Below are a sample of books that I have enjoyed reading over the years and are mostly garden related. If you click on the book image you will be taken to Book Depository where I by the majority of my books these days - if you purchase from clicking from this website I will get a commission - every year it amounts to about enough to by a packet of seeds :)
Shunmyo Masuno, Japan's leading garden designer, is at once Japan's most highly acclaimed landscape architect and an 18th-generation Zen Buddhist priest, presiding over daily ceremonies at the Kenkoji Temple in Yokohama. He is celebrated for his unique ability to blend strikingly contemporary elements with the traditional design vernacular. He has worked in ultramodern urban hotels and in some of Japan's most famous classic gardens. In each project, his work as a designer is inseparable from his Buddhist practice. Each becomes a Zen garden, "a special spiritual place where the mind dwells." This beautiful book, illustrated with more than 400 drawings and color photographs, is the first complete retrospective of Masuno's work to be published in English. It presents 37 major gardens around the world in a wide variety of types and settings: traditional and contemporary, urban and rural, public spaces and private residences, and including temple, office, hotel and campus venues. Masuno achieved fame for his work in Japan, but he is becoming increasingly known internationally, and in 2011 completed his first commission in the United States which is shown here. The book, divided into three chapters, covers: "Traditional Zen Gardens," "Contemporary Zen Gardens" and "Zen Gardens outside Japan." Illustrated with photographs and architectural plans or sketches, each garden is described and analyzed by author Mira Locher, herself an architect and a scholar well versed in Japanese culture. Celebrating the accomplishments of a major, world-class designer, "Zen Gardens" also serves as something of a master class in Japanese garden design and appreciation: how to perceive a Japanese garden, how to understand one, even how to make one yourself. Like one of Masuno's gardens, the book can be a place for contemplation and mindful repose.
A History of the Garden in Fifty Tools
A green thumb is not the only tool one needs to garden well?at least thats what the makers of gardening catalogs and the designers of the dizzying aisle displays in lawn- and-garden stores would have us believe. Need to plant a bulb, aerate some soil, or keep out a hungry critter? Well, theres a specific tool for almost everything. But this isnt just a product of todays consumer era, since the very earliest gardens, people have been developing tools to make planting and harvesting more efficient and to make flora more beautiful and trees more fruitful. In A History of the Garden in Fifty Tools, Bill Laws offers entertaining and colorful anecdotes of implements that have shaped our gardening experience since the beginning. As Laws reveals, gardening tools have coevolved with human society, and the story of these fifty individual tools presents an innovative history of humans and the garden over time. Laws takes us back to the Neolithic age, when the microlith, the first ?all-in-one tool was invented. Consisting of a small sharp stone blade that was set into a handle made of wood, bone, or antler, it was a small spade that could be used to dig, clip, and cut plant material. We find out that wheelbarrows originated in China in the second century BC, and their basic form has not changed much since. He also describes how early images of a pruning knife appear in Roman art, in the form of a scythe that could cut through herbs, vegetables, fruits, and nuts and was believed to be able to tell the gardener when and what to harvest. Organized into five thematic chapters relating to different types of gardens: the flower garden, the kitchen garden, the orchard, the lawn, and ornamental gardens, the book includes a mix of horticulture and history, in addition to stories featuring well-known characters?we learn about Henry David Thoreaus favorite hoe, for example. A History of the Garden in Fifty Tools will be a beautiful gift for any home gardener and a reassuring reminder that gardeners have always struggled with the same quandaries.