*Starred Review* This book was published in association with the American Horticultural Society, a core component of whose mission is to “educate and inspire people to become successful and environmentally responsible gardeners.” It is hard to imagine any other activity of the society doing more to fulfill that mission than this dense, beautiful, and easy-to-use volume. Expert gardeners and garden writers have been assembled to execute this tour de force, which every serious gardener will want to repeatedly consult. Abundantly illustrated with thousands of illustrations and photographs, each clearly and sensibly written section of this volume offers helpful advice, step-by-step techniques, tips for identifying and correcting common problems, suggested plants for various situations, and lots of ideas. For the new gardener, the encyclopedia begins with gardening basics. Chapters on wildlife gardening and growing ornamentals, vegetables and herbs, fruit, and lawns follow. Water, container, and greenhouse gardening each receive special treatment in individual chapters as well. Advice on landscape design is also included at key points in each chapter. Advanced gardeners will find useful tips throughout and may be especially interested in the final chapter, which covers a wide variety of propagation techniques. In every section, the useful illustrations demonstrate exactly how to handle particular situations and challenges in every season as well as how to work with plants that have special cultural needs. The encyclopedia closes with an extensive index and helpful glossary. Whether someone is looking to deal with pests, prop up a wisteria, or start an herb garden, all who love to garden and those who want to start will find something useful here. This encyclopedia is a strong reminder of the value of bringing together a huge amount of authoritative information in a compact form that does not require a power cord. Highly recommended for collections used by gardeners and aspiring gardeners. It would be a valuable tool for schools where gardens and gardening are integrated into the classroom. --Jeff Kosokoff
Garden books come and go each year, but the American Horticultural Society's "New Encyclopedia of Gardening Techniques" (Mitchell Beazley, $45) is essential to any gardener, newbie and green-thumbed alike. Weighing in at more than 4 1/2 pounds, this indispensable work is the latest book from the national gardening association (ahs.org) that dates to 1922. The book offers more than 2,000 illustrations and 200 color photos covering everything from the nuts and bolts of soil makeup and digging techniques to weed control, compost piles, containers, growing edibles, water gardening and garden design. What sets it apart, however, is its focus on earth-friendly, organic gardening practices.
Although it's geared to all regions of the country -- you'll find citrus trees discussed, for instance -- this hefty reference book is intended as a general resource on a multitude of gardening topics, one that will whet your appetite for more as you delve into it this winter.