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Who doesn’t love getting books as gifts? In our house we go so far as to provide constantly updated lists of ‘wanted’ books for each other so we’re never stuck for a birthday present or a spontaneous gift. Christmas is a good reason to give (and get) even more books than usual. Books as gifts can even be read (carefully) before wrapping them up and giving them away (I know, that’s a really bad thing).  Below are a selection of books that I have really enjoyed this year – not necessarily this year’s publications – but really interesting, entertaining, informative stuff.

img_0575Heritage Fruits and Vegetables. Author Toby Musgrave Photographer Clay Perry. If you’re interested in old varieties, intrigued by their history, cultivation and folklore, and you appreciate stunningly beautiful photography – this is a book for you. Exquisitely presented this is a book for vegetophiles and fruitophiles (I think I just made those up) to pore over, again and again. Not cheap, but you must know someone worth it. Yourself? Go on, you deserve it.


The Royal Horticultural Society always has an interesting book offer. Below is just one of their books I received this year, and I heartily recommend it.

rhsgardenThe Garden Anthology: Celebrating the best garden writing from the RHS. Collated and curated by Ursula Buchan this book collects together thoughts and opinions from over 70 of the best gardening writers, providing wisdom and insights into a whole range of gardener’s interests such as: the kitchen garden; wildlife and wildflowers; gardens; garden design; the environment; plants; people; seasons and the weather. A delight of a book to dip in and out of and, if you’re a novice blogger like me, to remind you of how far you have to go to write something even half-decently engaging.


img_0089An Orchard Odyssey by Naomi Slade. Those of you who read this blog regularly will know I have an average sized housing estate garden but in my head it is a country estate. I had a gooseberry bush and a blackberry until I read this book. Now I have a plum tree and a quince thriving, and an apple and cherry tree planned for next year, thanks to Naomi Slade. A brilliant resource book for fruit lovers and growers, no matter how novice or experienced or how constrained or lavish the planting opportunities. And remember – if you have five fruit trees – you’ve got an orchard!


And no list of books for Christmas would be complete without this one. I make no apology for being predictable and joining the throng of people who tune into Gardener’s World on Fridays at least partly to catch a glimpse of Nigel, and I confess to following him on Twitter too. Iimg_0091 have no pets and so the vicarious dog-owning experience gives me the highs and lows without the expense or the cleaning up! It’s a smile of a book; funny and poignant in turn, and always engaging. A lovely stocking filler for those who are keen on dogs – or on Monty!

I hope this little browse through my bookshelf has given you some ideas. And don’t forget that every month I add the latest book I’ve picked up to the ‘I’m reading…’ page of this blog.

The Optimistic Gardener