My Summer Reading List: Part 1

Whew. Hot today! I was sweating like August out there while I mowed my lawn. It feels like summer, even though it’s spring. It is spring, isn’t it? I didn’t fall asleep and miss something like, May, June, and July, did I?

I didn’t? Good. Because I still have a lot of spring gardening to do, and I’m putting together my Summer Reading List.

I know it seems like I should really have a Winter Reading List since there’s virtually nothing to do in the garden through most of winter, but I don’t. I have a Summer Reading List because when we were kids, we always joined the library’s summer reading program the minute school was finished. So summertime equals reading time for me, regardless of how busy I am in the garden.

Besides, like most gardeners, I harbor illusions that once I get through spring and the flurry of weeding, mulching and planting, I will have nothing but time, quiet time, to relax in a hammock in my perfect summer garden and read a book or two or three while sipping on some iced tea.

Here’s what I’ve got on my list so far:

The Brother Gardeners: Botany, Empire and the Birth of an Obsession by Andrea Wulf.

“This is the fascinating story of a small group of eighteenth-century naturalists who made Britain a nation of gardeners and the epicenter of horticultural and botanical expertise. It’s the story of a garden revolution that began in America.”

I like history and am envious of the amount of attention gardening gets in Great Britain, so this should be an enjoyable book to start my summer off with.

The Garden of Invention: Luther Burbank and the Business of Breeding Plants by Jane S. Smith.

“The road from the nineteenth-century farm to twenty-first-century agribusiness is full of twists and turns, of course, but a good part of it passed straight through Luther Burbank’s garden. The Garden of Invention is a colorful and engrossing examination of the intersection of gardening, science, and business in the years between the Civil War and the Great Depression.”

I remember reading about Luther Burbank in elementary school, probably in the fifth grade. That was the year we had a science book that had four pictures on the cover, in a quadrant. The upper right picture was of the inside of a greenhouse. I stared at that picture all the time and thought how wonderful it would be to work in a greenhouse someday. (It would be hot, as I later found out.)

Flowers and Herbs of Early America by Lawrence Griffith and Barbara Temple Lombardi

“This book is a dazzling treat for armchair gardeners and for those who have visited and admired the famous gardens of Colonial Williamsburg. It is also an invaluable companion for twenty-first-century gardeners who will appreciate the specific advice of a master gardener on how to plan, choose appropriate species for, and maintain a beautiful, historic flower and herb garden.”

This one passed the “coffee table test” when I had my family over a few weeks ago for Easter. I left it out on the coffee table, and watched as my older sister, a brother-in-law and several others picked it up and slowly turned the pages of it, admiring all the full page color photographs of the flowers included in the book. In fact, my sister mentioned just “taking it”, because she’s been to Williamsburg several times and loves it there, and I’ve never been. Ha! Maybe after I read it, she can borrow it. Maybe.

So those are the first three books I plan to read and review this summer. Anyone else putting together a summer reading list? What other books should I consider?


  1. I am hoping to get the Brothers book. Always good to have something to read in the summer when its too hot to do anything else.

  2. Ooh, I have Flowers and Herbs of Early America. So far I've only looked through the photos, which are gorgeous, but I mean to read the info for each flower this summer, too. The Garden of Invention sounds intriguing; I'll see if my library has it.

  3. Carol, that's a pretty heavy list for summer. I'm impressed. I have the Brothers book and Wicked Plants. I can't wait to read them both. Oh, and I bought 75 Interesting Plants for Your Garden and 100 Vegetables and Where They Came From. I bought the last two for research for an article I'm writing. I like them a lot. I think I need that Williamsburg book.~~dee

  4. Sounds like a great list. Not sure what I'll be reading this summer, but it will be something as I leisurely enjoy my garden with a wine glass in hand. After, you say,"I get through spring and the flurry of weeding, mulching and planting."

  5. I'm with you in fantasizing that I'll have time to read just like we did when school let out! I got the "Brothers" for my birthday and also have "Our Life In Gardens" plus assorted second-hand volumes waiting on the shelf. Lots of rain here, so maybe I can get started on something while I'm waiting for it to stop.

  6. Summer reading...I plan to read best selling mysteries, easy to put down and pick up! That way I can head out to the garden and not be teased to stay inside by a good book! As if they could stop me! Gail


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