Top Ten Gift Books for Healing Garden Inspiration

I realize I’m a little late getting to this, but here are some suggestions for people who are still looking for last-minute gifts (in addition to things from the TLN store, of course!).

If you’re a gardener like me and you live somewhere cold where gardening in winter isn’t much of an option, then one of your favorite pastimes is sitting by the fire, poring over gardening books and dreaming of spring. And if you’re a designer, what better way to get your clients excited about doing more than planting shrubs in front of their house’s foundation?

These are all books that I own and refer to again and again for inspiration when designing and consulting about healing gardens (including my own). There are more academic and educational books out there, one of which I recommended in the last blog post, and many more of which are listed on the TLN’s References page. We’re working on an “If You Only Read Five” page (still in development) that will list books in categories (inspiration, evidence-based design, horticultural therapy, specific populations, etc.), so stay tuned for that.

These ten books are sure to inspire you, or those receiving them as gifts, to create spaces that are truly nurturing to body and soul. And as a bonus, when you buy from any of the links on this post, you’ll be nurturing the Therapeutic Landscpaes Network, too. Through the Amazon Associates program, the TLN receives a percentage of each book sale. Of course, if you can find the books locally, all the better. But if you must order by mail, please shop through this post! Just click on the title to link to So, here we go. My top ten books for healing garden inspiration:

Peaceful Gardens: transform your garden into a haven of calm and tranquillity by Stephanie Donaldson – A very sweet little book (it really is little, measuring 5.5 x 6.5″) with hundreds of beautiful photographs and great ideas. I like the mixture of garden styles in this book – everything from traditional cottage-type gardens to wild meadows to very modern, spare, contemplative spaces.

The Healing Garden: A Natural Haven for Body, Senses and Spirit by Sue Minter – This was one of my first “healing gardens” books. I really like Minter’s first chapter, “The Healing Arts: A marriage of botany and medicine” for its overview of the history of healing gardens and the therapeutic use of plants and nature. In general, her scope is broad, touching on a lot of aspects of healing gardens, from herbs and organic vegetables to Feng Shui and color theory. A delightful buffet for those who like a little bit of everything. There’s another book by Sue Minter called The Healing Garden: A Practical Guide for Physical & Emotional Well-Being. I’m not sure how it differs from the one above, and I’m sorry to say I don’t have it…yet.

The Healing Garden: Gardening for the Mind, Body and Soul by Gay Search – After a short overview, Search delves into more detail with herbs, both culinary and medicinal; flowers, especially as used for color and scent; water in the garden; and low-allergen gardens. She includes some good plant lists and suggestions for each category, and even a few garden plans.

The Healing Garden: Natural Healing for the Mind, Body and Soul by David Squire (I know, it’s confusing that three different books have the same main title. What are you gonna do.) – Squire, too, starts with a nice chapter that gives some historical perspective, including the Garden of Eden, Islamic gardens, monastery gardens, and tea gardens. His next chapter is something of a surprise: “Does Soil Have a Soul?” He’s got a good point here, which is that everything comes from the soil, so that had better be healthy first. I appreciate this, since nothing is more depressing – and less nurturing – than a garden that doesn’t thrive. After that, each chapter is devoted to one of the five senses: touch; scent; taste; sound; taste; and sight – color, patterns, shapes, and textures.

Sanctuary: Gardening for the Soul by Lauri Brunton and Erin Fournier – This book is all about nature and gardens as sanctuary, and how to find and create sanctuary in your life. I have to say, though I love all of my book-children equally, there’s something particularly inspiring about this one. Perhaps because it’s more than just a garden how-to book, or perhaps because the photos are just so darn scrumptious. As another indication that this is something special, here are the chapter titles: Peace; Change; Passion; Mystery; and Contemplation. It’s one of the few books, along with Derek Jarman’s Garden (below) that calls attention to and embraces death as a part of the garden’s cycle. There’s also a nice section on labyrinths at the end of the book.

A Child’s Garden: 60 Ideas to Make Any Garden Come Alive for Children by Molly Dannenmaier – Wonderful ideas for creating and embellishing spaces that nurture young people. A must-have if you’ve got kids or clients with kids. Or just for the kid in you.

Healing Gardens by Romy Rawlings – I’d say that “holistic gardening” is the main thrust of this book – that to create a garden that is healing for us, we must create a healthy garden. In other words, be good to the earth and she will reward you. After an overview of this concept, Rawlings focuses on the following topics: Feng Shui (a whole chapter, looking at the various schools); color therapy; herbalism, with both culinary and medicinal herbs; aromatherapy; and styles of gardens, including meditation and Zen.

Gardens for the Soul: Designing Outdoor Spaces Using Ancient Symbols, Healing Plants and Feng Shui by Pamela Woods – This book (not surprising, given the title) delves a little more into the spiritual. Woods, who is a dowser as well as an artist and landscape designer, begins with a chapter on garden energy. The next chapter focuses on ancient symbols like labyrinths, medicine wheels, mandalas, and spirals. Woods also talks about how using universal patterns can make us feel more connected to nature the earth.

by Peg Streep – This book, more than any of the others, is about creating sacred space and a place where you connect with your spirit, or soul, though nature. Streep touches on myriad different spiritual gardens, including Zen, Gaia, Celtic, and Biblical, and several different methods of connecting with nature including aromatherapy, Feng Shui, and labyrinths. For those who are more spiritual or even religious, this book more than the other ten will speak to you. But even if you’re not, it’s a good pithy read with lots of great pictures and quotes.

Derek Jarman’s Garden by Derek Jarman – It’s funny how many of the above-listed books refer to Derek Jarman’s garden and have at least one picture of it from this book. It’s one of my personal favorites, too. Not your garden-variety garden book, but truly beautiful, inspiring. and life-affirming.

Did I miss any? Leave a comment and let me know! Always looking for more great inspiration books to add to the list…and to my bookshelf!