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Janet Laminack: Books for plant lovers


And just like that, it’s Christmas time. To help you out with your shopping, I have some suggestions of gardening books that might be just what you or the gardener in your life need. These are some of my favorites; there are many great books out there.

One of my go-to books for landscape plants in our area is Easy Gardens for North Central Texas by Steve Huddleston and Pamela Crawford. This book has lovely photographs and suggested combinations of plants. It rates plants as blue ribbon performers and also lets you know the blooming period for plants, shrubs and trees.

For identifying plants in pastures and rangelands, Range Plants of North Central Texas by Ricky Linex is excellent. Color photographs show different stages of the life cycle of the plant. Additionally, it has information on the value or management of each plant.

If you are looking for a calendar-based garden book, one that tells you what task to do when, I have a couple of suggestions for you. Doug Welsh’s Texas Garden Almanac by Douglas F. Welsh and Neil Sperry’s Lone Star Gardening by Neil Sperry are both worth checking out.

I wouldn’t be a good Aggie if I didn’t mention some of the books written by Texas A&M AgriLife Extension personnel. The Texas Peach Handbook by Jim Kamas and Larry Stein is a newly revised guide for both commercial and residential peach growers. From my experience, most people get into gardening to grow the perfect tomato. Therefore, The Texas Tomato Lover’s Handbook by William D. Adams is a must for anyone into vegetable gardening!

If you are growing vegetables, there always comes a time when you have too many of something (read: zucchini) and no more ideas on what to do with it. Serving Up the Harvest: Celebrating the Goodness of Fresh Vegetables by Andrea Chesman was given to me a few years ago and I love it. This cookbook is organized by seasons and divided into recipes by vegetable. For advanced cooks, this might not be that helpful, but it opened my eyes to some new ways to use some of the garden’s bounty.

For youth educators, the Junior Master Gardener curriculum encourages a love of gardening and an appreciation of the environment through hands-on group or individual learning experiences. There are several options available depending on the theme or age group you are working with, such as Literature in the Garden or Wildlife Gardener.

If you are looking for children’s literature to spark the imagination of budding horticulturists, the Junior Master Gardener Program and the American Horticultural Society select “Growing Good Kids — Excellence in Children’s Literature” titles every year. Past winner I Will Never, Not Ever Eat a Tomato by Lauren Child is about a picky eater who gets tricked into eating vegetables by her creative brother. The Ugly Vegetables by Grace Lin is about a girl who thinks her mother’s garden is the worst in the neighborhood, until she realizes it produces food that everyone appreciates. Tops and Bottoms by Janet Stevens gets kids thinking about vegetables that grow above ground or below ground using the classic ruse of a clever rabbit tricking a lazy bear. And The Gardener by Sarah Stewart is geared for children ages 9-12 and is a series of letters written by a young girl gardening on a city rooftop.

This is just a small sampling of the plethora of reading material available for gardening enthusiasts, whether they are just starting out or have been gardening for years. If you have questions about your own garden or landscape, please visit us at Or reach us at 940-349-2892 or



JANET LAMINACK is the horticulture county extension agent with Texas AgriLife Extension. She can be reached at 940-349-2883 or