100 books like The Sun King's Garden

By Ian Thompson,

Here are 100 books that The Sun King's Garden fans have personally recommended if you like The Sun King's Garden. 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 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 The Brother Gardeners: Botany, Empire and the Birth of an Obession

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?

Gardening is indeed an obsession, which can drive men and women to madness and penury. It is fuelled by competition, the desire to have the latest, most exotic specimen. Andrea Wulf captures beautifully the mania for American plants which swept across English gardens in the 1700s, as the plant-hunter John Bartram of Virginia teamed up with the London merchant, Peter Collinson, to import boxes of plants and seeds into the UK. If they survived the long sea voyage, they were then nurtured by English aristocrats and their head gardeners, at vast expense, before becoming so common that few gardeners in Europe today know where they came from.

By Andrea Wulf,

Why should I read it?

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

What is this book about?

From the bestselling author of The Invention of Nature, a fascinating look at the men who made Britain the center of the botanical world.

“Wulf’s flair for storytelling is combined with scholarship, brio, and a charmingly airy style. ... A delightful book—and you don’t need to be a gardener to enjoy it.”—The New York Times Book Review

Bringing to life the science and adventure of eighteenth-century plant collecting, The Brother Gardeners is the story of how six men created the modern garden and changed the horticultural world in the process. It is a story of a garden revolution that began…


Book cover of The Road to Le Tholonet: A French Garden Journey

Amelia Dalton Author Of Pages from My Passport

From my list on the lives of those who pushed the boundaries.

Why am I passionate about this?

I ‘fell’ into being at sea by chance, through my father’s insistence I join him on a Scottish fishing boat for a week. I discovered I adored exploring unknown islands and lonely beaches, discovering wildlife and resilient small communities. In the 1990’s a female working amongst fishermen and commercial shipping was unknown, it was a wholly male, chauvinistic world. Using these skills I found a job being paid to explore – a dream job, pioneering but frequently lonely and dangerous. It resulted in my expanding the range and world of small expedition ships into areas with no infrastructure, unexplored and uncharted, lonely, empty coasts from the Arctic to Singapore. 

Amelia's book list on the lives of those who pushed the boundaries

Amelia Dalton Why did Amelia love this book?

I have loved travelling with Monty Don on this gentle, thoughtful, and evocative book is a joy. 

In addition to his huge knowledge of plants, he is an informed historian, and writes beautifully. The book is full of surprises as he takes one meandering through the byways of France sharing his passion for plants, places, and interest in people which all come shining through.

By Monty Don,

Why should I read it?

1 author picked The Road to Le Tholonet as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

This is not a book about French Gardens. It is the story of a man travelling round France visiting a few selected French gardens on the way.

Owners, intrigues, affairs, marriages, feuds, thwarted ambitions and desires, the largely unnamed ordinary gardeners, wars, plots and natural disasters run through every garden older than a generation or two and fill every corner of the grander historical ones. Families marry. Gardeners are poached. Political allegiances forged and shattered. The human trail crosses from garden to garden.

They sit in their surrounding landscape, not as isolated islands but attached umbilically to it, sharing the…


Book cover of The Know Maintenance Perennial Garden

John Greenlee Author Of The American Meadow Garden: Creating a Natural Alternative to the Traditional Lawn

From my list on creating successful meadow and grass garden ecology.

Why am I passionate about this?

As an expert in grass ecology and champion of sustainable design, John Greenlee has created meadows not only in the United States, but throughout the world for over 30 years. Some of his most notable gardens include the Getty Museum, the Norton Simon Museum in Los Angeles, and the savannas at Walt Disney’s Animal Kingdom in Florida. In addition to his consulting and design work for commercial and residential clients, John Greenlee enjoys sharing his knowledge by giving several presentations and lectures throughout the year on the use of natural lawns, native grasses, and meadow restoration.

John's book list on creating successful meadow and grass garden ecology

John Greenlee Why did John love this book?

I think this book is one of the best organized and easily digestible garden books out there.

Whether you are a seasoned professional garden designer or just a beginner, this book is essential for helping understand how to put plants together in the garden. Roy’s simple and effective methodology can benefit any gardener's attempts to design successful perennial borders without a lot of jargon or pretension.

Roy’s book is both inspiring and informative. Roy’s influence is felt through some of the Midwest’s finest gardens and his maintenance knowledge can benefit any perennial garden, anywhere.

By Roy Diblik,

Why should I read it?

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

What is this book about?

“A veritable goldmine for gardeners.” —Plant Talk

We’ve all seen gorgeous perennial gardens packed with color, texture, and multi-season interest. Designed by a professional and maintained by a crew, they are aspirational bits of beauty too difficult to attempt at home. Or are they?

The Know Maintenance Perennial Garden makes a design-magazine-worthy garden achievable at home. The new, simplified approach is made up of hardy, beautiful plants grown on a 10x14 foot grid. Each of the 62 garden plans combines complementary plants that thrive together and grow as a community. They are designed to make maintenance a snap. The garden…


Book cover of Gardenista: The Definitive Guide to Stylish Outdoor Spaces

Isa Hendry Eaton and Jennifer Blaise Kramer Author Of Small Garden Style: A Design Guide for Outdoor Rooms and Containers

From my list on inspiring you to design your dream garden.

Why are we passionate about this?

We are garden designer Isa Hendry Eaton and lifestyle writer Jennifer Blaise Kramer, co-authors of Small Garden Style. We love getting and sharing inspiration on good garden design to pull our lives more outdoors. In our book, we show you how to use good design to create a joyful, elegant, and exciting yet compact outdoor living space for entertaining or relaxing. Our stylishly photographed guide is a fun way to create lush, layered, dramatic little gardens no matter the size of your available space, be it an urban patio, a tiny backyard, or even just a pot by your door.

Isa and Jennifer's book list on inspiring you to design your dream garden

Isa Hendry Eaton and Jennifer Blaise Kramer Why did Isa and Jennifer love this book?

We love a garden book that works hard as a guide, and this book does just that!

It’s a handbook that feels like a trusted magazine with real-life garden tours and lifestyle tips such as “Steal This Look” (our fave!) for everything from stone and ironwork to plants and water features. We couldn’t appreciate more the way an author can break down a garden’s style and feel and help us replicate that look we love at home.

Gardenista is a go-to when we want a design refresh!

By Michele Slatalla,

Why should I read it?

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

What is this book about?

Our homes' outdoor spaces can and should be as welcoming and carefully considered as our living rooms; when treated as extensions of our homes, these spaces enrich our lives immeasurably. That was the guiding principle when, under the direction of editor in chief Michelle Slatalla (whose New York Times style columns were weekly must-reads for a decade), the team behind Remodelista.com launched sister site Gardenista.com. Like Remodelista, Gardenista caters to an older, more established audience (75 percent of readers are over the age of 35) and is known for its sophisticated, well-edited aesthetic. The book contains lushly photographed tours of…


Book cover of 1,000 Garden Ideas: The Best of Everything in a Visual Sourcebook

Robert Pavlis Author Of Garden Myths: Book 1

From my list on practical gardening.

Why am I passionate about this?

I love gardening and learning about unusual plants but I find that many gardening books don’t provide a lot of useful advice. I grow over 3,000 different types of plants and have a background in chemistry and biochemisty. I teach gardening to new gardeners and garden design to more experienced gardeners. My students want to learn practical things like solving pest problems and growing plants with more flowers. I am always on the lookout for books that provide them with hands-on practical advice they can use right away. 

Robert's book list on practical gardening

Robert Pavlis Why did Robert love this book?

Many gardeners, like myself, want to create a stunning garden design. The problem is that we are just not creative enough to come up with the ideas on our own, or at least I’m not. This book, 1,000 Garden Ideas, solves that for us. It is a picture book that gives us the ideas we need to create that special garden design. When I am stuck designing a corner of the garden I just start flipping through the book until I find something that will be suitable for my space and my personal tastes. The book makes it easy to be creative. 

The book breaks the ideas down into sections, so for example there is one chapter called pots which shows hundreds of different containers and raised beds, all different shapes, sizes, and styles. This book is just pictures, but it’s fun to flip through it. 

By Stafford Cliff,

Why should I read it?

1 author picked 1,000 Garden Ideas as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

Highly successful author and innovative designer Stafford Cliff has visited hundreds of gardens in the course of his travels over the last forty years all over the world, taking photographs and making notes. With his designer's eye and experience, he has created a revelatory work - a unique sourcebook of the very best ideas providing choices and inspiration for every single garden dilemma and possibility, from colour and planting to hard surfaces and features.For every new choice a gardener wishes to make, for every change they wish to introduce, there is a complete wealth of options - the plants, the…


Book cover of The Art of Outdoor Living: Gardens for Entertaining Family and Friends

Isa Hendry Eaton and Jennifer Blaise Kramer Author Of Small Garden Style: A Design Guide for Outdoor Rooms and Containers

From my list on inspiring you to design your dream garden.

Why are we passionate about this?

We are garden designer Isa Hendry Eaton and lifestyle writer Jennifer Blaise Kramer, co-authors of Small Garden Style. We love getting and sharing inspiration on good garden design to pull our lives more outdoors. In our book, we show you how to use good design to create a joyful, elegant, and exciting yet compact outdoor living space for entertaining or relaxing. Our stylishly photographed guide is a fun way to create lush, layered, dramatic little gardens no matter the size of your available space, be it an urban patio, a tiny backyard, or even just a pot by your door.

Isa and Jennifer's book list on inspiring you to design your dream garden

Isa Hendry Eaton and Jennifer Blaise Kramer Why did Isa and Jennifer love this book?

It’s hard to find a good garden book that’s useful and yet gorgeous enough to keep on the coffee table. We found these two to be wildly true in The Art of Outdoor Living, which is stunning and aspirational, with full-page photos of outdoor spaces that have a dream-like quality.

We want to step into many of the book’s vignettes, from gravel courtyards to cozy fireplace pits to patios designed to perfection. Best of all, there are high to low tips, so while it reads aspirational, it also has an approachable quality to it, which makes us want to curl up with a cup of coffee by the outdoor fire pit we’re now suddenly dreaming up!

By Scott Shrader, Lisa Romerein (photographer),

Why should I read it?

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

What is this book about?

Pools made private by lush plantings, bedrooms open to the back yard, bar seating by the outdoor oven. California native and exterior architect Scott Shrader is known for creating covetable outdoor rooms for clients including Ellen DeGeneres and Patrick Dempsey. In his first book, he shares the grounds of twelve beautiful properties, all designed to be lived in and enjoyed as extensions of the homes they surround, rich with creature comforts. Shrader shows us how to connect the landscape outside with interior decor; resulting in an exterior environment that flows naturally, stylishly and serenely from this core. He also inspires…


Book cover of Japanese Gardening: A Practical Guide to Creating a Japanese-Style Garden with 700 Step-By-Step Photographs

Robert Pavlis Author Of Garden Myths: Book 1

From my list on practical gardening.

Why am I passionate about this?

I love gardening and learning about unusual plants but I find that many gardening books don’t provide a lot of useful advice. I grow over 3,000 different types of plants and have a background in chemistry and biochemisty. I teach gardening to new gardeners and garden design to more experienced gardeners. My students want to learn practical things like solving pest problems and growing plants with more flowers. I am always on the lookout for books that provide them with hands-on practical advice they can use right away. 

Robert's book list on practical gardening

Robert Pavlis Why did Robert love this book?

My favorite garden style is the Japanese garden. It is a simple refined style that is so peaceful and over the years I have learned that you don’t need to turn the whole yard into a Japanese garden. What I do now is use elements of this style in various parts of the garden. The book, Japanese Gardening, will provide you with great insight into various styles of Japanese gardening and make it easy for you to do the same. Add a Japanese walkway into a normal garden and make it special. Or use some of the minimalistic plants to add a calming feeling. This book will give you many great ideas.

By Charles Chesshire,

Why should I read it?

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

What is this book about?

This inspiring book offers expert information on how to create the perfect Japanese-style garden in any location, large or small. It presents the history of Japanese gardens and the principles underlying them. Sections on the five classic Japanese garden styles (pond gardens, dry gardens, tea gardens, stroll gardens and courtyard gardens) explain their key characteristics with practical tips on how to achieve them. Fifteen projects for creating complete Japanese gardens follows, with clear explanations, illustrations and gorgeous photography. A plant directory then details the various types of plants with advice on flowering habits and hardiness, while the final section outlines…


5 book lists we think you will like!

Interested in gardens, France, and design?

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