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The American Horticultural Society Book Award

Each year the American Horticultural Society (AHS) honors great gardening literature through the AHS Book Award Program. The awards, which are chosen by a distinguished committee of garden writers, began with the announcement of 75 Great American Garden Books as part of AHS' celebration of its 75th anniversary. Awards are chosen and presented to the publisher in the year following publication.

2010 Award Winners

American Horticultural Society Gardening Book Award Winners

 Love to garden, though in truth Tragic's golden acre is slightly unkempt at the moment due to work commitments. Yes, excuses excuses. We just tell the neighbors that we like a wild natural look and feel - they are not fooled in the slightest, particular given recent tiger sightings at the bottom of our block. We also lost several visiting children for some hours,  most embarrassing- though more worryingly their parents weren't too concerned! 
Luckily the kids didn't suffer the same fate as our dear friends to the left whose last act was throwing their camera into the air set on remote to capture their final moment just before the Triffid got them - must get a bit of weeding done

Compensation for missing out on a favorite pastime involves curling-up with a good gardening book at the end of the day and they don't come any better than the American Horticultural Society award winners.

Got to Dig them, Baby.

2010 Award Winners

The Brother Gardeners by Andrea Wulf. Alfred A. Knopf, New York, New York.

"With a well-written and compelling narrative, Andrea Wulf sheds light on a band of 18th century plant-lovers—English and American—who changed the world of gardening," says Irene Virag. "This book is an important contribution to our horticultural heritage," notes William Welch. "Lest you fear the book is set in staid drawing rooms filled with rattling tea cups and powdered wigs, the text is peppered with tales of English playboys on high seas plant adventures, Tahitian orgies, and glimpses into Benjamin Franklin's passion for horticulture," says Scott Calhoun.

The Explorer's Garden by Daniel J. Hinkley. Timber Press, Portland, Oregon.

"This book is a wonderful education in the form of a book," says Marty Ross. "It offers an opportunity to learn about rare and interesting plants, see them beautifully photographed, and read the fascinating stories about collecting them," says William Welch. "I particularly liked the propagation and hardiness comments Hinkley provided with each plant, and I wound up with a way-too-large must-grow list after reading it," says Doug Green.

Parks, Plants, and People by Lynden B. Miller. W. W. Norton & Company, New York, New York.

"In an age where public and common spaces are threatened by underfunding and privatization, Lynden Miller makes a clear case for their continued importance in our lives," says Jane Glasby. "Though this intriguing narrative about the demise and restoration of some of America's best-known urban parks and gardens is New York-centered, the general principles apply anywhere," says Scott Calhoun. "The author offers a lot of great design and planting observations that worked in these public projects, but also would be beautiful in home gardens," says Marty Ross.

Wicked Plants: The Weed That Killed Lincoln's Mother and Other Botani…ed Plants by Amy Stewart. Algonquin Books, Chapel Hill, North Carolina.

"I love Stewart's criteria for inclusion of a plant in this book…..a body count! The histories of various "perps" are entertaining, educational, and spell-binding," notes Doreen Howard. "The book contains stories well told, and I love the illustrations, which are appropriately macabre," says Jane Glasby. "Stewart has uncovered a treasure trove of great plant stories, and relates them with a sense of humor," says Irene Virag.

Citation of Special Merit
The AHS Book Award is given to publishers for a single book published in a specific year. However, this year a Citation of Special Merit is being awarded in recognition of a regularly revised reference that has made significant contributions to horticultural literature over time.
Manual of Woody Landscape Plants: Their Identification, Ornament… Plants by Michael Dirr. Stipes Publishing L. L. C., Champaign, Illinois.

First published in 1975, this volume has become an essential reference for horticulture students, professionals, and home gardeners. The most recent 6th edition (2009) covers more than 2,000 taxa of trees and shrubs. "Dirr's updated edition, the culmination of a life's work of observations and experience, is a delight," says Marty Ross. "His book is a friendly, opinionated masterwork, and a reference I couldn't do without."

2009 Winners

Hardy Succulents by Gwen Moore Kelaidis. Storey Publishing, North Adams, Massachusetts.

“Hardy succulents finally get the close-ups they’ve long deserved,” says Irene Virag. “Saxon Holt’s photographs are a stunning complement to Gwen Moore Kelaidis’s words - together they inform and inspire,” Virag adds. “This book pushes the boundaries beyond what has been done before on this subject,” says Doug Green. “There was a real effort to pay attention to gardeners in colder climates where succulents are a challenge,” notes Tom Cooper. “I was also struck by the effective use of boxes and captions, which have lots of useful information in them,” he adds.

Heirloom Tomato by Amy Goldman. Bloomsbury USA, New York, New York.

“Much like Amy Goldman’s previous award-winning books on melons and squash, this book is pretty enough to be a coffee- table book, but it is also a first-rate gardening book,” says Marty Ross. “It is authoritative without being academic, and its photography and layout are exceptional,” says Scott Calhoun. Jane Glasby notes that this book is “a celebration of biodiversity, with notes on origins and physical details, and best uses with appropriate recipes included.”

Native Ferns, Moss & Grasses by William Cullina. Houghton Mifflin, Boston, Massachusetts.

“This timely contribution to works on native plants gathers information on important but neglected groups of plants not readily found elsewhere,” says Jane Glasby. She also found the book’s appendices useful, “particularly the descriptions and tables about cultivation and propagation.” “Cullina’s plant portraits are fun to read as well as informative, which makes this more than just a reference book,” says Irene Virag. Doreen Howard adds, “It’s a gorgeous book with first-class photography.”

Plant-Driven Design by Scott Ogden and Lauren Springer Ogden. Timber Press, Portland, Oregon.

“This book bucks a big trend in garden design that emphasizes hardscaping over plants,” says Scott Calhoun. “I was particularly impressed by the extensive plant lists and the authoritative, compelling tone of the book,” Calhoun adds. “The authors constantly bring up the idea of drawing influence from nature, reminding us we are all part of something larger,” notes Marty Ross. Tom Cooper notes, “It’s a useful and adventurous book, with terrific photography to illustrate its ideas.”

Citation of Special Merit

The AHS Book Award is given to publishers for a single book published in a specific year. However, the AHS Book Award Committee is also recognizing two reference books, whose various editions have made significant contributions to horticultural literature over time, with a Citation of Special Merit..

The Garden Primer by Barbara Damrosch. Workman Publishing, New York, New York.

First published in 1988, this book has become a gardening classic, presenting a wealth of gardening knowledge in a clear and concise manner. The new edition, published in 2008, builds upon the original’s strong foundation while incorporating the latest organic practices.

Herbaceous Perennial Plants by Allan M. Armitage. Stipes Publishing, Champaign, Illinois.

Like the two previous editions released in 1989 and 1997, the 2008 edition of this treasured reference on perennial plants is a definitive guide to the hundreds of herbaceous perennial species and cultivars known and grown in North America.


Foliage Foliage by Nancy J. Ondra

Publisher Comments
Plant foliage brings drama and structure to the garden with color, shape, and texture all its own. Bright, cheerful flowers may have beauty-pageant appeal that gets noticed by passers-by, but where would all those pretty floral faces be without the stalwart presence of foliage? (read more)

A Natural History of North American Trees A Natural History of North American Trees by Donald Culross Peattie

Publisher Comments
Donald Culross Peattie's two books about American trees were first published in the 1950s. In this beautiful new one-volume edition, modern readers are introduced to one of the best nature writers of the last century... (read more)

Perennial Vegetables Perennial Vegetables by Eric Toensmeier

Publisher Comments
There is a fantastic array of vegetables you can grow in your garden, and not all of them are annuals. In Perennial Vegetables the adventurous gardener will find information, tips, and sound advice on less common edibles that will make any garden a perpetual, low-maintenance source of food... (read more)

Viburnums Viburnums by Michael Dirr

Publisher Comments
With their abundance of flower, handsome foliage, robust constitution, and frequently stunning fruits, viburnums are among the most beautiful and versatile hardy shrubs available to gardeners... (read more)

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