There’s a huge amount of information out there to inspire and help us in our gardening efforts; but it can be tough to sift through, and there’s only so much time.
I’ve listed some of my favorite research sites and books below, but urge you to take a little time to find your own list made up of go-to references and a couple voices you trust and enjoy reading. We need both as gardeners. I hope it is helpful to you.
Go-To Horticultural Information:
UMD Home and Garden Information Center
Educational gold mine for Maryland/Mid-Atlantic Gardeners.
Missouri Botanical Garden Plant Finder
If I’m looking up a plant online, I’m usually looking here first.
World Flora Online
This is a working list of all known plant species (and their synonyms) put together by botanical institutions worldwide, including Missouri Botanical Garden and Kew. It picks up where The Plant List left off in 2013. An excellent reference when you’re trying to figure out the latest taxonomic gymnastics of your favorite species. Note: No common names allowed!
Ohio State University Extension
Excellent database of fact sheets for the home gardener.
USDA Natural Resources Conservation Service
Good resource for the North American gardener looking for a plant’s native/invasive status.
USDA Plant Hardiness Map
Don’t know your zone? Plug in your zip code and you’ll get it.
Rutgers Ratings of Plant Deer Resistance
When deer are responsible for your alcoholism, this list might help in planting smarter.
Witty, informative and often wise, Gardenrant is a guilty pleasure that I’m not giving up anytime soon. Plus I’ve recently been christened a Ranter, how can I not respect and love them?
An excellent collection of challenging, entertaining and exciting garden writing, contributed by some of the very best garden writers worldwide, and edited by Anne Wareham of The Veddw in Wales.
A wise team of gardening women in North America with specialties in many fields of horticulture – resulting in a great website filled with excellent, seasonally relevant information.
Popular worldwide gardening forum and chat site.
Peaceful Valley Farm Supply – Organic catalog site with seeds, plants, equipment and great advice.
Renee’s Garden Seeds – A terrific place to buy seeds (many of which you will find in local nurseries). New, old, innovative, traditional…you’ll find it here. The catalog is online only, but the amount of information on each seed packet is incredibly helpful to the gardener. The gorgeous watercolor images are just gravy.
Heirloom Seeds – Open pollinated seeds for the gardener who wants to confidently collect their own seeds in the fall.
Baker Creek Rare Seeds – Go ahead and order their beautiful catalog. It will become a reference book in your library. Baker Creek carries seeds from all over the world and is a go to when I’m looking for an unusual edible.
Brent and Becky’s Bulbs – I have a special place in my heart for these wonderful people and their fabulous selection of bulbs. This is their passion and gardeners all over the world have trusted them for decades.
Van Engelen – Another great bulb company. If you get their print catalog, there’s no messing around with pretty pictures – just categorized lists of wonderful bulbs (and excellent sales in the late fall!).
Forest Farm – Not only a wonderful database for unusual plants, but a place to buy them too.
Plant Delights – Each January, a nursery friend and I get together with our mutual friends, Gin and Tonic, build a fire in the fireplace and dream over this catalog. Unbelievable selection (particularly for shade) from all over the world, but even if you weren’t into rare plants, Tony Avent’s irreverent descriptions of some of his favorites are so very worth the read.
Camellia Forest – Woody paradise for camellias, rare trees and shrubs. I came, I saw, I wanted.
American Meadows – Online nursery with a strong commitment to natives, bulbs, seeds and wildflowers. You’ll find strong healthy plants, lots of growing information and a wonderful staff ready to answer all your questions.
Sometimes you just want a book. Or several thousand. My personal library is extensive and constantly reminds me that many of the experts out there don’t have time to blog, update, tweet, share, pin and post – they’re too busy compiling incredible reference books. Here are a (very) few of my favorites broken down by categories – some old, some new, all wonderful:
General Flower Gardening:
Christopher Lloyd’s Flower Garden – Christopher Lloyd
When Perennials Bloom – Tomasz Anisko
What Plant Where – Roy Lancaster
Color Echoes – Pamela Harper
Designing with Perennials – Pamela Harper
Taylor’s Guide to Growing North America’s Favorite Plants – Barbara Ellis
Essential Perennials – Ruth Rogers Clausen & Thomas Christopher
Garden Flowers from Seed – Christopher Lloyd and Graham Rice
Dirr’s Hardy Trees and Shrubs – Michael Dirr
The Principles of Gardening – Hugh Johnson
The Complete Gardener – Monty Don
Rodale’s Garden Problem Solver – Rodale Press
Botanical Latin – William T. Stern
AHS Encyclopedia of Plants & Flowers – Christopher Brickell (ed.)
Hortus Third – Cornell University
Garden-pedia: An A-to-Z Guide to Gardening Terms – Maria Zampini & Pamela Bennett
Shrubs and Hedges – Eva Monheim
Secrets of Plant Propagation – Lewis Hill
General Vegetable Gardening:
The New Victory Garden – Bob Thompson
The New Kitchen Garden – Anna Pavord
The Vegetable Gardener’s Bible – Edward C. Smith
Growing Seeds and Vegetables from Seed to Harvest – Terry and Mark Silber
Square Foot Gardening – Mel Bartholomew
Backyard Foraging – Ellen Zachos
The Countryside Cookbook – Gail Duff
The Backyard Beekeeper – Kim Flottum
Newcomb’s Wildflower Guide – Lawrence Newcomb
The Field Guide to Mushrooms – William S. Thomas
The simple pleasures of gardening:
The Living Garden – George Ordish
Gardening Mad – Monty Don
Thomas Jefferson – The Garden and Farm Books – Robert C. Baron
The Founding Gardeners – Andrea Wulf
Deep-Rooted Wisdom – Jenks Farmer
In The Garden – Hugh Johnson