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  • Writer's pictureJulia Watson

Rest a Little, Plan a Lot: Book and Website Recommendations

Updated: Jan 13, 2021

Roses: 'Veilchenblau,' 'Just Joey' and 'Joseph's Coat'

Here in California you could have flowers all year round, but sometimes we all need to take a break. If you’re a serious gardener, you’ve been working all year and now would be a good time to rest. But you do have to make a few plans, so I suggest you grab a good garden catalog, curl up in a chair by the fire and do your resting and planning at the same time. If you’re a beginner, or only have a garden in your dreams, it’s still wonderful to take time to browse and scheme.

I wrote about planning a spring garden in a previous post - now I’ll recommend books to read and websites to browse for garden ideas.


The New Sunset Western Garden - this is hands-down the most important garden book I have. I have four different copies because new versions come out every few years. Most of the information stays the same but sometimes I find valuable things in an older version, so I keep them all.

Northern California Gardening by Katherine Grace Endicott - I have an older edition but it's still useful.

Golden Gate Gardening by Pamela Peirce - a comprehensive book on growing vegetables in the San Francisco Bay area.

Grow a Little Fruit Tree by Ann Ralph - if you want to grow fruit at home, keeping things small enough to fit in a yard or even a balcony, then this is the book for you.

Flower Confidential by Amy Stewart - an entertaining but serious look at the floral industry.

The Language of Flowers by Vanessa Diffenbaugh - a novel, set in San Francisco, about a girl who grows up in foster care and learns to make human connections through flowers.


Floret – it was because of Floret that Don and I started Tiny Footprint Flowers – we took Erin Benzakein's online course and never looked back. The Floret website offers seeds and bulbs from her Washington state farm.

Annie’s Annuals – a California nursery founded by Annie Hayes, who gives the site a joyful look. I love reading the copy in her catalog and website – she’s enthusiastic and extremely knowledgeable.

Swallowtail Seeds – a California company with a wonderful selection of flower seeds.

Renee’s Garden Seeds – another California seed company; Renee’s seeds are widely available at local nurseries.

Johnny’s Seeds – lots of seeds, and also check the tab marked “Grower’s Library” for tons of information and useful links.

Swan Island Dahlias – one of the oldest and largest companies offering dahlia tubers.

Regan Nursery - a Fremont nursery with a huge inventory of roses.

R. Parsons sweet peas – if you ever want to know more about sweet peas, start here. English gardeners are mad about sweet peas and have contributed more varieties than you and I can ever grow!

sweet peas
Sweet peas 'Restormel,' grown from seed from Floret.

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