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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.

    Nominations are accepted for the AHS Book Awards each fall. 

    Winners of the 2018 AHS Book Awards are:

    Bees: An Identification and Native Plant Forage Guide

    by Heather Holm (Pollination Press LLC)

    This book packs in a wealth of practical and scientifically accurate information about North American native bee species and the plants that support them. Judges praised it for emphasizing and explaining the importance of plant-pollinator relationships in an accessible, usable format. Catriona Tudor Erler notes that it is “extremely well-written with beautiful photographs, serving as an excellent resource for identifying the different bees in your garden.” Jenks Farmer points out that it also does an “outstanding job of connecting native bees to plants,” to help gardeners select the species that will attract these important insects. Nancy Rose adds that it even includes “in-depth plant information for the majority of the country,” making it relevant to a broad audience. William Aldrich says, “it’s hard to imagine a more complete reference on this topic with such a clear and readable format.”


    book cover image

    Floret Farm’s Cut Flower Garden

    by Erin Benzakein with Julie Chai (Chronicle Books)

    Home gardeners and small scale commercial growers alike will find all they need in this book to produce their own luscious cut flowers through the seasons. Judges found it worthy of recognition because it is an exemplary addition to the literature on the burgeoning “field-to-vase” movement that focuses on promoting locally and sustainably grown cut flowers. This book is “chock full of practical information that is beautifully packaged and easy to read,” Deb Wiley says. Brian Thompson especially appreciated the “author’s in-depth profiles of her favorite flowers, in which she shares her secrets for growing and harvesting them, based on her considerable experience with each.” It also offers “plenty of inspiration for using fresh flowers in innovative ways,” notes Catriona Tudor Erler.


    The Trees of North America: Michaux and Redouté’s American Masterpiece

    New York Botanical Garden (Abbeville Press)

    Contemporary audiences can now experience the first illustrated floras of North American trees, created by European botanists in the 1800s. This elegant book impressed the judges with its unique combination of historical significance, horticultural relevance, and artistic excellence. Jenks Farmer calls this “a comprehensive, well-told history of botanical exploration in North America, coupled with amazing prints that tell their own story of the natural world.” Along with “giving the paintings context, the book also provides interesting facts about each of the depicted tree species,” explains William Aldrich. This is why Deb Wiley feels that the book is “so historic, yet still so relevant and useful. Plus it’s beautiful.” Mary Ann Newcomer agrees, saying, “I consider this book a work of art.”


    The 2018 Book Award Committee was chaired by Mary Ann Newcomer, a garden communicator based in Boise, Idaho. Other members were William Aldrich, past president and Fellow of GWA: the Association for Garden Communicators in Springfield, Missouri; Catriona Tudor Erler, a garden writer and book author based in Charlottesville, Virginia; Augustus “Jenks” Farmer, garden book author and plantsman based in the Columbia, South Carolina, area; Nancy Rose, horticulturist and recently retired editor of Arnoldia, published by the Arnold Arboretum of Harvard University in Jamaica Plain, Massachusetts; Brian Thompson, manager and curator of the Elisabeth C. Miller Library at the University of Washington Botanic Gardens in Seattle; and Deb Wiley, garden writer, editor, book project manager, and Fellow of GWA: the Association for Garden Communicators in Des Moines, Iowa.

    The 2018 Book Awards were presented on Thursday, June 21 during the Great American Gardeners Awards Ceremony and Banquet at River Farm.