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My Top 5 Great Outdoors Garden Books Of 2013

garden books, peter donegan

In all cases, this is not a full blog for you to read about a book. That’s what the book is for. And in all cases, I have read them all, refused to read the press release [ or copy and paste it – pet hate] and given what I believe is a fair paragraph or two on my overall thoughts.


  • I did do 10 more horticultural gardening books for 2012, last year.
  • Some authors have or are due to be interviewed for The Sodshow.
  • All books noted here were given me by the various publishers.
  • Thank you all for being so very lovely.
  • Not all books I bought/ received made my top 5.
  • That aside, these are my top 5 books of 2013.
  • You very simply need to decide which one best suits you.
  • I have no idea how I ended up on the back of the German Edition of Jane Powers book.
  • That’s gas altogether.
  • Happy reading. Enjoy.

1. Heritage Trees of Ireland

Heritage Trees of Ireland

Possibly the best book on trees I have come across ever. It holds just enough botanical latin to keep my horticultural head interested without it feeling like work whilst at the same time it has such a unique take on how it is put together that it would make those who took a quick glance never wish to put it down.  Stunning photography, beautifully worded and noting those from the very odd and landmarked to the oldest and tallest. All, I should add, Irish.

Also I should add, contains added Thomas Packenham. You absolute legend.

2. An Irish Flora

an irish flora

Essentially this is an identification bible for the not so every day plants of Ireland and call it what you may unless you know anything about latin plant names – the book notes student or keen amateur – or are really [really] into your wild plants then I probably would not recommend it. That said, if you are into a little foraging, wild camping or walks around the wilds of Ireland or simply wish to take your i.d. skills to the next level, then this book is a must have.

Just about all text and some illustrations….. here’s a random sample page to give you an idea. Fit’s perfectly in my mála whilst I’m on my rambles around Ballyboughal and a real gem.

webbs, an irish flora

3. The Birds of Ireland

the birds of ireland

I quite literally love this book. But I’m not a bird watcher. But, I love the great outdoors. In short, I’d be aware of a rough amount of birds and what is what. At the same token I am no expert in this particular department. Q, my newest mate and its big glossy absolutely fantastic photographs. And yet again, it’s Irish. That’s not important for the sake of being Irish – it is however when you realise that your book on birds was written in Australia and half of the birds will never come here on holiday.

Six or sixty, a walk in the park fellow or a designer of that said park, you really cannot go wrong with a good book on birds and I have yet to find a better one to add to my arsenal.

4. An Infinity of Graces

an infinity of graces
I’ll possibly get a dig for my description of this one but, to me, Cecil Ross Pinsent was like Marc Bolan should, he have gigged it around 1907 – 1950. And when you think about it, in a television-less era where garden designers were the rock and roll stars of their day, Pinsent was sitting fairly pretty up there with the very best of them.

Eithne Clark paints a wonderful picture of Pinsent, his life, his works and designs in [for example] I Tatti, La Foce and Gli Scafari. And when you think that there was no heavy-duty machinery or email never mind how it took to import [or grow ?] the mature specimen plants he used – and then you see the black and white pics of the gardens that were designed… it is mind-boggling, wonderful and amazing.

Not so heavy on the hort side, yet a great insight into what life was like for someone who did.

5. 9000 Years of Irish Weather

9000 years of irish weather

I always felt that it was better to get people outside first and then maybe, go for the ‘oh look at that tree over there’ type of journey. An ethos I stood by when I do my garden group outings and still in my teaching. A sort of botanical latin later type gig if you will.

That in mind Damian Corless and his latest book are a must read. From how Cromwell caught his death from a mosquito in Cork, to how a Mayo Postmaster delayed the Allied invasion of Normandy by 24 hours; All the way back to the famine and to how I live my life by what is written on the front cover of the book. If you ever liked telling stories about the great outdoors, then this one is for you and worth every single cent of the paper it is written upon.

peter donegan

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