I admit, I'm a bit of a book-buying junkie. My shelves positively groan with gardening books, but step into any decent bookshop and the choice can be overwhelming.
There are books on designing, planting, nurturing and having fun in your garden by well known and not so well known personalities.
And although what book may interest one person can leave another cold, it's helpful in these economic times to have recommendations so you can head for the nearest bookshop or library clutching a "must-read" list.
Read on to find out the favourites on my shelf.
Some are practical, some are inspirational but all have been well loved, and well thumbed. In fact, they are in almost constant use, like a favourite recipe book, so are never lent out.
- Family Gardens by Bunny Guinness: This was the first gardening book I bought about ten years ago and is still my favourite today. It falls into the inspirational category and is packed full of beautiful pictures and clever ideas. But be warned, the gardens it features, complete with plans, are not your average back garden. Even so, and surprisingly for me, I still love it. Gardens include a modern town garden, small city garden and a farmhouse garden. There are also sections like great ideas for sand and water play and how to incorporate pets.
- The Thrifty Gardener by Alys Fowler (a Gardeners' World presenter): Although not aimed at families, everyone can benefit from saving money and, as Alys says, gardening is something you do not something you buy. Even if you don't have a garden, it includes window boxes. I love it for the great ideas, which include using old oil tins, champagne boxes and even bricks for growing plants.
- Wildlife Garden by Martyn Cox: Martyn is a father of two so knows how to encourage children's interest in gardening, which shows in this great book. It is packed full of wonderful ideas, such as making a bird feeder out of an old juice carton, a bird house from a flower pot, keeping nature diaries and how to track animals. There's plenty of ideas in this book to keep children busy and entertained, while teaching them valuable things.
- RHS Simple Steps to Success: Family Garden. At first, this book just seems to skim the subject, covering absolutely everything to do with gardening. But delve a bit deeper and it's chock full of information. It has lovely photographs; a garden dedicated to play is full of ideas if you look, but it's the information at the back that makes this book stand out. It has details of plants for hay fever sufferers, oversized plants, bold and colourful varieties, and those that are best for a sensory garden. The plant guide alone makes it worth buying.
- The Playground Potting Shed by Dominic Murphy: Although primarily written for those running school gardening clubs, this has much to offer anyone vegetable gardening with children. It's broken down into the school year and details what should be planted when, giving pros and cons and recommending the best variety. It also contains ideas for projects such as making a willow tunnel, journal keeping and slug baits. This has been my bible when wondering what to do with the children in our school gardening club, but I'd still have found it valuable if just gardening with my five.
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