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Eight Books to Read for Instant Garden Inspiration

Our list includes garden greats like Bunny Mellon, Beatrix Farrand, Edith Wharton, and Bunny Williams.

Stewart, Tabori and Chang

They say that April showers bring May flowers, so what better way to celebrate the beginning of May than with a list of books to read for garden inspiration? House Beautiful’s list includes books by and about established gardeners like Bunny Williams, Beatrix Farrand, Edith Wharton, and Bunny Mellon, and ends with a book that features the gardens of Christian Dior and a former Hermès designer. While we can’t guarantee that your garden will look exactly like the ones on these pages, any effort to make the world a little more colorful and beautiful is more than enough, if you ask us. Happy reading and happy gardening!

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1 The Gardens of Bunny Mellon by Linda Jane Holden

Rachel Lambert Mellon (better known as Bunny) had quite the impressive résumé when it came to her gardening career. In addition to redesigning the White House Rose Garden during the Kennedy presidency (she was a close friend of Jackie's), Mellon designed the gardens at Hubert de Givenchy’s Château du Jonchet, the American Horticultural Society's headquarters, the Kennedy home in Martha's Vineyard, and the John F. Kennedy Presidential Library—to name a few.

2 Beatrix Farrand: Private Gardens, Public Landscapes by Judith B. Tankard
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Gardening genes ran in Beatrix Farrand’s blood — her aunt was the novelist, interior designer, and fellow garden designer (amongst other job titles), Edith Wharton, who is also included on this list. Beatrix Farrand designed the gardens at Dumbarton Oaks in Washington, D.C., which is now a historic house museum, as well as the Abby Aldrich Rockefeller Garden, the grounds of the Morgan Library, and two gardens at the White House — East Colonial Garden (now known as the Jacqueline Kennedy Garden) and the West Garden (now the White House Rose Garden).

3 Italian Villas and Their Gardens by Edith Wharton

Edith Wharton is probably best known for her celebrated novels, but she also wrote influential books about gardens and interior design. In addition to her first book, The Decoration of Houses, Edith Wharton penned this tome on gardens in Italy. The book features various chapters, including Florentine Villas, Sienese Villas, Roman Villas, Villas near Rome, Genoese Villas, Lombard Villas, and Villas of Venetia. If you want to see Wharton’s own garden designs, visit her former home in the Berkshires, The Mount.

4 Bunny Williams On Garden Style
Stewart Tabori Chang

Bunny Williams is quite the Renaissance woman. In addition to being one of the most celebrated interior designers today, Williams has founded her own furniture company and is an accomplished gardener. She even shared with House Beautiful how to create your very own French-style garden.

5 English Gardens: From the Archives of Country Life Magazine by Kathryn Bradley-Hole

It’s no wonder why the English countryside is known for its fairytale-esque gardens and landscaping, which Kathryn Bradley-Hole explores in her book, English Gardens: From the Archives of Country Life Magazine. The works of horticulturalists like Piet Oudolf, Gertrude Jekyll, Arne Maynard, and Capability Brown are featured in this book, as are the gardens at Hidcote Manor, Great Dixter, and Sissinghurst Castle Garden.

6 The Art of the Garden: Landscapes, Interiors, Arrangements, and Recipes Inspired by Horticultural Splendors by Relais & Châteaux North America

Hotel brand Relais & Châteaux is the mastermind behind this beautiful garden book, appropriately called The Art of the Garden. Learn how to create lush gardens that range from simple to extravagant, depending on your aesthetic, then continue the floral theme inside your home with wallpapers, objets d’art, textiles, and botanical prints. Finally, set a table with those magnificent flowers you grew, alongside edible flower creations that you and your guests can delightfully eat.

7 Hamptons Gardens by Jack deLashmet

Jack deLashmet is a landscape designer in his own right, as well as the garden editor of Hamptons magazine. Plus, you’re helping others by buying this book — 100% of the author’s royalties are donated to God’s Love We Deliver, a New York City-based charity that cooks and delivers meals to those in need. The book includes garden designers such as Russell Page (who designed the garden at the Frick Collection), Miranda Brooks, Oehme van Sweden, and Edwina von Gal.

8 Gardens of Style: Private Hideaways of the Design World by Janelle McCulloch

Gardens of Style: Private Hideaways of the Design World  features a range of notable interior designers—Bunny Williams, Jeffrey Bilhuber, and Celerie Kemble—and the personal gardens of people like Christian Dior and Nicole de Vésian, who worked as a textile designer for Hermès. As for the locations of these impressive gardens, expect to see scenic creations from all over the world, including the French region of Provence, the Dominican Republic, the English countryside, and the East Coast of North America.

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