100 books like The Brother Gardeners

By Andrea Wulf,

Here are 100 books that The Brother Gardeners fans have personally recommended if you like The Brother Gardeners. Shepherd is a community of 11,000+ authors and super readers sharing their favorite books with the world.

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Book cover of Moving Heaven and Earth: Capability Brown's Gift of Landscape

Roderick Floud Author Of England's Magnificent Gardens: How a Billion-Dollar Industry Transformed a Nation, from Charles II to Today

From my list on the history of the gardening industry.

Why am I passionate about this?

I love visiting other people’s gardens, great and small. There are many thousands throughout England but, as I surveyed the beauty of the lakes and rolling lawns of one of them, I was struck by a question: how much did it cost? I found that none of the huge number of books on gardening and garden history gave an answer, so (drawing on my experience as an economic historian) I had to try for myself. Fifteen years later, after delving in archives, puzzling out the intricacies of lakes and dams, exploring ruined greenhouses, peering into the bothies in which gardening apprentices lived, England’s Magnificent Gardens is my answer.

Roderick's book list on the history of the gardening industry

Roderick Floud Why did Roderick love this book?

Lancelot “Capability” Brown and his fellow garden designers transformed the English landscape in the middle of the 1700s. They swept away the formal gardens of an earlier age and replaced them with lakes and long vistas of tree-studded landscapes. Steffie Shields describes the mechanics of the work of hundreds of gardeners but also, with the aid of lavish pictures, describes the beauty which they created—once described as “England’s greatest contribution to European culture.”

By Steffie Shields,

Why should I read it?

1 author picked Moving Heaven and Earth as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

This beautifully illustrated book, with the vast majority of illustrations photographed by the author, makes a fitting tribute to the world-famous 18th century landscape architect Lancelot 'Capability' Brown (1716-1783) in his Tercentenary year.


Book cover of Mr Hamilton's Elysium: The Gardens of Painshill

Roderick Floud Author Of England's Magnificent Gardens: How a Billion-Dollar Industry Transformed a Nation, from Charles II to Today

From my list on the history of the gardening industry.

Why am I passionate about this?

I love visiting other people’s gardens, great and small. There are many thousands throughout England but, as I surveyed the beauty of the lakes and rolling lawns of one of them, I was struck by a question: how much did it cost? I found that none of the huge number of books on gardening and garden history gave an answer, so (drawing on my experience as an economic historian) I had to try for myself. Fifteen years later, after delving in archives, puzzling out the intricacies of lakes and dams, exploring ruined greenhouses, peering into the bothies in which gardening apprentices lived, England’s Magnificent Gardens is my answer.

Roderick's book list on the history of the gardening industry

Roderick Floud Why did Roderick love this book?

The story of the creation, and re-creation, of one of England’s most beautiful—but least known—gardens. Painshill, on the southwestern outskirts of London, was built in the mid-1700s by Charles Hamilton, a minor aristocrat, with money garnered from government sinecures and his wealthy friends. Later admired by Thomas Jefferson, the garden has a large artificial lake, temples, a pagoda, a hermit’s hut, and a fabulous crystal-studded, entirely manmade, grotto which cost the equivalent of £14 million today to build. After falling into decay, the garden has been restored by a dedicated band of men and women, including the author of this sumptuous book.

By Michael Symes,

Why should I read it?

1 author picked Mr Hamilton's Elysium as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

The Hon. Charles Hamilton was one of those extraordinary eighteenth-century gentlemen who, like Lord Cobham at Stowe and Henry Hoare at Stourhead, turned their gardens into works of art.



Inspired by his time in Italy, Hamilton set out to transform the 'accursed hill' at Painshill in Surrey into a pictorial landscape complete with serpentine lake and water wheel, Turkish Tent, 'Chinese Bridge', Ruined Abbey, Grotto and Hermitage. The garden soon ranked with the best in the land but it later lay forgotten until rediscovered in the 1970s. The restoration over the last thirty years or so has been as careful…


Book cover of The Sun King's Garden: Louis XIV, Andre le Notre and the Creation of the Gardens of Versailles

Roderick Floud Author Of England's Magnificent Gardens: How a Billion-Dollar Industry Transformed a Nation, from Charles II to Today

From my list on the history of the gardening industry.

Why am I passionate about this?

I love visiting other people’s gardens, great and small. There are many thousands throughout England but, as I surveyed the beauty of the lakes and rolling lawns of one of them, I was struck by a question: how much did it cost? I found that none of the huge number of books on gardening and garden history gave an answer, so (drawing on my experience as an economic historian) I had to try for myself. Fifteen years later, after delving in archives, puzzling out the intricacies of lakes and dams, exploring ruined greenhouses, peering into the bothies in which gardening apprentices lived, England’s Magnificent Gardens is my answer.

Roderick's book list on the history of the gardening industry

Roderick Floud Why did Roderick love this book?

Louis XIV of France was, like many other European kings and their queens and families, a mad-keen gardener. He had all the resources of his powerful nation, including its army, to help him and the result was the garden of Versailles, probably the most expensive and lavish ever made. It was watered by hundreds of fountains, powered by a set of pumps in the River Seine which was probably the largest machine constructed before the Industrial Revolution. Versailles became the model which kings and aristocrats across Europe aspired to emulate. Ian Thompson tells its history, in detail but in engaging prose. 

By Ian Thompson,

Why should I read it?

1 author picked The Sun King's Garden as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

War-monger, womanizer and autocrat, Louis XIV, Frances's self-styled 'Sun-King', was also history's most fanatical gardener. At Versailles, twelve miles outside Paris he created not only Europe's most lavish palace but the most extensive gardens the Western world has ever seen. The Domaine Nationale de Versailles now covers 2,100 acres (about two and a half times the size of New York's Central Park) but in it's heyday under Louis, the grand parc covered an astounding 16,343 acres. Assisting Louis in all this was a lowly-born gardener, Andre Le Notre, whose character and temperament were as different from those of his sovereign…


Book cover of The Gardens of the British Working Class

Roderick Floud Author Of England's Magnificent Gardens: How a Billion-Dollar Industry Transformed a Nation, from Charles II to Today

From my list on the history of the gardening industry.

Why am I passionate about this?

I love visiting other people’s gardens, great and small. There are many thousands throughout England but, as I surveyed the beauty of the lakes and rolling lawns of one of them, I was struck by a question: how much did it cost? I found that none of the huge number of books on gardening and garden history gave an answer, so (drawing on my experience as an economic historian) I had to try for myself. Fifteen years later, after delving in archives, puzzling out the intricacies of lakes and dams, exploring ruined greenhouses, peering into the bothies in which gardening apprentices lived, England’s Magnificent Gardens is my answer.

Roderick's book list on the history of the gardening industry

Roderick Floud Why did Roderick love this book?

Garden history is largely written about the gardens of the rich and famous, kings, queens, and aristocrats, But most of the population, in many countries, have small gardens, balconies, and window-boxes and tend them as lovingly as do the paid gardeners of the rich. Margaret Willes uncovers their history in Britain over five centuries; it is a difficult task because most working-class gardeners left few or no documentary records, but she succeeds triumphantly. Gardening societies, at which they showed off their prize fruit and vegetables, allotments, the garden cities of the late 19th and early 20th centuries, all have their place, together with the archetypal cottage garden with roses around the door.  

By Margaret Willes,

Why should I read it?

1 author picked The Gardens of the British Working Class as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

This magnificently illustrated people's history celebrates the extraordinary feats of cultivation by the working class in Britain, even if the land they toiled, planted, and loved was not their own. Spanning more than four centuries, from the earliest records of the laboring classes in the country to today, Margaret Willes's research unearths lush gardens nurtured outside rough workers' cottages and horticultural miracles performed in blackened yards, and reveals the ingenious, sometimes devious, methods employed by determined, obsessive, and eccentric workers to make their drab surroundings bloom. She also explores the stories of the great philanthropic industrialists who provided gardens for…


Book cover of A Little History of British Gardening

Marta McDowell Author Of Unearthing the Secret Garden: The Plants and Places That Inspired Frances Hodgson Burnett

From my list on the English love of gardening.

Why am I passionate about this?

My husband sums up my biography as “I am, therefore I dig.” I live, garden, read and write in Chatham, New Jersey, and have had a long, open love affair with the gardening style “across the pond.” At the New York Botanical Garden I teach English garden history, and I’m a regular contributor to the British gardening journal, Hortus. In my writing, I follow the relationship between the pen and the trowel, that is authors and their gardens. I’ve written books about children’s authors Beatrix Potter and Frances Hodgson Burnett, and, as you might imagine, the research trips to the UK were a special bonus.

Marta's book list on the English love of gardening

Marta McDowell Why did Marta love this book?

To understand the British love of gardening, I put Jenny Uglow’s chatty book top of the list. Reading her prose is like listening to a favorite teacher, one who tells a good story while slipping in the pertinent facts.  "If I were a crow, flying across Britain in the 10th century,” she writes, “I would see forest and fields, iron forges and salt pans, small towns and settlements - occasionally I could circle over a deep park, or swoop down and feed on an orchard of ripe fruit, or pull worms from the newly turned earth in a small allotment."  She takes us from Roman villas and monastery herbers to palace gardens, Sissinghurst’s herbaceous borders, and the futuristic Eden Project.  She loves her subject, and so will you.

By Jenny Uglow,

Why should I read it?

1 author picked A Little History of British Gardening as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

Did the Romans have rakes? Did the monks get muddy? Did the potato seem really, really weird when it arrived on our shores?

This lively 'potted' history of gardening in Britain takes us on a garden tour from the thorn hedges around prehistoric settlements to the rage for decking and ornamental grasses today. It tracks down the ordinary folk who worked the earth - the apprentice boys and weeding women, the florists and nursery gardeners - as well as aristocrats and grand designers and famous plant-hunters. Coloured by Jenny Uglow's own love for plants, and brought to life in the…


Book cover of A Rage for Rock Gardening: The Story of Reginald Farrer, Gardener, Writer & Plant Collector

Marta McDowell Author Of Unearthing the Secret Garden: The Plants and Places That Inspired Frances Hodgson Burnett

From my list on the English love of gardening.

Why am I passionate about this?

My husband sums up my biography as “I am, therefore I dig.” I live, garden, read and write in Chatham, New Jersey, and have had a long, open love affair with the gardening style “across the pond.” At the New York Botanical Garden I teach English garden history, and I’m a regular contributor to the British gardening journal, Hortus. In my writing, I follow the relationship between the pen and the trowel, that is authors and their gardens. I’ve written books about children’s authors Beatrix Potter and Frances Hodgson Burnett, and, as you might imagine, the research trips to the UK were a special bonus.

Marta's book list on the English love of gardening

Marta McDowell Why did Marta love this book?

In 2007 I worked in two gardens in the UK: Rosemoor, a Royal Horticultural Society garden in Devon, and London’s Chelsea Physic Garden. I was smitten by the miniature rock plants, displayed in pots in the gravel bed of Rosemoor’s Alpine House, and set into the odd, antique Pond Rockery at the Physic Garden. Shulman’s glib, tiny book reminds me of those jewel-like plantings. It focuses on the founding father of British alpine gardening, Reginald Farrer, a plant collector, writer, and swashbuckling adventurer. His method for seeding his cliffside garden in the Yorkshire Dales was my favorite episode; he loaded his gun with seeds he had collected in the Himalayas, took aim at the cliff, and pulled the trigger. Note: I haven’t tried this at home.

By Nicola Shulman,

Why should I read it?

1 author picked A Rage for Rock Gardening as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

A new edition of Nicola Shulman's miniature masterpiece about the life of gardener Reginald Farrer A hundred years ago, there was a revolution in British gardening, as the garden changed from being a diversion of dukes to the hobby of millions. Few figures were more prominent in this renaissance than Reginald Farrer, whose passion for alpines, the most demanding of plants, would inspire generations with a love of flowers. He was the man who put a rockery in every back garden. Tormented by physical and emotional misfortune, Farrer was one of those 'born to endless night'. Yet in the realm…


Book cover of Botany for Gardeners

Daryl Beyers Author Of The New Gardener's Handbook: Everything You Need to Know to Grow a Beautiful and Bountiful Garden

From my list on for new gardeners.

Why am I passionate about this?

As a gardening instructor and designer, I've been recommending these five books for years. They were the core texts of the Fundamentals of Gardening course I've been teaching at the New York Botanical Garden for over a decade. Since the publication of The New Gardener’s Handbook, which covers all these topics in a more abbreviated way, I still recommend these five books to my students if they want to dig deeper. These books are what I call “keeper texts.” I own fewer and fewer actual gardening books these days, but it's a fact that a copy of each of these excellent resources resides on my office bookshelf where I refer to them frequently. 

Daryl's book list on for new gardeners

Daryl Beyers Why did Daryl love this book?

I’ve been recommending Brian Capon’s Botany for Gardeners to my gardening students for years. Unlike your typical botany textbook, it’s written expressly for gardeners, which means it presents all you need to know about botany if you are a gardener, not a scientist or a botany student. The presentation is clear, concise, and conversational, so it feels like learning about botany from a friend…a really smart friend! This book will either take you as far as you need to go in botany, or it will open you up to the world of botany and inspire you to learn more. 

By Brian Capon,

Why should I read it?

1 author picked Botany for Gardeners as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

For two decades readers around the world have been fascinated by Brian Capon's crystal-clear descriptions of how plants work. What happens inside a seed after it is planted? How do plants use each other - and animals - to survive? How do they reproduce, and how do they transform nutrients into growth? "Botany for Gardeners" is the most complete, compact, and accessible introduction to the world of botany available. The new edition has been expanded with dazzling scanning electron microscope photographs and even more amazing facts about plants. Especially timely are new essays on food plants: what makes plants edible,…


Book cover of The Garden of Invention: Luther Burbank and the Business of Breeding Plants

William Alexander Author Of The $64 Tomato: How One Man Nearly Lost His Sanity, Spent a Fortune, and Endured an Existential Crisis in the Quest for a Perfect Garden

From my list on a gardening life.

Why am I passionate about this?

William Alexander’s best-selling gardening memoir, The $64 Tomato: How One Man Nearly Lost His Sanity, Spent a Fortune, and Endured an Existential Crisis in the Quest for a Perfect Garden has been praised for its fresh, humorous, and honest take on home gardening. The books he’s selected similarly break the mould for garden books, featuring rabid rose gardeners, an obsessive breeder, and a Czech playwright.

William's book list on a gardening life

William Alexander Why did William love this book?

Gardening, whether in a backyard or a hundred-acre orchard, is an audacious attempt to improve on nature, and Smith’s fascinating hybrid of biography, history, and botany brings to life the most audacious of them all. The only biography on my list, I’ve included it because, in an age where we might be forgiven for thinking it takes millions of corporate dollars and genetic engineers to produce a new plant, The Garden of Invention reminds us how one man’s singular determination, patience, and brilliance can change the world. And produce the perfect potato for McDonald’s French fries.

By Jane S. Smith,

Why should I read it?

1 author picked The Garden of Invention as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

The wide-ranging and delightful history of celebrated plant breeder Luther Burbank and the business of farm and garden in early twentieth- century America

At no other time in history has there been more curiosity or concern about the food we eat-and genetically modified foods, in particular, have become both pervasive and suspect. A century ago, however, Luther Burbank's blight-resistant potatoes, white blackberries, and plumcots-a plum-apricot hybrid-were celebrated as triumphs in the best tradition of American ingenuity and perseverance. In his experimental grounds in Santa Rosa, California, Burbank bred and cross-bred edible and ornamental plants-for both home gardens and commercial farms-until…


Book cover of Second Nature: A Gardener's Education

Jenny Price Author Of Stop Saving the Planet!: An Environmentalist Manifesto

From my list on revolutionize how Americans think about nature.

Why am I passionate about this?

I’m a writer, artist, and historian, and I’ve spent much of my career trying to blow up the powerful American definition of environment as a non-human world “out there”, and to ask how it’s allowed environmentalists, Exxon, and the EPA alike to refuse to take responsibility for how we inhabit environments. Along the way, I’ve written Flight Maps: Adventures with Nature in Modern America and "Thirteen Ways of Seeing Nature in LA"; co-founded the LA Urban Rangers public art collective; and co-created the “Our Malibu Beaches” phone app. I currently live in St. Louis, where I’m a Research Fellow at the Sam Fox School at Washington University-St. Louis. 

Jenny's book list on revolutionize how Americans think about nature

Jenny Price Why did Jenny love this book?

A self-critical and often hysterically funny account of what happens when you plant a garden to be “one with nature” and nature has other ideas. Still my favorite Pollan book (his first!), which is saying a lot. Favorite bit: his journey from “living in harmony” with a resident groundhog to an albeit ill-considered act of firebombing.

By Michael Pollan,

Why should I read it?

2 authors picked Second Nature as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

An account of one man's experience in his garden.


Book cover of My Weeds: A Gardener's Botany

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

From my list on gaining garden know-how.

Why am I passionate about this?

When I was studying plant science in graduate school, I realized that what I really wanted to do was not lab research but to help people understand plants better so they could grow more beautiful and bountiful gardens. To this end, I have written several books, founded the San Francisco League of Urban Gardeners (SLUG), taught horticulture at City College of San Francisco for several decades, and, since 2006, written a column on gardening for the SF Chronicle. My list of books about gardening know-how will painlessly prepare you to grow plants well.

Pam's book list on gaining garden know-how

Pam Peirce Why did Pam love this book?

While you will learn much about the nature and management of weeds from this book, you will also find yourself painlessly learning the basics of botany-- the parts of plants, how they live, how seeds evolved, how ecosystems evolve. While she keeps weeds at bay, Stein favors a garden, as do I, in which the desirable plants may self-sow a bit. It is a gardening philosophy that is current and can produce lovely, serendipitous gardens. 

By Sarah B. Stein,

Why should I read it?

1 author picked My Weeds as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

The author of this work tells readers what weeds tell us about our gardens and the lives of all plants. She compares weeding tools and methods, and discusses the uses of weeds.


5 book lists we think you will like!

Interested in gardening, botany, and London?

11,000+ authors have recommended their favorite books and what they love about them. Browse their picks for the best books about gardening, botany, and London.

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