques in The Complete Compost Gardening Guide ($20, Storey Books). Authors, Barbara Pleasant and Deborah L. Martin teach a natural Six-Way Compost Gardening System that provides the principles for successful gardening by keeping compost heaps right in the garden, rather than slogging back and forth to a compost bin.

Naturalistic garden designs have numerous benefits—they increase biodiversity, provide a refuge for wildlife and reconnect humans to nature. In his book The New Naturalism: Designing and Planting a Resilient, Ecologically Vibrant Home Garden ($30, Cool Springs Press), horticulturist and modern plantsman Kelly D. Norris shares his vision for home gardens inspired by the wild spaces we cherish such as meadows, prairies, woodlands and stream sides.

Living in drought-stricken environments often drives attention to the importance of gardening/ landscaping that is respectful of individual climates. This philosophy is eloquently expressed by Scott Ogden and Lauren Springer Odgen in Plant-Driven Design: Creating Gardens That Honor Plants, Place and Spirit ($35, Timber Press), which encourages sustainability in our gardens with indigenous plants.