When the weather is perfect for hammock reading or less than favorable for frolicking in the garden, we grab from our ever growing list of books and articles to keep us inspired and informed. Here is Lurie Garden’s recommended reading list for lazing around or green inspiration!

The Art of Gardening: Design Inspiration and Innovative Planting Techniques from Chanticleer

By The Chanticleer Gardeners and R. William Thomas
“You’ll learn techniques specific to different conditions and plant palettes; how to use hardscape materials in a fresh way; and how to achieve the perfect union between plant and site.”

Learn more about this great read here.

Plants in Changing Environments: Linking Physiological, Population, and Community Ecology

By F. A. Bazzaz
“Fakhri Bazzaz integrates and synthesizes information on how disturbance changes the environment, how species function, coexist, and share or compete for resources in populations and communities, and how species replace each other over successional time.”
Learn more about this great read here.

Plants in Changing Environments is a scientific treatment of ecological topics ranging from environmental disturbance and recovery to natural and human intervention in plant communities. Can be dense at times, but still accessible to most audiences.
– Scott, former Director

Edible Memory: The Lure of Heirloom Tomatoes and Other Forgotten Foods

By Jennifer A. Jordan
“…How does an apple become an antique and a tomato an heirloom? In Edible Memory, Jennifer A. Jordan examines the ways that people around the world have sought to identify and preserve old-fashioned varieties of produce. In doing so, Jordan shows that these fruits and vegetables offer a powerful emotional and physical connection to a shared genetic, cultural, and culinary past.”

Learn more about this great read here.

The Scent of Scandal: Greed, Betrayal, and the World’s Most Beautiful Orchid
 (Lurie Garden Book Club Book)

By Craig Pittman
“The Scent of Scandal unspools like a riveting mystery novel, stranger than anything in Susan Orlean’s The Orchid Thief or the film Adaptation. Pittman shows how some people can become so obsessed–with beauty, with profit, with fame–that they will ignore everything, even the law.”
Learn more about this great read here.

H is for Hawk

By Helen Macdonald
“Heart-wrenching and humorous, this book is an unflinching account of bereavement and a unique look at the magnetism of an extraordinary beast, with a parallel examination of a legendary writer’s eccentric falconry.”
Learn more about this great read here.

The Language of Flowers

By Vanessa Diffenbaugh
“After a childhood spent in the foster-care system, Victoria Jones is unable to get close to anybody, and her only connection to the world is through flowers and their meanings. Now eighteen and emancipated from the system with nowhere to go, Victoria realizes she has a gift for helping others through the flowers she chooses for them.”
Learn more about this great read here.

Did you know that the daffodil means ‘new beginning’ or that the poppy means ‘fantastic extravagance’? In The Language of Flowers, Victoria, the main character, understands the meaning of each flower and creates bouquets with the flowers that will have meaning to the recipient. This connection to flowers helps Victoria overcome some of life’s cruelest adversities.
– Melanie, former Volunteer Manager

Planting in a Post-Wild World: Designing Plant Communities for Resilient Landscapes

By Thomas Rainer and Claudia West
“This groundbreaking guide presents a powerful alternative to traditional horticulture: designed plantings that function like naturally occurring plant communities.”
Learn more about this great read here.

The Invention of Nature: Alexander von Humboldt’s New World

By Andrea Wulf
“The Invention of Nature reveals the extraordinary life of the visionary German naturalist Alexander von Humboldt (1769-1859) and how he created the way we understand nature today.”
Learn more about this great read here.

City Creatures: Animal Encounters in the Chicago Wilderness

Edited by Gavin Van Horn and Dave Aftandilian
“City Creatures introduces readers to an astonishing diversity of urban wildlife with a unique and accessible mix of essays, poetry, paintings, and photographs.”
Learn more about this great read here.

City Creatures: Animal Encounters in the Chicago Wilderness is a hefty collection of essays on the ecology of our city is well curated. The photos and artwork are worthy of their own book. We were excited to see that our good friend, Blake Lenoir, has some drawings in this book. They point to the larger fauna coexisting in our city parks, gardens, and shorelines with humans. This book truly celebrates nature right where we live.
– Laura, former Head Horticulturalist

The Cabaret of Plants: Forty Thousand Years of Plant Life and the Human Imagination

By Richard Mabey
“The Cabaret of Plants explores dozens of plant species that for millennia have challenged our imaginations, awoken our wonder, and upturned our ideas about history, science, beauty, and belief. Going back to the beginnings of human history, Mabey shows how flowers, trees, and plants have been central to human experience not just as sources of food and medicine but as objects of worship, actors in creation myths, and symbols of war and peace, life and death.”
Learn more about this great read here.

The Contributions of Place-Base Researched to Ecological Understanding

Edited by Ian Billick & Mary Price
“…explores how place-focused research yields exportable general knowledge as well as practical local knowledge, and how society can facilitate ecological understanding by investing in field sites, place-centered databases, interdisciplinary collaborations, and field-oriented education programs that emphasize natural history.”

Learn more about this great read here.


By Piet Oudolf, Noel Kingsbury

“An intimate look at the personal garden of the Dutch landscape designer renowned for his plantings at the High Line in New York City, and Lurie Garden at Chicago’s Millennium Park.”
Learn more about this great read here.

Have you read any of these books? What did you think about them? We’re always looking for great reads. If you have any suggestions please share below!