Introducing This Year's Recipients
Nominated books are judged by the AHS Book Award Committee on qualities such as writing style, authority, accuracy, and physical quality. This year's recipients, selected from books published in 2012, are listed below. The 2013 Book Award Committee was chaired by Susan Appleget Hurst, a garden communicator in Winterset, Iowa. Other committee members were Brandy Kuhl, head librarian at the Helen Crocker Russell Library of Horticulture in San Francisco, California; Kathy LaLiberte, Vermont-based marketing consultant and garden writer previously with Gardener’s Supply; Rand B. Lee, freelance writer and editor specializing in Southwest gardening, plant history, and cottage garden design; W. Gary Smith, an award-winning garden designer and author in Toronto, Canada; Greg Williams, producer of HortIdeas newsletter in Gravel Switch, Kentucky; and Marty Wingate, a garden writer and speaker based in Seattle, Washington.
The California Wildlife Habitat Gardenby Nancy Bauer. University of California Press, Berkeley California.
“Well-produced, practical, and thorough, this book is a significant contribution to habitat gardening literature,” says Brandy Kuhl. She particularly appreciates its “useful plant lists and appendices.” Susan Appleget Hurst feels that it is an “outstanding model for other regionally oriented habitat gardening books in terms of level of detail and useful specifics.”
A Guide to Bearded Irisesby Kelly D. Norris. Timber Press, Portland, Oregon.
While a plant monograph would be expected to be authoritative and comprehensive, what makes this one truly extraordinary is the author's "unbridled enthusiasm," says Marty Wingate. "Not only will it create new iris fanatics," says Greg Williams, "but it compellingly communicates what makes gardening so captivating."
The Organic Seed Growerby John Navazio. Chelsea Green Publishing, White River Junction, Vermont.
Though this book is aimed at seed producers on a larger scale than the average gardener, all book committee members agreed that the issue at its core—food crop biodiversity—is a crucial topic for a much wider audience. “There’s nothing else like this guide with so much detail about how to protect the diversity of open-pollinated plants,” says Hurst.
A Rich Spot of Earthby Peter J. Hatch. Yale University Press, New Haven, Connecticut, co-published with the Thomas Jefferson Foundation at Monticello.
This engaging, first-person account of the restoration of Thomas Jefferson’s edible garden at Monticello is “unquestionably a superb work of scholarship,” says Rand Lee. It is an homage to Jefferson’s contributions to our national gardening heritage as well as a treasury of information about the many varieties of plants he experimented with in his Virginia garden.
The Seed Undergroundby Janisse Ray. Chelsea Green Publishing, White River Junction, Vermont.
The riveting stories of ordinary but dedicated gardeners working to preserve our seed heritage from the “dustbins of history” hold an irresistibly empowering, hopeful message. “This book immediately drove me to action,” says Kathy LaLiberte, who was inspired to seek out rare sweet potato varieties to grow. “It has the power to have a profound ripple effect among gardeners as well as in popular culture,” she adds.
World's Fair Gardensby Cathy Jean Maloney. University of Virginia Press, Charlottesville, Virginia.
“Very well produced with a sophisticated design,” notes W. Gary Smith of this book, which offers a unique view of garden history through the lens of nine U.S. world’s fairs. It chronicles each event’s “impact on not only the landscaping and city planning of the host city but also on national gardening practices and landscapes,” says Kuhl. “It’s a must-read for those interested in the history of American landscape design.”