Book roundup + giveaway! The 20-30 Something Garden Guide, The Plant Recipe Book & Sunset’s Western Garden Book of Landscaping

Spring has arrived!

And along with the sweet scent of jasmine, the bursting blooms of tulips and rosebuds just beginning to open comes a new crop of gardening books.  Luckily my mailman remembers that, around this time each year, his load gets a little heavier with all the books I’m sent to review.  I thought it might be fun to tell you about a few of my favorites, each distinctly different from the next, as well as offer a fantastic prize package to one lucky winner.  Here they are:


The 20-30 Something GardenerThe 20-30 Something Garden Guide

My good friend Dee Nash has written a book for anyone just starting out down the garden path.  While many of us seasoned gardeners already know how to read a plant tag, dig a proper planting hole and know when and where to plant a tomato, not everyone does.  It’s easy to forget how intimidating gardening can be for someone just starting out.  When I first began gardening I remember asking a garden center employee what type of fertilizer I should buy, and when they responded with “well, what do you need – N, P, or K?”  I just stood there like a deer in the headlights.

Dee’s friendly and encouraging voice is like having a big sister standing at your side, helping you every step of the way with a ‘Don’t worry about it, honey – I’ll show you how you do it.‘  One of my favorite aspects of the book is the many garden tips sprinkled throughout.  Who doesn’t love a good gardening tip?  And who better to give them than other, more experienced gardeners from around the country.  Oh, and did I mention there’s a fantastic blog that goes along with the book?  Follow along as Dee shares her gardening adventures to see what is (and isn’t) working.  Whether you’re just starting out or know someone who is, this book is a must-have to add to your garden book collection.

Plant RecipeThe Plant Recipe Book

I first met Baylor a few years ago when writing my first book, Garden Up! (remember those amazing succulent shutters?  Yep – they were hers) and have since then written about her here and here.  So when I found out she had written a book, I was one of the first to raise my hands to review it, knowing just how fantastic it would be.  I wasn’t disappointed.

Truly one of the most beautiful garden books I’ve seen this year, Baylor Chapman has written The Plant Recipe Book, featuring 40 plants and 100 recipes.  These aren’t recipes for lavender cookies or lemon balm tea, they’re inspiring and detailed recipes for creating some of  the most innovative living plant arrangements for your home.

Baylor selects one plant (a lily, for example) and then provides a few different recipes featuring that plant:  Recipe 1: On It’s Own, Recipe 2: With Company, or Recipe 3: Special Occasion.  Whether you’re looking to create something simple, traditional or wildly creative you’ll appreciate the clear, numbered, step-by-step instructions showing you just how easy it is to create a spectacular centerpiece using living plants.  And why not?  Living plants last so much longer than cut flowers and when artfully arranged will become the centerpiece of your home. Thank you, Baylor, for showing me exactly how to create some of your jaw-dropping arrangements!

Sunset bookSunset Western Garden Book of Landscaping

Having lived my entire life on the West Coast, Sunset has become like an old family friend (only this friend never seems to age!)  Their latest book, The Western Garden Book of Landscaping, is one of my favorites this year (and not just because my garden shed is featured, along with my little dog Buddy!) as it’s written in an easy to read manner, appealing to beginner and expert gardeners alike.  With over 600 stunning, full-color photographs, the book is divided into specific categories such as Gardens, Structures, Plants, Finishing Touches and Planning, making it easy to seek out inspiration in a particular area.   I’m currently knee-deep in designing new gardens for my spring clientele and I’ve turned to this book countless times to help provide me with some new, fresh and innovative ideas.

What separates this book from many of Sunset’s past publications are three main components:  1) a focus on earth-friendly garden design (permeable paving, recycled materials, water wise plantings, low-voltage lighting), 2) expert tips from seasoned landscape professionals and 3) simple ideas and suggestions from first time gardeners who have just finished going through a landscape remodel.   As Sunset’s garden editor Kathleen Brenzel says, “Whether you’re a true DIYer or will enlist the help of a landscape professional, this book is an invaluable resource.”  An invaluable resource, indeed!


Now for the giveaway!

Plant Recipegarden dibbers

row markers






Leave a comment below, telling me what you’re excited about in your own spring garden, and you might win your own copy of The Plant Recipe Book along with a set of Le Jardinet’s hand-made garden dibbers and row markers.

What are garden dibbers, you might ask?  Karen and Andy Chapman, originally from England, hand-craft these traditional English dibbers designed for sowing seeds, small bulbs or transplanting.  The row markers are an ingenious, yet simple way to maximize the smallest of spaces. Using locally sourced wood from their property in Washington, these tools feel wonderful in your hands, like you’re holding a piece of history.  Which, of course, you are.

Contest Closed! The giveaway begins Tuesday, March 25th and runs through Tuesday, April 1st at 11:59 pm – the winner will be chosen via a random number generator and announced on Wednesday the 2nd. Please note that because of shipping costs, this giveaway is restricted to residents of the continental U.S.

Best of luck and happy reading everyone!GreenBar

 UPDATE:  The winner of the giveaway is Heather Fowler.  Congratulations, Heather!  Contact me via email at and I’ll get the prizes to you asap!  Thanks for entering, everyone!  🙂

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  • Sunshine! It has been very wet the last few months.

  • I’m excited about seeing all the bulbs I planted years ago finally starting to naturalize and spread. I will have a carpet of crocus at last!

  • I’m excited about the tulips and daffodils that are up and blooming. I’ve never tried them before and have been pleasantly surprised although I know they won’t survive the hot dry summers in this part of Texas, without digging them up and storing them.

  • I’m looking forward to continuing the “plant out” of my remodeled back yard. Right now, the bulbs are blooming or coming up and the bleeding hearts are just unfurling. Trillium is blooming and has spread into three flowers instead of one.

  • I planted a lot of bulbs last fall and I’m looking to see them come up. But spring hasn’t sprung here–we just got 8 inches of snow last night and I have yet to see my first crocus bloom!

  • This morning I’ve had the idea of doing something with a big pile of bamboo that’s stacked up in a most unappealing way. My thought it to stand it up in a hugh container of some-sort in the garden as a focal point… to convince hubby of the idea!!

  • I am excited to have found this new site via Sharon Lovejoy first of all but in my own garden I am excited to see the beginnings of Spring popping up in the form of the first iris, the new chartreuse leaves on the oak trees, and the beginnings of the maple trees starting to bud. Here in the Sierra Nevada Foothills, things are a bit slower to bud than in the Bay Area or Southern California. My fruit tree garden is just beginning to pop with color and looks so incredible after I rototilled the ground and it got wet from the recent rains, with more to come I hear. Can’t wait to begin to follow your blog and you page. Wonderful photos!

  • Everything’s blooming – the days are longer and warmer so I can spend more time outside. Veggies are starting inside for transfer to the garden and the freshly turned soil smells and feels like the very definition of comfort.

  • I am looking forward to landscape a couple of areas of my side yard ….I am reviewing pics and ideas but having hard time finding a good solution. it is a challenging area but I guess it’s part of the fun…

  • I’m so excited for Spring to get my succulents outside,in the northwest I lost to many by keeping them outside.

  • I am completely re-doing my front yard starting with a new stacked rock border and am SO excited. I chose Spring because my very favorite flowers bloom at that time. I want color and at the same time low maintenance! I’m looking forward to the books you suggested.

  • Spring is my favorite season. I use to live in the east where we could look forward to the first blooming of the bulbs. Now I live in California and spring is different – we are much further ahead of other areas in the US but we still have the thrill of the first blooming of the Jacaranda and the freesias. I love the colors and smells of the plants.

  • I’m excited about planting lily of the valleys this year which I am going to mix with canterbury bells.I’m also planting a ton of vegetables and received some tomato heirloom seeds of a species that I have never seen before.Thanks for the giveaway.

  • This sounds fantastic! I’m most excited to see my new bed come to life. I removed lots of gravel the developer had put in and then I planted a new mixed border bed last fall. Can’t wait to see the results! Oh, and to start eating from the garden again! Thanks!

  • We have had a harsh winter here in PA and our garden pond was frozen over and about 8″ thick. We have aerators for our fish and tried to break through the ice to give them oxygen, but as soon as the ice was broken it froze over again. I can’t wait to see if our fish survived and get the waterfall flowing again. Once I hear the trickle of water I will know that the summer is not far off.

  • Here in the San Diego area there are garden shows and wonderful garden tours every weekend for almost 4 months. I am enjoying as many of them as I can fit in. To me that and the longer days mean spring here in southern California.

  • I’m mosted excited about the longer days and more time in the garden!

  • I am excited that spring is almost here (after this horrible winter–10 degrees was the lowest temperature we had; something we are not used to in central Georgia). My Satsuma trees were damaged, but not killed. My asparagus are coming up. In two or three weeks, I will be planting my vegetables. Good thing, because I am down to my last frozen packages from last year. I am excited to be starting flower seeds, too, and I am happily relocating some perennials. Very, very busy in the garden, thank goodness!

  • I’m excited about getting the spring vegetable garden going again.

  • I’m looking forward to everything about Spring!

  • I’m most excited about my new screened porch & waht I’m going to be planting around it!

  • We have had a touch winter here in the midwest. I look forward to the smell of soil and the fun of coming pun my first earthworm as I plant my flower garden! Thanks for the wonderful ideas you provide.

  • Hi,
    I have a huge project ahead me because I moved into a new place with nothing but rocks! It’s always hard to pull up and leave a garden that had become my home. So here I am anxiously awaiting a sore back, raw knees and unsightly fingernails and I really couldn’t be happier……I think. Looking forward to designing and planting my new garden.

  • I am excited to start my spring peas. I am trying a new way to let them vine. Instead of a fence, I am going to push branches that I have trimmed from my fruit trees into the ground. I saw something like that on a facebook post and thought it was a really unique idea!

  • Other than two or three tomato plants, in our 53 years of marriage, my wife and I have never lived in a place where we could have a garden. In the past year one of our daughters and her husband left the city life and moved to an 80-acre farm and we have been invited to have a garden on their farm. Neither one of them are interested in having one themselves. Since my wife and I were both reared on Missouri farms where we were accousted to “BIG” gardens and even truck-patches, we have missed the great tastes of garden fresh produce. Therefore, we have jumped at this chance to do the garden thing once again. Since my wife enjoys canning, the two main items we will grow are tomatoes and green beans. Lots of them. Of course there will be carrots, onions and lettuce for salads. Red potatoes and turnips will have a spot in the garden as well. I am really antsy about getting started, but on this fifth day of spring I sit inside our home in Glasgow Kentucky and watch the snow falling outside the window. I don’t expect to even get to plow up the garden before Easter. But, in the meanwhile we can dream of things to come.

  • I am excited for my irises this year. I collect iris plants here and there, and this year I have some which color is a surprise, can’t wait to see them open.

    I am also excited to finally finish all the planting in my own yard (drought tolerant is the key word here). I finally re-did the irrigation so now it is planting time. I also became bay friendly certified and I am applying all I learned in my own yard, starting with sheet mulching using burlap sacks I got from a local coffee roaster, how cool is that?

    Happy Spring!

  • I’m excited about my new fruit trees and installing a greywater system!

  • I am so excited for our Children’s Garden this year! I have two little ones in tow, 5 and 3 years old. We’ll be planting lots of flowers, culinary and medicinal herbs. Along with their favorite fruits and veggies: peas, beans, potatoes, cucumbers, broccoli, lettuce, melon and strawberries. I am so blessed to be able to have the next generation right next to me in the garden…xoxo happy spring!

  • Excited for the beginning of a new year of gardening in Oklahoma. Never a dull moment!

  • We bought a different home last Fall- this one had very little landscaping. An addition to the patio, and stairs to the upper part of the yard were completed this winter. Lots of planting is taking place right now, and we are in the middle of building a deer fence around what will be the garden area. I look forward to having a garden in my back yard, as in the past we rented a community garden plot with neighbors due to lack of sun.

  • I am looking forward to picking artichokes and peas.

  • I’ve recently moved to a new home, and the previous owners were NOT garden people. The property has the basic blah landscaping and NO flowering anything. I’m patiently waiting for this endless winter to end so that I can get out there and transform my yard into my own garden retreat. I’ve spent the winter reading up on which plants to put where, and appreciate any advice I can get!

  • Everything! We are still under snow and awaiting more later today. I am dreaming of squill, snowdrops and daffodils, even the fragrant honeysuckle has yet to bloom!

  • I am excited about all the unfulfilled potential of spring: my seedlings are just out and everything is new, plans are laid, and I just know that this years garden will be better than the last. In spring, my hopes have yet to be proven wrong, the aphids have yet to arrive, there is no crop failure. Yay!

  • I am looking forward to everything! I start out in the early winter thinking my garden is pretty good and, at most, I will make a few small changes. By the time I get to this time of the year I have full-blown plans to move, add, and trim plants, and reorganize the entire garden! Bring it on!

  • I am truly a beginner and have not been very successful. We live in Florida and everyone tells me that comes with its
    own set of challenges. This desire has come from having grandchildren and wanting them to enjoy exploring the
    garden when they are here just as I did with my grandparents. I have taken the time to graph out the backyard with hopes of filling it with raised beds for veggies, fruit trees, flowers and native plants to call in the critters. Sites like yours keep me excited and encouraged. Thank you.

  • I have been a gardener for many many years and have only read about dibblers but never owned one. I always thought they sounded so quaint and English. I would love to have those and experiment with using them. I live in southern California and even though winter here is subtle I enjoy watching the plants perk up with the longer days.

  • I will be buying all the above books. I am currently working on my friendship garden. This garden is made up of plants, cuttings and accessories that friends have given me. It is amazing how beautiful it is becoming. I am designing this garden on a really low budget just to see what you can do on a dime and it is the gateway to my vegetable garden. This garden contains veggies and flowers. The statues, pots and birdbaths are mine. The chain link fence that exists is now home to moss lined wall containers planted with succulents. I got many ideas from your books, Debra Baldwin’s books, the Western Garden Book as well as other books. It’s fun to to see what others are doing and then take that info and use it and add your own creative touch.

  • I am most excited to see if my new front yard really does use less water; because it sure looks fantastic!

  • I bought my hand made garden dibber in Tasmania in 2004! It was made from a local wood. So happy to see I can buy a set for my daughter in the USA. Thank you, Caroline

  • First spring using my beautiful glasshouse my husband built. Enjoying having place to start seeds; have gone a bit crazy. Also all my citrus are in bloom and it smells heavenly while working.

  • I almost hate to say it…Destruction is at the top of my list this spring. Well, that is right after watching everything break dormancy.
    With our ongoing drought in CA we are taking the step to stop watering half of our front lawn AND remove a Beni Hoshi Cherry Tree that has spread its roots all along the surface of that space. We have loved the tree for years, but are ready to let it go. What will be next for that space? Now, there’s some fun to contemplate! I might need several new books…

  • Thanks Rebecca, I am so glad that there is a book for the younger set. I know a young couple who just bought their first home and I am helping them with plants, this would be a perfect gift for them. Love seeing your blog post in my inbox.

    Diane Ciardello

  • The Plant Recipe Book is the one I’d love to win. As I get older, I go more and more to pots, plus a couple of small raised beds. Love the book idea plus the goodies that go with it!

  • I am excited to just have SPRING come, and see what made it after our COLD long winter,

  • I am excited to see the spring flowers which call me to come and enjoy a new cycle of gardening.

  • It has been such a brutal winter here, I am so excited for my garden to wake up and to see plants come back to life, ahhh the smell of the earth and green growth… heaven!!!

  • I am working on my own Vertical Pallette Succulent Garden I designed.
    I can’t wait to finish all the plantings.
    I am so excited I just could work for hours on it.
    It’s going to be absolutely beautiful. And I am so grateful to be able to do this project. !

  • I just got the sunset landscaping book and I am excited about transforming some of my patio into permeable areas with succulent plantings. Happy spring!

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