Five Great Summer Reads – Books to Delight the Gardener Within You


5 summer readsWith the dog days of summer upon us, the majority of my gardening chores are done in the early morning or in the late evening. More and more, I am finding myself sitting on the porch under a box fan with a cool beverage and reading a good book.

An early adopter in many respects, I must confess that I have never  been able to convert my reading habits from a book to a nook or other electronic reading device. There is just something about the feel of a book, the smell of a book, the satisfaction you get when you complete a book and can snap it shut, after being filled with its knowledge.

I am a firm believer that everyone should have a personal library of the books that they love. Electronics often fail, things get lost in the “cloud”, but I can always go to the shelf and pull off the book I need and soak in its goodness. I typically purchase books all throughout the year, but find myself reading them in summer and winter. Below are the books I’ve been basking in this summer. All are worthy of your time. Some are available on your reader, but I’d like to challenge you to pick up a hard copy and sit back and enjoy a good old fashioned read.

  1. Mrs. Lee’s Rose Garden

This book combines two of my favorite subjects: Roses & History.  Did you know that Arlington National Cemetery was once Mrs. Robert E. Lee’s Rose Garden? It’s a fascinating read of how this very personal garden became sacred ground for our nation. A little short on roses, but full of the type of colorful history that history lovers are drawn to.

2. Cocktail Hour Garden 

“Everytime I take the time to sit and observe the natural world, know that I am exceedingly grateful. Backyards and gardens, this book if for you.” – C.L. Fornari

C.L. Fornari, author of the popular Coffee for Roses has published another winner. “The Cocktail Hour Garden”. It’s a wonderful guide for creating a garden space that’s perfect for entertaining. With chapters covering topics on Fragrance in the garden, Illumination and my personal favorite Herbs, Flowers and other Beverage Ingredients, this book is delightful to read and is an excellent reference guide.

3. Plantations and Outdoor Museums in America’s Historic South

This travel guide explores some of the deep south’s hidden treasures. It seeks to introduce the reader to the pleasures of exploring historic America – in particular, beautifully restored homes  in our beloved South. The book covers 68 such sites with directions, opening times and entrance fees. A must for southern history buffs.

4. All the Presidents’ Gardens 

Thus far, my favorite read of the year, author Marta McDowell weaves a wonderful story of the ever changing gardens of the White House.

“The White House Grounds have been an unwitting witness to history—a backdrop for soldiers, suffragettes, protesters, and activists. Kings and queens have dined there, bills and treaties have been signed, and presidents have landed and retreated. All the Presidents’ Gardens tells the untold history of the White House Grounds, starting with the seed-collecting, plant-obsessed George Washington and ending with Michelle Obama’s kitchen garden.” –

From roses to veggies, there is a little bit of something for everyone in this book.

5. How To Grow Roses 

Stewart & Nancy Myers of Myers Plants and Pottery presented me with this wonderful book on roses written by two rose growing legends;  J. Horace McFarland and Robert Pyle. This book features timeless advice on the care and keeping of roses. Originally published in 1937, It is a volume I will treasure.

I hope you’ll take the time to check out some of these awesome books. They’ll expand your knowledge and sense of connection with the natural world around you.




About Chris VanCleave - America's Favorite Rose Gardener

Christopher R. VanCleave – America’s Favorite Rose Gardener Nicknamed "The Redneck Rosarian”, Chris VanCleave is passionate about gardening and growing roses. He is an active member of the Birmingham chapter of the American Rose Society, serving two terms as President. In 2007, he created the Rose Chat Podcast which has reached over a half a million listeners with news and information on growing on growing the world’s most beloved flower, the rose. He was a contributor to the 2015 Southern Living Gardening Book, has appeared on P. Allen Smith’s Garden Home television show and was featured in the June 2015 issue of Southern Living Magazine. Locally, Chris serves as Chairman of the Helena Alabama Beautification Board where he has spearheaded efforts to create a sustainable landscape in one of the top one hundred places to live in the United States. His writing is seen at and on his popular website;, where he chronicles his gardening adventures and explores an intrinsic mix of life, faith and gardening. An agent of change with over 20 years’ experience in process innovation, Mr. VanCleave is leading the charge to reinvigorate horticultural societies and helping them to reach their full potential in the social media age.
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5 Responses to Five Great Summer Reads – Books to Delight the Gardener Within You

  1. Reading about growing roses is “almost” as fun as growing roses. Thanks for the great reviews!


  2. Andrea says:

    A million thanks from my heart. I appreciate good recommendations from people of like mind. Your comments about electronic reading devices express my feelings exactly! I love having a library in my home filled with books by and about people and subjects I love. What’s the old saying…’if you have a garden and a library, you have everything you need’. Not sure who to attribute that to, but I think we would have been friends.

    Liked by 2 people

  3. This is great! Thank you for sharing.


  4. Benjamin says:

    They will have to take my last printed book from my cold, dead hands! 🙂 Great post! Cheers, Ben

    Liked by 1 person

  5. elenawill says:

    Reblogged this on Evergreen Rosarian and commented:
    Excellent books reviewa for every rose lover.


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