Christmas Gardening books

My Horticulture Reading This Holiday Season

The holiday season is a valuable period to get together with friends and family. As a general rule, we can all enjoy at least a bit of time off—and all together for once! But it’s just as important to take a moment for yourself, to do what you want when you want, or even to do nothing at all and simply rest. For me, it’s the season for outdoor play and winter sports. The cross-country skis are ready, the snowshoes too, the ice auger will have to wait a little longer, for the ice to thicken! And when you get home after a long day in the cold, there’s nothing better than a hot beverage and a book.

Since I’ve had quite a busy year, there’s a pile of books on my desk just waiting to be read. I’ve chosen 3 to read over the holidays. The others will have to wait a little longer. Winter can be long in Canada, so I should have plenty of time to catch up before spring!

The Nature of Oaks: The Rich Ecology of Our Most Essential Native Trees

Douglas W. Thallamy

You may already have read bestselling author Douglas W. Thallamy’s Bringing Nature Home or Nature’s Best Hope which brought our attention to the decline in wildlife populations and showed that it is possible to turn our yards into conservation area with the use of native plants.

With The Nature of Oaks, the author follows this majestic tree on its journey though the seasons and reveals to us it’s vital importance to our ecosystems. Each chapter deals with one month and demonstrates the interactions trees of the oak genus have with birds, insects, fungi and other forms of life.

He also guides us to choosing, planting and caring for our very own oak tree in the hopes that we can start the processing of returning these life giving trees to our landscapes.

Microbe Science for Gardeners: Secrets to Better Plant Health

Robert Pavlis

I frequently visit Robert Pavlis’ web site Garden Myths to fact check my articles and am repeatedly amazed by the depth of knowledge it contains on gardening. It presents to us the science behind horticultural concepts so we can better understand them or dispels others as myths. His background in chemistry and biochemistry delve deeper into these ideas than other writers (myself included!).

His books, of which I own many, are all the same. Pavlis backs his writings with up-to-date academic research, rather than simply repeating advice that has been handed down, sometimes over generations, with no verification whatsoever. Not only does he oust common gardening myths. His latest book, Microbe Science for Gardeners: Secrets to Better Plant Health, is much the same as his earlier ones in this sense.

Much has been said in the past years about soil health and about the microbial life it contains. Gardening tips and products are being tooted has beneficial for soil life, often with little scientific backing. Not only does Pavlis teach us about the different forms of life soil contains, but he also gives concrete advice on fostering this fauna and flora and reviews commonly held beliefs about it to assess their validity.

All this with his usual no-nonsense, keep it simple attitude meant to allow us to enjoy gardening rather than it becoming another task to check off our list.


Heather Holm

I am delighted that gardeners are giving more and more importance to biodiversity and pollinators but am often left feeling like we’re not quite understanding the depth and importance of the ecology that exists in our gardens and green spaces, repeating buzzwords rather than having an actual impact. With that in mind, I decided to investigate these pollinators we hear so much about, rather than lump them together into an eclectic group. Where better to start than with the much maligned wasp?

WASPS is Heather Holm’s third book on pollinators (her others, Pollinators of Native PlantsBees and Common Native Bees of the Eastern United States, are available from Pollination Press) and a winner of seven book awards.

This guide, illustrated in color, feature, approximately 150 species of wasps found in eastern North America. Each entry contains detailed information on a specific native plant and the habitat each wasp requires. The book includes full-page profiles of each species, as well as tips on how to identify them and detailed information on their biology, prey, natural history and habitat.

Holm introduces the reader to wasp taxonomy, nesting biology, prey hunting behaviors, diets, anatomy, as well as describing the role of wasps in controlling insect pests and pollinating, while profiling each species.

So, happy reading and holidays to you all!

Mathieu manages the and websites. He is also a garden designer for a landscaping company in Montreal, Canada. Although he loves contributing to the blog, he prefers fishing.

1 comment on “My Horticulture Reading This Holiday Season

  1. Christine Lemieux

    I love your reading list! I have heard so much about Douglas W. Thallamy, I will certainly choose one to read this winter. I am a big fan of Robert Pavlis. You describe his approach so accurately! The fact that Heather Holm made the same list is enough to encourage me to read one of her books, probably the one on bees. Thanks for this, Mathieu!

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