The best of this year’s gardening books

Ursula Buchan’s best books include works by authors Jinny Blom, Francis Pryor, Jenny Joseph, Henrik Sjöman & Arit Anderson and Maury C. Flannery.

Photo by Tim van Cleef on Unsplash

Known for her wit and meticulous research, the award-winning writer Ursula Buchan has selected her best of the crop for 2023.

In her article for the Spectator, list with the Buchan nod includes:

  • Jinny Blom – What Makes A Garden (Frances Lincoln) “This book is part memoir, part design manual, part exploration of the senses and part reflection on landscape and the designer’s art”, writes Buchan.
  • Francis Pryor – A Fenland Garden: Creating a Haven for People, Plants and Wildlife (Head of Zeus) “Accounts of how gardens are made and maintained rarely have universal appeal, unless the writing is exceptional or the author has some particular and unusual expertise. The writing here is workmanlike rather than sparkling, but the story it tells is fascinating”, she writes.
  • Jenny Joseph – Led by the Nose: A Garden of Smells (Souvenir Press) “This book would make a good present for a thoughtful, sensitive gardener, especially an elderly one who is tempted both to wear purple and to pick flowers in other people’s gardens”.
  • Henrik Sjöman and Arit Anderson – The Essential Tree Selection Guide: for climate resilience, carbon storage, species diversity and other ecosystem benefits (Filbert Press and RBG Kew) “…this is a reference book – and a very important one”.
  • Maura C. Flannery – In the Herbarium: The Hidden World of Collecting and Preserving Plants (Yale) Professor Flannery’s interest in preserved plants led her to travel far and wide to herbaria, to study plants that have been collected and preserved for over 500 years. “The book is the fruit of her exploration into their vital importance for study (including now their DNA), but also what they tell us about history, culture, aesthetics and ethnobotany” explains Buchan.