My old friend Michael Ruggiero turned me on to my favorite garden reference books years ago. He gave my former partner a set of all 14 volumes of the unabridged New Illustrated Encyclopedia of Gardening published in 1964 (“with contributions from 20 horticulturists and authorities from the United States and Canada”). Michael is a long-time instructor at the New York Botanical Garden and the former senior curator in the horticulture department, so he knows a thing or two about accurate horticultural information.
Ever since I’ve been on the look-out for a set of my very own. And after moving from New York City to Des Moines, Iowa, it didn’t take long. I found two complete sets for less than $20 at the Planned Parenthood Book Sale, one for at home and one for here in the office. The series was edited by Thomas H. Everett, a staff member of the NYBG for 55 years and one of the world’s leading horticultural authorities and educators. Besides working with the renowned landscape architect Beatrix Farrand in the 1920s, Everett held many positions at NYBG (including director of horticulture) and was the founder of the acclaimed NYBG School of Horticulture.
According to the introduction to the series, “the New Illustrated Encyclopedia of Gardening provides the reader with a complete, up-to-date, and practical illustrated guide to the cultivation of the trees, shrubs, flowering plants, bulbs, fruits and vegetables which are, or may be, cultivated in gardens in the United States and Canada, both out of doors and in the greenhouse….This encyclopedia has been planned to be a lifetime library of gardening, containing all the information necessary for the novice to become an expert.” I see sets on sale on the internet for anywhere from $75 to $150, but I say head to your local used book store and start rummaging.