When I first started growing flowers I wanted to learn as much as I could and checked out every book I could find on farming and gardening. The wonderful librarians at our local public library helped me to discover a treasure trove of books that greatly informed the way I have approached my farm and family life.
I’m often asked for my list of recommended reads, so I recently updated and expanded my list of favorite books which I thought I’d share here. Here you will find the books that I reference time and again.
FAVORITE CUT FLOWER GARDENING BOOKS
Grow Your Own Cut Flowers I’ve been a huge Sarah Raven fan for years and love everything she creates, but this is hands-down her best title. I reference this book on a regular basis. The pages are dirt smeared and the book’s spine gave out long ago, which shows how much I love it. Two other favorites by Sarah Raven are The Cutting Garden and The Bold and Brilliant Garden.
In Bloom: Growing, Harvesting & Arranging Homegrown Flowers All Year Round This soon-to-be released book by U.K. writer Clare Nolan is a new addition to my list. Although I’ve only read the electronic advanced review copy, I can’t wait to add it to my shelf.
Floret Farm’s Cut Flower Garden: Grow, Harvest & Arrange Stunning Seasonal Blooms. My first title was a true labor of love and is filled with easy to follow steps for planting, cultivating and harvesting more than 175 varieties of flowers.
Cool Flowers: How to Grow and Enjoy Long-Blooming Hardy Annual Flowers Using Cool Weather Techniques by Lisa Mason Ziegler. This small but solid book is a good reference guide for de-mystifying the process of growing hardy annual aka”cool” flowers.
FAVORITE FLOWER FARMING BOOKS
The Flower Farmer: An Organic Grower’s Guide to Raising and Selling Cut Flowers This great book by Lynn Byczynski includes everything you need to know about setting up your flower farming operation. If you are considering getting into the business, you’ll want to read this book!
Specialty Cut Flowers: The Production of Annuals, Perennials, Bulbs & Woody Plants for Fresh & Dried Cut Flowers This is another essential text for your flower farm library. Co-authored by Allan M. Armitage (Professor of Horticulture at the University of Georgia) and Judy M. Laushman (Executive Director of the Association of Specialty Cut Flowers Growers) this text book includes detailed seeding, cultivating and harvesting information for dozens of flower varieties.
Woody Cut Stems for Growers and Florists This book by Lane Greer and John Dole is an encyclopedia of information and a great resource if you’re serious about growing cut flowers as a business.
Local Color: Growing Specialty Cut Flowers Frank & Pamela Arnosky served as authors of the Growing for Market flower column and for years, this husband-wife team graciously shared their vast knowledge of growing cut flowers in their tough Texas climate. Fantastic storytellers and teachers, each article in this compilation include valuable practical growing advice and humorous anecdotes that prove flower farmers have more fun.
The Flower Farmer’s Year: How to Grow Cut Flowers for Pleasure and Profit UK-based writer and flower farmer Georgie Newbery created a solid resource for beginning flower farmers or designers looking to create cutting gardens on a small-scale. If you aren’t sure of the differences between flower production as a gardener and that of a flower farmer, her text will set you straight. The book is a nice resource for beginning flower farmers and gardeners ready to “scale up.” Read my full review of The Flower Farmer’s Year.
FAVORITE FARMING BOOKS (GENERAL)
Eliot Coleman books (All of them!). It is hard to pick just one of Eliot Coleman’s books to profile here, as they are all fantastic. His production techniques have revolutionized the way many farms and backyard gardens operate in cold weather climates, extending the growing season long into the cold winter months.
Grow More Vegetables* Than You Ever Thought Possible on Less Land Than You Can Imagine John Jeavons’ groundbreaking book outlines an intensive approach to gardening revolving around close plant spacing. Through experimentation and trailing, Jeavons discovered that most plants only need a small amount of space to thrive. We’ve adapted these techniques for flowers on our own farm with great success.
The Market Gardener: A Successful Grower’s Handbook for Small -Scale Organic Farming Had Jean-Martin Fortier written this book earlier, perhaps I would have avoided the mistake of trying to grow bigger too soon. It’s a brilliant book and a must-have for anyone interested in sustainable farming. Like Eliot Coleman’s books, this volume is focused on vegetable farming, but many of the principles are transferrable to flowers. Both authors beautifully detail how it is possible to farm on a small scale without big tractors or other fancy equipment.
FAVORITE DESIGN BOOKS:
Flowers for the Table This single volume by Ariella Chezar has served to inspire more florists than perhaps any other book on floral design, myself included. Even 15+ years after it was published, its simple beauty and fresh-from-the-garden aesthetic have influenced the industry in both big and small ways. Ariella’s focus on fresh, seasonal blooms have helped to catalyze important changes in the flower industry to include more local and seasonal flowers and foliage.
Paula Pryke’s Flower School: Mastering the Art of Floral Design The design style in this book is more traditional than my taste, but it contains great tutorials on floral mechanics and clear step-by-step instructions on how to make all the essential wedding florals. This really is a great addition to your resource library.
Arranging Flowers by Martha Stewart is one of my all time favorite books. Organized seasonally and featuring an incredible number of stunning bouquets, this book makes arranging both approachable and inspiring.
The Flower Recipe Book Written by the dynamic duo at Studio Choo in San Fransisco [read my past interview with them here] this book is chock full of gorgeous photos and their readable recipe format makes it easy to understand and replicate their designs. Their follow-up, The Wreath Recipe Book, is also fun; both books give special attention to using seasonal floral material in designs.
FAVORITE BOOKS FOR BUSINESS & PERSONAL DEVELOPMENT
I’m a bit of a collector of self help, personal growth books and I’m always on the hunt for new sources of insight, wisdom and inspiration.
Fire Starter Sessions by Danielle La Porte is hands down, the best book I’ve ever read in this genre. Part sermon, part therapy, and part kick-you-in-the butt motivational speech, this book will blow you out of the water and into passion-driven action towards the life and business of your dreams. This book gave me the courage and clarity to transform my life and business.
Start with Why by Simon Sinek. This is a great text that inspired me to think more deeply not only about what I do and how I do it, but to really challenge me to express why I do it.
Blue Ocean Shift by W. Chan Kim and Renee Mauborgne. I gave a copy of this book to everyone on the Floret Team to read and discuss as a group. The energy generated by our “book club”-type discussion not only was fun, but it also surfaced some innovative ideas for growing our little flower business in the future.
Big Magic: Creative Living Beyond Fear by Elizabeth Gilbert a great read and a more recent addition to my favorites list.
Strengths Finder 2.0 by Tom Rath: This book really transformed the way I approach my business. Now that I recognize and better understand my strengths, I no longer spend my days struggling to keep up and instead invest my energy and talents where they’ll be the most effective. Hiring capable help in the areas where I’m weak is the greatest gift I’ve given myself.
How the World Sees You by Sally Hogshead. This is a quick read that can help you align your marketing with how the world sees you to ensure the most traction and resonance. Similar to Strengths Finder, this book includes a code for an online assessment that will provide interesting insights into what about you fascinates others.
FAVORITE CLASSIC FLOWER BOOKS
I also have a number of books that I consider to be oldies but goodies. The information and resources incorporated between the covers are truly timeless and would make invaluable additions to your flower book library.
Fritz Bahr’s Commercial Floriculture: A Practical Manual for the Retail Grower
Florist Crop Production and Marketing by Kenneth Post
Tasha Tudor’s Garden by Tovah Martin
The Complete Gardener by Monty Don
Now it’s your turn. What’s on your bookshelf? Any great reads that were essential to your flower farm, business or personal growth? I’d love to learn what books have inspired you—simply add your faves in the comments below.
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