Snowed In? How About a Good Read?


A small section of the library.

Each month we host a Once in a Moon Give away on our Facebook page. Here we encourage people to ‘like’, ‘share’ and comment on the post of the day and in return we offer some sort of nifty reward. Though hand tools and posters and even flats of plants have been up for grabs, quite frequently we offer books to the lucky winner.

We figured you may enjoy some of these reads and decided to list some of the ones we have offered to date. Of course you will notice a theme to the books we offer, relating to nature, native plants and native plant design. Some of these books may not align with your point of view regarding native plants, the value of exotic plants and the reconsideration of landscape design and ecology in light of global horticulture.

We are not reviewing these books, we are simply encouraging you to read these books, especially the ones you do not think you agree with. Take a gander into the research, insights and beliefs of others. See where they are coming from and consider your own assumptions in the process. Your mind may not be changed in the end but hopefully your brain will have a few new wrinkles.

So after you have finished your shoveling, grab a warm beverage of your choice and settle in with one of these books. By the time spring planting season rolls around, you may have new questions to ask yourself or your clients when it comes to decisions about landscapes and restorations, plant selections and removals.

The title links to the publisher’s page for the book. We let you decide to choose to purchase the book from the local bookstore of your choosing or the big box store or online seller you wish to support, or borrow it from your local library. The author links to their personal webpage. The other links within the description are added by us to take you to pages that discuss the terms in alignment with the author, or perhaps contrary to the author’s views. You will have to read to find out. Finally, for you non-readers, those who are too busy to read, or those who would like to hear more from the author, we have included some links to interviews and articles from the author.


The Rambunctious Garden: Saving Nature in a Post-Wild World by Emma Marris

Publication Date: 2011, Bloomsbury Press

From the back cover:

“A paradigm shift is roiling the environmental world. For decades people have unquestioningly accepted the idea that our goal is to preserve nature in its pristine, prehuman state. But humans have changed the landscapes they inhabit since pre-history, and climate change means even the remotest places nor bear the fingerprints of humanity. Our goal going forward, Emma Marris convincingly argues, must be a hybrid of wild nature and human management.

In this optimistic book, readers meet leading scientists and environmentalists and visit imaginary Edens, designer ecosystems, and Pleistocene parks. Harris describes innovative conservation approaches, including rewilding, assisted migration, and the embrace of so-called novel ecosystemsRambunctious Garden dispenses with the romantic notion of pristine wilderness, embracing a new concept with its own romance: a global, half-wild rambunctious garden, tended by us.”


Want to hear more from this author?

Check out this interview with the American Society of Landscape Architects.

Listen to this interview she did with Orion Magazine on Saving Species.


Phyto: Principles and resources for site remediation and landscape design. by Kate Kennen and Niall Kirkwood

Publication Date: 2015, Routledge

From the website:

“About the Book:

Phyto presents the concepts of phytoremediation and phytotechnology in one comprehensive guide, illustrating when plants can be considered for the uptake, removal or mitigation of on-site pollutants. Current scientific case studies are covered, highlighting the advantages and limitations of plant-based cleanup. Typical contaminant groups found in the built environment are explained, and plant lists for mitigation of specific contaminants are included where applicable.

This is the first book to address the benefits of phytotechnologies from a design point of view, taking complex scientific terms and translating the research into an easy-to-understand reference book for those involved in creating planting solutions. Typically, phytotechnology planting techniques are currently employed post-site contamination to help clean up already contaminated soil by taking advantage of the positive effects that plants can have upon harmful toxins and chemicals. This book presents a new concept to create projective planting designs with preventative phytotechnology abilities, ‘phytobuffering’ where future pollution may be expected for particular site programs.

Filled with tables, photographs and detailed drawings, Kennen and Kirkwood’s text guides the reader through the process of selecting plants for their aesthetic and environmental qualities, combined with their contaminant-removal benefits.”


Read more in an article “Pollutant Purging Plants” by author Kate Kennen for the Ecological Landscape Alliance’s newsletter.

Named one of the best books in 2015 by The Dirt, the blog of the American Society of Landscape Architects.


Urban and Suburban Meadows: Bringing Meadowscaping to Big and Small Spaces by Catherine Zimmerman

Publication Date: 2010, Matrix Media Press

From the website:

“While it is impractical to eliminate lawn, we cannot ignore the environmental consequences of such landscape planning as ecosystems are being destroyed and replaced with chemically maintained monocultures.

Author and photographer, Catherine Zimmerman combines her expertise in photography, storytelling, environmental issues, horticulture and organic practices
to offer meadowscaping as an alternative to reduce lawn. Zimmerman weaves her personal journey of changing her own landscaping choices into a guide that demonstrates both the need to change current, detrimental landscaping practices
and the practical know how and resources to accomplish that change.

The book provides plant lists and resource sections for nine regions across the
United States along with local sources to assist the meadow creator in bringing
diversity back to urban and suburban landscapes.”

Urban Suburban Meadows

There is a companion video to this book.

In addition Catherine Zimmerman has teamed up with Doug Tallamy to create the Hometown Habitat video.

Watch Jane Pauley on the Today Show interview Catherine Zimmerman back in 2010.


Back to Eden: Landscaping with Native Plants by Frank W. Porter

Publication Date: 2013, Orange Frazer Press

From the publisher’s website:

“Now is the time to save our natural plant heritage—before it’s too late. In Back to Eden, Frank Porter rediscovers the plants that once covered our landscapes and teaches us the secrets of how to propagate and grow these botanical treasures. This book is for beginners, as well as the experienced. Here you’ll:

Learn how to establish a native plant garden.
Read about the silent garden invaders.
Discover how to make a rain garden.
Grow your garden without fertilizer.
Understand the importance of using native grasses and plants.

The information in this book applies to states extending from Maine to Florida and east of the Mississippi River. Many species are common throughout this vast area. Others are restricted to particular geographic regions. You will discover new plants to incorporate into your garden.”

back to eden

Listen to a 2013 radio interview with the author on WVXU out of Cincinnati.


Spring Wildflowers of the Northeast: A Natural History by Carol Gracie

Publication Date: 2012, Princeton University Press

From the publisher’s website:

“This exquisitely illustrated volume provides an in-depth look at spring-blooming wildflowers of the Northeast, from old favorites to lesser-known species. Featuring more than 500 full-color photos in a stunning large-sized format, the book delves deep into the life histories, lore, and cultural uses of more than 35 plant species. The rich narrative covers topics such as the naming of wildflowers; the reasons for taxonomic changes; pollination of flowers and dispersal of seeds; uses by Native Americans; related species in other parts of the world; herbivores, plant pathogens, and pests; medicinal uses; and wildflower references in history, literature, and art. The photos capture the beauty of these plants and also illustrate the concepts discussed in the text.

A book unlike any other, Spring Wildflowers of the Northeast combines the latest scientific research with an accessible, entertaining style, making it the ideal volume for readers of all levels of expertise.


  • Showcases the Northeast’s most spectacular spring-blooming wildflowers 
  • Features more than 500 full-color photos 
  • Covers the life histories, lore, and cultural uses of more than 35 species 
  • Combines the latest scientific research with an easy-to-read style 
  • Offers something new for seasoned botanists as well as armchair naturalists”

Spring Wildflowers

Read many New York Botanical Garden (NYBG) Plant Talk blog postings by Carol Gracie.

An interview with Margaret Roach on A Way to Garden about easy to propagate wildflowers and this one on a closer look at spring wildflowers.


Have you read any of these? What did you think? What books have inspired you and your plant-related endeavors? What books have gotten you thinking a bit differently about the nature world around us and our role in it? Let us know! Perhaps we will share your insights in a future blog post. And around the next New Moon be sure to check out our Facebook page for the “Once in a New Moon” event – who knows maybe you will win the next book!


One comment

  1. […] We are happy to say we carry a number of the plants Tallamy recommends for the Mid-Atlantic (p. 294-300). He is even so generous as to list them by their habitat. Here are just a few of the ones we carry that fit the bill, for a complete list and an excellent education add the book to your collection. […]

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