The Reading List: Flowers

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Chelsea Gold: Award-Winning Gardens from the Chelsea Flower Show by John Moreland, £16.50

Flower-lovers rejoice, as this week sees the horticultural equivalent of the Oscars: the Chelsea Flower Show.

This colourful book celebrates the spectacle, from showing how much work goes into staging the annual display, to presenting some of the most dazzling finished gardens that have competed over the years. Although it's currently out of print, copies are plentiful on the internet.


The Orchid Thief by Susan Orlean; £8.99

Following the charismatic John Laroche, arrested for alleged rare orchid poaching in Florida in 1994, this book started life as a piece for The New Yorker. On the surface it is a tale of the obsessive world of orchid collectors, but it is really a story about desire, Orlean finding herself envious of those who have such a consuming passion in their lives. The book formed the basis of the film Adaptation, starring Meryl Streep as Orlean.


RHS Encyclopedia of Plants and Flowers by Christopher Brickell, £35

For green-fingered folk, this tome will help you identify any flower and guide you towards creating your dream garden. With profiles on thousands of blooms and hundreds of photographs, this bestselling guide is now in its fifth edition and will tell you how to cultivate, prune and care for your flowers.


The Judith Blacklock Encylopedia of Flower Design by Judith Blacklock; £30

A world-renowned florist with her own school in Knightsbridge, Blacklock boasts a client list that includes the Royal family. This thorough guide covers classic, contemporary and cutting-edge design and its helpful and friendly tone mean it's perfect for beginners.


The Gardens of Emily Dickinson by Judith Farr; £19.95

During her lifetime Emily Dickinson was known for being a gardener more than a writer. Having studied botany, Dickinson's garden was her greatest pleasure and she kept a book of pressed flowers all her life. Flowers also form one of the greatest themes in the work of the prolific poet, with different blooms used as metaphors for certain emotions. In this fascinating book Farr investigates Dickinson's relationship with art and nature.