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Landscape & Outdoor Living #BookReview

Our gardening & landscaping is so unique – local authors are the best!

Desert Landscaping, Design, and Plants

Cool Plants for Hot Gardens Book Cover
Cool Plants for Hot Gardens
The Hot Garden: Landscape Design for the Desert SouthwestYard Full of SunChasing WildflowersHot Pots

General Gardening

Tried & True Classics

The New Western Garden Book: The Ultimate Garden Guide, Sunset Western Gardening Guide | Plants for Dry Climates: How to Select, Grow, and Enjoy, Duffield and Jones

Natural History (the scientific study of plants and animals)

Books for Youth

Coming Soon – Early 2023

Other Favorite Books

1 | Square Foot Gardening by Mel Bartholomew

Mel’s dream was for everyone around the world to have the opportunity to enjoy fresh, organic vegetables. His unique plan for planting vegetables in a square foot grid is a great way to get ample produce from small spaces. These 2 books together provide the how-to’s for square foot gardening and great recipes to help enjoy the bounty.

2 | City Farming by Kari Spencer

Do you live in the city, yet long for farm life? Phoenix author, Kari Spencer, reveals how to turn your urban lot into a city farm complete with livestock and a garden. This book will walk you through every aspect of turning your city lot into an urban farm! Full of practical tips, this will be your go to book for years to come.

3 | Bounty From The Box; the CSA Farm Cookbook by Mi Ae Lipe

This is one amazing and comprehensive encyclopedia of a book! Mi Ae Lipe walks us through selecting, prepping, cooking and even storing fruits, vegetables and herbs. Find out what time of year to expect your favorite produce and unique recipes to help you enjoy them! This is one of those books to keep handy – forever!

4 | The Encyclopedia of Country Living by Carla Emery

This is a must have for anyone who have a love and longing to enjoy the domain of their yard, no matter how big or small, as a labor of love.

5 | Grow A Living Wall by Shawna Coronado

Living walls, vertical gardens, plant stacking, tower growers, whatever you want to call it, it’s brilliant. This style of growing can be applicable to people in small spaces or balcony condos just looking to add a little nature to their life or go a few herbs…which ironically are the easiest thing to grow but most expensive part of your local produce department. On the reverse side, living walls can be utilized as privacy walls or a shade canopy to your home in Arizona’s hot summers.

6 | Yard Full of Sun by Scott Calhoun

This is not your typical “how-to” book, but more the story line of a 4th generation Arizonan bringing all his favorite elements of the desert together in one place…and maybe even going a little overboard with it. At the end of the book the author provides in great detail lists of plant selections, public gardens and arboretums to view and local nurseries to purchase from.

7 | Desert Garden of Steve Martino by Caren Yglesias

When it says “desert garden” it’s not talking about your typical row garden of winter veggies. No, this is the equivalent to what one could imagine a desert “The Secret Garden” would look like. But as written in the forward “so well orchestrated one might imagine his landscapes having evolved naturally.” Every image is a beautiful display on the variety of arid trees, plants and shrubs accompanied by old world styles like cactus fencing, vine covered wall and earth roofs. Not to forget modern convenience like swimming pools and lounging areas incorporated seamlessly in the outdoor living area. If you are looking for a botanical garden type feel, scaled down to personalized yards, this book will provide a plethora of inspiration.

8 | Pollinator Friendly Gardening by Rhonda Fleming Hayes

If you already have a garden, you likely already have plants that attract pollinators. But if you are looking for color and life in to your yard, and not just bees but Butterfly & Hummingbirds too, this book is full of plant ideas along with ways you can help develop their habitat to keep them instead of just passing through. There are a number of experts interviewed and tips to learn about insects, for example “since butterflies don’t have eyelids, it’s doubtful they even sleep!” NOTE: plants in this book are not specific to the desert. Confirm with your local nursery about specific plant success record in the desert before investing in plants that will never bloom.

John Jay’s Garden Book Picks:

  1. Practical Gardening in Southern Arizona by The Valley Garden Center
  2. The New Sunset Western Gardening Book: The Ultimate Gardening Guide
  3. The Diagnosis of Mineral Deficiencies by Visual Symptoms by T. Wallace


Donna DiFrancesco of Rosie Certified ‘Water Use It Wisely’ features some of her favorite books on plants and flowers. Plus, more on landscaping in dry climate deserts that can yield beautiful colors and blooms. Greg Starr of Starr Nursery in Tucson discusses his book ‘Cool Plants For Hot Gardens’. Podcast Archive With Expanded Content and Resources



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