Santa’s On His Way – With Gardening Books

Be prepared this year when your loved ones ask you what you want for Christmas. Present them with a list of gardening-related books that would help make your library more complete.

The newest book to make my list of favorite books for successful gardening in South Texas is “Drip Gardening” by Tom Harris and Ron Csehil. It is all your gardener needs to construct his/her own drip irrigation system plus it covers the art of raised bed gardening in a thorough interesting way.

“Drip Gardening” will make the gardener who receives it as a gift more proficient and also reduce his/her water bill. Order the book from

Butterfly lovers need to receive the book “Butterfly Gardening for the South” by Gayata Ajilvsgi for a holiday present. It does an excellent job of interweaving the species of butterflies to the plants they need for nectar and foliage for the caterpillars. The photos show how to arrange butterfly plants to best advantage, and there are also planting plans.

For attracting wildlife to your yard, my favorite book is “Attracting Birds to Southern Gardens” by Pope, Odenwald and Fryling. This book deals with bird feeding, water and bird houses, but its main claim to fame is the account on wildlife plants — what to use and how to use it to maximize birds in your landscape.

Neil Sperry’s “Complete Guide to Texas Gardening” is the best basic gardening guide. It covers all the areas of gardening and has a good listing of plants to use in your gardens and landscape. The photos of plants and other illustrations are attractive and useful. “Complete Guide to Texas Gardening” is readily available in area bookstores and nurseries for $36.95.

The “San Antonio Landscape Care Guide” is a great supplement to “Complete Guide to Texas Gardening” because it is specific to San Antonio gardening. The “Care Guide” is organized by season and features gardening for wildlife, 12 months of color, lawn care and maximizing plant performance with a minimal use of water.

The “Landscape Care Guide” does not cover as many plant options as the “Complete Guide to Texas Gardening,” but it covers those plants that are easiest to grow. You can find “Landscape Care Guide” at many neighborhood nurseries and also at the gift shop at the San Antonio Botanical Garden. It is $8 per copy.

“Home Landscaping Texas” by Greg Grant and Roger Homes is an excellent choice for San Antonians that have a new home to landscape or want to improve their landscape. The book features landscapes designed by San Antonio architect, John Troy. The best feature of “Home Landscaping Texas” is that it is organized by landscaping issue. Identify a special area in your landscape and the book probably has a chapter dedicated to it, complete with graphics. “Shady Hideaway,” “No Mow Slope,” “A Green Screen,” and “Patio Pool” are just a few of the topics. “Home Landscaping Texas” retails for $19.95.

Guidebooks make good stocking stuffers. For butterflies, my favorite guidebook is “Butterflies of North America” by Jim Brock and Kenn Kaufmann. For wildflowers, there are several good choices, including “Wildflowers of Texas” by Gayata Ajilvsgi and “Roadside Flowers of Texas” by Howard S. Irwin. My favorite though is “Wildflowers of the Texas Hill Country” by Marshall Enquist.

Other books to consider include “Texas Trees” by Paul Cox and Patty Leslie. “Texas Trees” doesn’t have many pictures, but the text is useful and entertaining. The authors are both outstanding horticulturists who have filled the book with historical anecdotes to supplement the natural history information for all the trees that are growing in Texas.

“Trees, Shrubs, and Cacti of South Texas” by Everitt, Drawe and Lonard would also be a good gift for someone who is out and about in South Texas. The illustrations are not flashy (drawings), but “Common Texas Grasses” by Frank Gould would also make a great gift for the individual who wants to increase his or her ability to identify the plants around them.

Texas Parks and Wildlife has a great guide to South Texas brush species. It is titled “Common South Texas Shrubs.” The three authors are Richard Taylor, Jimmy Rutledge and Joe Herrera.

Some of the books may be hard to find. Keep in mind that the person who responds to your hints and does the work to find these books deserves a special gift in return.


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