The best books for understanding California Mediterranean Gardening

Pam Peirce Author Of Golden Gate Gardening,  The Complete Guide to Year-Round Food Gardening in the San Francisco Bay Area & Coastal California
By Pam Peirce

Who am I?

If you live in the San Francisco Bay Area, you know that its climate is unique in the U.S. and that there are many microclimates within the region. It’s all mediterranean, as you can tell by its dry summers and mild, wet winters. But near the coast, summer fog carpets the land for weeks and winter is rarely frosty, while inland summers are hot, winter frosts are frequent. I live here and use my academic and first-hand experience with plants to help regional gardeners create year-round beauty and harvests in all of our wonderful, often perplexing microclimates.


I wrote...

Golden Gate Gardening, The Complete Guide to Year-Round Food Gardening in the San Francisco Bay Area & Coastal California

By Pam Peirce,

Book cover of Golden Gate Gardening,  The Complete Guide to Year-Round Food Gardening in the San Francisco Bay Area & Coastal California

What is my book about?

Now in its third, revised edition, Golden Gate Gardening introduces readers to food gardening in California from Eureka to San Luis Obispo, and from the coast inland to the edge of the Central Valley. This mediterranean-climate region is like no other in the U. S. Summers vary from cool at the coast to hot inland, with rain only in winters. The whole region allows year-round production of vegetables, herbs, fruits, edible, and cutting flowers.

This book is an indispensable source of information on all the topics you need for success: what to plant and when, how to start seed, prepare the soil, conserve water, control weeds, and manage pests in less-toxic ways. It is a clear, friendly book that will guide you to garden success and enjoyment.

The books I picked & why

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Plant Life in the World's Mediterranean Climates: California, Chile, South Africa, Australia, and the Mediterranean Basin

By Peter R. Dallman,

Book cover of Plant Life in the World's Mediterranean Climates: California, Chile, South Africa, Australia, and the Mediterranean Basin

Why this book?

There are 5 regions of the world with mediterranean climates. They are similar in having a dry summer and a mild, wet, winter, but they differ in exact rain patterns and temperatures. Peter Dallman has done us the service of analyzing each of them, showing how they compare to California, and what grows in each one. Charts and maps help us compare the regions and understand what we can grow here and why.

Plant Life in the World's Mediterranean Climates: California, Chile, South Africa, Australia, and the Mediterranean Basin

By Peter R. Dallman,

Why should I read it?

1 author picked Plant Life in the World's Mediterranean Climates as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

This book provides a beautifully illustrated overview of the landscapes, vegetation types, and plants of the five regions of the world that have a Mediterranean climate. This climate of mild, rainy winters and dry, warm summers is found in the Mediterranean Basin, the south-western part of Australia, the Cape region of South Africa, Central Chile, and California. The regions are widely separated and the flora of each is distinctive, having for the most part developed independently. Nevertheless, the plants share remarkably similar characteristics which allow them to survive in these unusual conditions. Peter Dallman's non-technical prose is complemented by numerous…


The Random House Book of Indoor and Greenhouse Plants Vol. 1

By Roger Phillips, Martyn Rix,

Book cover of The Random House Book of Indoor and Greenhouse Plants Vol. 1

Why this book?

Written originally for Great Britain, this book (and also Volume II) describes plants that grow outdoors in California's mediterranean climate. You will delight in recognizing old friends and discovering new plants that grow well in our region. There is a photograph of each plant in its native habitat and information on its basic care. An index in Volume II includes the plants in Volume I as well.

The Random House Book of Indoor and Greenhouse Plants Vol. 1

By Roger Phillips, Martyn Rix,

Why should I read it?

1 author picked The Random House Book of Indoor and Greenhouse Plants Vol. 1 as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

The indispensable new reference book for every gardener.

A unique photographic guide to plants that grow outdoors in subtropical climates (from Florida to California) or indoors in areas that have frost in winter. All can be grown outdoors in the summer. Includes introductory chapters on garden and greenhouse cultivation and on the habits of species in the wild.

With details on the history, characteristics and cultivation of each plant, Indoor and Greenhouse Plants is an essential addition to the popular Random House garden series by Roger Phillips and Martyn Rix.

Available in the series:

The Random House Book of Perfect…


Plants And Landscapes For Summer-dry Climates Of The San Francisco Bay Region

By Nora Harlow,

Book cover of Plants And Landscapes For Summer-dry Climates Of The San Francisco Bay Region

Why this book?

An introductory chapter describes our greater Bay Area climate and its microclimates. The plants listed are ones that will thrive in the region with a minimum of summer water. The glory of the book is in the photographs by Saxon Holt, which include close shots for identification and wider shots that will inspire you to combine plants handsomely in your garden. 

Plants And Landscapes For Summer-dry Climates Of The San Francisco Bay Region

By Nora Harlow,

Why should I read it?

1 author picked Plants And Landscapes For Summer-dry Climates Of The San Francisco Bay Region as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

Plants and Landscapes from the San Francisco Bay Region


California Native Plants for the Garden

By Carol Bornstein, David Fross, Bart O’Brien

Book cover of California Native Plants for the Garden

Why this book?

Historically, California native plants were often grown in European gardens before they were accepted into California gardens. Now they are being grown in California for their beauty and frequent drought tolerance. Here you will see photos of plants in garden landscapes with information about the regions in which they will grow, their needs, and their care. 

California Native Plants for the Garden

By Carol Bornstein, David Fross, Bart O’Brien

Why should I read it?

1 author picked California Native Plants for the Garden as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

California Native Plants for the Garden is a comprehensive resource that features more than 500 of the best California native plants for gardening in Mediterranean-climate areas of the world. Authored by three of the state's leading native-plant horticulturists and illustrated with 450 color photos, this reference book also includes chapters on landscape design, installation, and maintenance. Detailed lists of recommended native plants for a variety of situations and appendices with information on places to see native plants and where to buy them are also provided.


Growing Roses in the San Francisco Bay Area And Other Maritime-Influenced Climates

By Bruce Phillips,

Book cover of Growing Roses in the San Francisco Bay Area  And Other Maritime-Influenced Climates

Why this book?

In this book are directions for planting and pruning roses and protecting them from pests, all keyed to the climate of the greater Bay Area. The separate chapter on rose-growing in the fog will be especially welcomed by coast-side gardeners, as will the list of rose varieties rated for the SF Bay Area. Order the book's current edition on the San Francisco Rose Society website using the direct link below. 


5 book lists we think you will like!

Interested in California, the Mediterranean, and houseplants?

7,000+ authors have recommended their favorite books and what they love about them. Browse their picks for the best books about California, the Mediterranean, and houseplants.

California Explore 256 books about California
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And, 3 books we think you will enjoy!

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