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    Celebrating great gardening literature

    Book Awards

    The AHS Book Awards

    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. Books are judged on qualities such as writing style, authority, accuracy, and physical 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.

    Winners of the 2017 AHS Book Awards are:

    All the Presidents’ Gardens by Marta McDowell
    (Timber Press)

    "Thoroughly researched prose and fascinating, historic images tell a refreshingly non-partisan story of how the White House grounds have grown with America,” says Anne Marie Van Nest. “This sort of storytelling and history of one place, one relatively small garden, helps us understand how much gardens do—and should—change with every generation, every family, every new desire of what we need and want from our outside spaces,” says Jenks Farmer.


    book cover imageThe Bee-Friendly Garden by Kate Frey and Gretchen LeBuhn (Ten Speed Press)

    Filled with “practical information that any gardener can use, this book does an excellent job of focusing on a specific, sufficiently narrow subject,” notes Brian Thompson, especially one that has increasing significance to pollinator health. Mary Ann Newcomer appreciates the “wide range of plant recommendations by region, making it a useful resource anywhere in North America.” From its in-depth, insightful discussions to its “layout and photography, it’s a well done book all the way through,” says Doug Oster.


    Garden Revolution by Larry Weaner and Thomas Christopher (Timber Press) 

    Deb Wiley declares this book “has it all: inspirational personal anecdotes and photographs, a deep understanding of horticulture, a fresh take on how to garden ecologically and beautifully.” Thompson praises it for “explaining complex ecological concepts in an easy-to-understand, encouraging way that is applicable to home gardens.” Farmer notes that “it’s more than pie-in-the-sky dreams of naturalistic landscapes,” it’s one he would put to use when making decisions about his own garden.  


    book cover

    PLANT by the editors at Phaidon Press (Phaidon Press)

    “Not only is this book a stunning visual feast,” says Oster, “but it also brims with fascinating details about the botanical art which graces its pages.” Susan Hines describes it as “an art exhibit in book form that provides tidbits of knowledge without being the least bit pedantic.” Newcomer notes that by showcasing different ways of approaching botanical art through various eras, the book also fosters an “appreciation for plants through this art.”


    book coverRock Gardening by Joseph Tychonievich
    (Timber Press)

    Spectacular photography, colorful writing, and detailed plant information combine to bring rock gardening to life for modern audiences that are increasingly interested in diminutive gardens. “The author takes readers through some of the most amazing gardens around the world and shares his own epiphanies from each,” says Oster. “Tychonievich’s enthusiasm shines throughout the book,” says Van Nest, “and readers just can’t help but fall in love—or in love again—with this style of gardening.”

    The 2017 Book Award Committee members were: chair Susan Hines, a garden communicator in Hyattsville, Maryland; Augustus “Jenks” Farmer, garden book author and plantsman based in the Columbia, South Carolina, area; Mary Ann Newcomer, a garden communicator in Boise, Idaho; Doug Oster, Home & Garden editor for the Pittsburgh Tribune-Review, television host, and radio personality based in Pennsylvania; Brian Thompson, manager and curator of the Elisabeth C. Miller Library at the University of Washington Botanic Gardens in Seattle; Deb Wiley, garden writer, editor, and book project manager in Des Moines, Iowa, and Anne Marie Van Nest, a garden communicator and horticulturist in the Niagara Falls area of New York.
    The 2017 Book Awards were presented on Thursday, June 8 during the Great American Gardeners Awards Ceremony and Banquet at River Farm. A list of previous AHS Book Award winners is available here.