Go-to gardening books for the Prairies (and beyond!)

Wow!  It feels like spring has sprung here today!  What little snow we had is melting like crazy and we actually had a bit of rain early this morning.  My co-workers and I spent our coffee break talking about starting some tomato seeds and maybe we were a little sugar-buzzed from the pre-Valentine’s Day chocolates and too much coffee, but things got really cheerful…yeah, we’re definitely excited and inspired.  😉

We still have about two (conservative estimate) or three (more like it) months to go before we can get out into the garden proper, but it’s nice to haul out the gardening books and catalogues and get cracking on the planning. I have a few gardening books in my personal collection and regulars I borrow from the library that are definite go-to’s for me.  For the most part, these are all “Prairie” books (hardiness zones 2-4; cold, arid climate), but there are a few more generally Canadian and North American ones that I really love as well.


Lyndon Penner – The Chinook Short Season Yard: Quick and Beautiful in the Calgary Region (also available as The Prairie Short Season Yard)

Lydon Penner – Garden Design for the Short Season Yard

Dawn Vaessen – Perfect Perennials for the Prairie Gardener (See my review here)

Donna Balzar – Gardening for Goofs

Donna Balzar and Steven Biggs – No Guff Vegetable Gardening

June Flanagan – Native Plants for Prairie Gardens

June Flanagan – Edible Plants for Prairie Gardens

Sara Williams and Hugh Skinner – Gardening, Naturally: A Chemical Free Handbook for the Prairies

Sara Williams – Creating the Prairie Xeriscape

Calgary Horticultural Society – Calgary Gardener, Volumes 1 and 2

Calgary Rose Society – Growing Roses in Calgary  (See my review here)

Millarville Horticultural Society – Gardening Under the Arch

Hugh Skinner – The Best Groundcovers and Vines for the Prairies

Hugh Skinner – The Best Trees and Shrubs for the Prairies

Don Williamson – Tree and Shrub Gardening for Alberta (See my review here)

Barbara Kim and Nora Bryan – The Prairie Winterscape

Nora Bryan and Ruth Staal – The Prairie Gardener’s Book of Bugs (Mentioned here)

Jan Mather – Designing Alberta Gardens

Any of The Prairie Garden annuals

Linda Chalker-Scott – The Informed Gardener

Linda Chalker-Scott – How Plants Work

Niki Jabbour – The Year ‘Round Vegetable Gardener

Niki Jabbour – Groundbreaking Food Gardens

Bill Thorness – Cool Season Gardener

Laura Peters – Small Space Gardening for Canada

Melanie J. Watts – Growing Food in a Short Season

David Bainbridge – Gardening with Less Water


Did I miss any cold climate/Prairie books that should be on this list?

No matter where you live in the world, your favourite gardening books might be relevant/practical/inspirational/eye candy for another gardener!  Which books would you recommend for us?  




    • It’s really wonderful that we’re now starting to get a good-sized selection of gardening books for our particular gardening needs on the Prairies – we can’t just be lumped in with the rest of the country, as our climate is so different.

    • I think I ought to! Some species of trees are budding here and the really early flowers are emerging. We’re all frightened that the weather will turn severely cold and cause frost damage. It’s too soon for this….

  1. Excellent books, I have most of these as well, many from my Olds College student days:) One really big surprise was the ones from Lyndon Penner! It has been a very long time since I’ve been in prairie horticulture… I was an assistant grower at a greenhouse in Saskatoon in the early. 90’s. Lyndon Penner worked there as a teen ! He was a very eager young man then and I am so happy to see he pursued his dreams! I will have to check out his books.

  2. I have The Gardener’s Bug Book
    Earth-Safe Insect Control
    by Barbara Pleasant
    I also have The Gardener’s Weed Book
    by Barbara Pleasant on order. It should be here in a week or so. They are both concerned with using organic methods instead of using chemicals.
    I have problems with weeds and bugs as well as everyone else.

    • Great recommendations! I’ve used Barbara Pleasant’s Bug Book on occasion – really useful information. I will have to look up The Gardener’s Weed Book. I’m keen on the idea of organic and biological controls.

  3. Good list. Up here many gardeners are reading “The Right-Size Flower Garden” by local author, Kerry Ann Mendez. She moved from an upstate NY home with large garden to a ME smaller home and smaller garden and this book is about how to downsize if necessary.

  4. In Maine, gardeners are dreaming about their gardens, too. Much colder here than it is in your neck of the woods. This morning, it was dead calm and zero degrees. A perfect time for gardening books and seed catalogs.

      • Culling from this list, Niki Jabbour’s “Year ‘Round Vegetable Garden” is a must if you’re planting veggies pretty much anywhere in Canada. Her writing is really accessible and you pretty much can’t go wrong with anything she suggests. Melanie J. Watt’s book is another fantastic resource if you’re growing vegetables. I love Lyndon Penner’s books – both of them are full of a ton of good info for both novice and experienced gardeners and he has some really practical, useful advice for both ornamental and edible gardening.

  5. I don’ t know any of these books but I always enjoy seeing which books blogging friends recommend.. I have about 380 gardening books so I suppose I don’ t need any more. But of course, need has nothing to do with it.

  6. I have a full gardening library, but I don’t think I have ANY of those! I have several Lois Hole books, some Lonely Pine, but my go-to reference is The Gardener’s A-Z Guide to Growing Organic Food by Tanya L.K. Denckla. I’ll have to check some of these out, too!

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