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    Celebrating great gardening literature

    Book Awards

    History

    The American Horticultural Society honors outstanding garden-related books published in North America through its annual Book Award Program, which began with a list of 75 Great American Garden Books as part of the Society's celebration of its 75th anniversary in 1997.

    Each year since then, a distinguished committee of garden communicators selects the award recipients from among the year's new books submitted by publishers. A list of previous AHS Book Award winners is available here.

     

    2015 AHS Book Award Winners

     

    In this program, now more than 15 years old, the books are judged by the AHS Book Award Committee on qualities such as writing style, authority, originality, accuracy, and design quality. Because of this focus on the overall quality of the winning books, the award is presented jointly to the author and publisher of each book. This year’s five recipients, published in 2014, are:
     

    Apples of Uncommon Character by Rowan Jacobsen (Bloomsbury)

    “Elegant and insightful, this uncommon work encourages readers to step out of their apple-comfort-zone,” says Rita Hassert. “Excellence is evident from cover to cover, as is the author’s passion for and knowledge of these fruits,” says Anne Marie Van Nest. “The photos are clear and evocative, creating a portrait of each apple that perfectly accompanies the useful information,” notes Marty Wingate. “The colorful description of each apple is spot on, right down to intimate details you only get from growing it,” says Jeff Cox.

     

    Attracting Beneficial Bugs to Your Garden by Jessica Walliser (Timber Press)

    “It’s a fresh, fascinating look at bugs—an important and unavoidable layer of the gardening experience—that got me thinking about the codependent relationship between plants and insects,” says Susan Hines. The practical, science-based information and good quality photographs that illustrate concepts make this book essential for “new and experienced gardeners alike,” says Jim Long.

     

    Flora Ilustrata edited by Susan M. Fraser and Vanessa Bezemer Sellers (Yale University Press and New York Botanical Garden)

    This lavishly illustrated volume brings to life a special collection of botanical artwork, rare books, and other treasures in the LuEsther T. Mertz Library of the New York Botanical Garden. “It adeptly captures horticultural history through thoughtful, easy-to-understand discussions of the botanical and cultural significance of each piece,” says Hassert. Everything from the high quality paper and appealing layout to the breadth of information makes this an “amazing reference volume,” says Wingate.

     

    The Market Gardener by Jean-Martin Fortier (New Society Publishers)

    This book “fulfills a significant demand for quality information about growing edibles sustainably for profit on a small community-based scale,” notes Van Nest. Building upon the work of others as well as the extensive experience of the author, “the content of this book is superb and very practical,” says Cox. “It would help any gardener create a better place to grow plants,” says Doug Oster.

     

    Weeds of North America by Richard Dickinson and France Royer (University of Chicago Press)

    Staggeringly comprehensive and well produced, “this is a fantastic resource, no matter what kind of gardener you are,” says Long. “I love the way it’s organized—very user-friendly. The photography is masterful and artistic,” adds Oster. Van Nest particularly appreciated that several life stages of each weed from seed to whole plant are depicted with detailed descriptions of each to aid with identification.

     

     

    The 2015 Book Award Committee was comprised of the following seven members: Jeff Cox, a garden communicator and designer in Sonoma County, California; Rita Hassert, a botanical librarian at the Morton Arboretum in Lisle, Illinois; Susan Hines, a garden communicator in Hyattsville, Maryland; Jim Long, garden communicator and owner of Long Creek Nursery in Blue Eye, Missouri; Doug Oster, a garden columnist for the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette and radio personality based in Pennsylvania; Marty Wingate, a garden writer and speaker in Seattle, Washington; and Anne Marie Van Nest, a garden communicator in Austin, Texas.
     
    The 2015 Book Awards were presented on Thursday, June 4 during the Great American Gardeners Awards Ceremony and Banquet at River Farm.