Recommended reading

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The Subtropical Garden by Jaqueline Walker and Gil Hanley.
ISBN  0881923591
Mostly applicable to warm temperate areas, but still nice to dip into and daydream.   Gorgeous pics and great inspiration.
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The Tropical Look by Robert Lee Riffle
ISBN0-500-01880-4
An encyclopedia of exotic plants, mainly for the warmer US states but extremely informative and inspiring.
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The New Exotic Garden by Will Giles
ISBN 1840002417
Probably the best introduction to exotic gardening in print, a must for all exoticists.  The pictures especially are terrific inspiration.
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Big Leaves for Exotic Effect by Stephen Griffith
ISBN 1-86108-262-2
Excellent overall book – the author is curator of Abbotsbury Subtropical Gardens in Dorset so has a great pedigree.
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Architectural Plants by Christine Shaw
ISBN 0-00-714655-8
Really excellent value book from the manager of Architectural Plants – the Nursery – Chichester branch.
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Bromeliads for the Contemporary Garden by Andrew Steens
ISBN 1-86962-095-X
The only sensible book on bromeliads – loads of useful info. much of which is applicable to growing in the UK
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Encyclopedia of Cultivated Palms by Robert Lee Riffle and Paul Craft
ISBN 0-88192-558-6
The best ‘everyday’ palm book – loads of palms, nice pics.  What more could you want?
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The Explorer’s Garden by Daniel J Hinkley
ISBN 0-88192-426-1
One of a dying breed of modern day plant hunters, this book is a treasure trove of info about those rare little plants that make all the difference.
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Hot Plants for Cool Climates by Susan A. Roth and Dennis Schrader
ISBN 0-395-96323-0
Similar to The ‘Exotic Garden’ but expands into more detail on hardy exotics.
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Exotic Gardening in Cool Climates by Myles Challis
ISBN 1857021878
Read this and you have as good a grounding in the art of exoticism as you can get. A bit waffle-y in places.Large Leaved Perennials by Myles Challis
ISBN 0-7063-7058-9
Another useful book by Mr. Challis, slightly less exotic but also less waffle-y.
Grow Something Different by Nick Wray
ISBN 0-563-37085-8
Lots of useful ideas in here, some unusual plants listed, I find the temperature recommendations
are a little cautious.

Plants for Dry Gardens by Jane Taylor
ISBN 0711212228
Marvelous book, a bible for anyone with low rainfall / mediterranean areas covering a wide range of plants.
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ISBN 0-460-86022-4
Another really good book, written from experience.  I think it may be out of print but worth a search for secondhand.
Weather in the Garden by Jane Taylor
ISBN 0719557267
An excellent book that covers many useful areas – how hardiness is affected by different environmental factors, what climates many of our garden plants come from etc.
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The Gardener’s Guide to Growing Temperate Bamboosby Michael Bell
ISBN 0-7153-0859-9
The best work on the subject of bamboos currently in print, this book unravels the mysteries
of these underused plants.
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The Plantfinder’s Guide to Tender Perennials by Ian Cooke
ISBN 0-7153-0635-9
Particularly good section on cannas, as you would expect from the National Collection holder.
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The Native Trees of New Zealand by JT Salmon
ISBN 0-7900-0503-4
Nice pics of the odd stuff that grows there.
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The Plantfinder’s guide to Garden Ferns by Martin Rickard
ISBN 0-7153-0806-8
As you would expect from the immensely knowledgeable author, an invaluable book.  Deals with treeferns in some detail.
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Bananas you can grow by James W. Waddick and Glenn M. Stokes
ISBN 0-9678540-1-6
First in a series by this pair, aimed at the US market (maybe not available off the shelf in the UK other than specialist outlets eg me) but probably the only useful book on nanas in print.
Passion Flowers by John Vanderplank
ISBN 1899296123
Just open up the book and marvel at these magnificently tropical-looking blooms.
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Agaves of Continental North America by Howard Scott Gentry
ISBN 0-8165-0775-9
The only sensible work on the subject.  All pics are black and white, it is expensive for what it is but there is nothing else.  Useful info such as rainfall profiles for where the species are found.
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Agaves, Yuccas and related plants – a gardeners guide by Mary and Gary Irish
ISBN 0-88192-442-3
An affordable reference work on a sadly neglected group of plants, deals with agave, yucca, dasylirion, nolina, beschorneria, furcraea, many of which have potential for UK gardens.   Excellent pictures.
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Guide to Aloes of South Africa by Ben-Erik Van Wyk and Gideon Smith
ISBN 1-87509-304-4
Great book, reasonably priced.  Loads of colour pics, loads of sexy plants.
Probably the most affordable aloe book and certainly easy to look though.
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Mesembs of the World various authors
ISBN 1-875093-13-3
Not just lithops and conophytum, but all the odd little genera with their dazzling
flowers in full colour.  Excellent book.
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Succulents – the Illustrated Dictionary by Maurizio Sajeva and Mariangela Costanzo
ISBN 0-304-34745-0
Not much into, but hundreds of photos: the book to find out what that obscure genus may look like.
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Cacti – the Illustrated Dictionary by Rod and ken Preston-Mafham
ISBN 0-304-34616-0
Page after page of balls.  Spiny ones.  Doesn’t cover any columnar ones.
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The Succulent Garden – a Practical Guide by Yvonne Cave
ISBN 0-88192-378-8
An  unusual book covering what is, for the UK anyway, an unusual topic.
Lots of ideas nevertheless.
Dry Climate Gardening with Succulents compiled by Huntingdon Botanical Gdns
ISBN 0679758291
Ditto, for a US market, but more comprehensive, nicer pics and includes many cacti.  Great inspiration.
Sedum: Cultivated Stonecrops by Ray Stephenson
ISBN 0-88192-236-2
Excellent work comprehensively covering there extremely useful plants, essential for filling in on the cactus patch, some actually look the part too.
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Palms throughout the World by David L Jones
ISBN 1876334517
One of the best overall palm book for the non-botanist.  A few omissions but pretty   comprehensive, loads of pictures.
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Palms by Martin Gibbons
ISBN 184092277X
An extremely good little book that is excellent value and the best introduction to palms.
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Cycads of the world by David L Jones
ISBN 1-87633-409-6
The best overall cycad book for the non-botanist.  Very comprehensive, loads and loads of pictures.
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The RHS A-Z Encyclopedia of Garden Plants
ISBN 0-7513-0303-8.
As long as you take the recommended minimum temperatures with a pinch of salt, this book is a must.  It describes over 15,000 plants, many illustrated, with quite a few  tender and half hardies.
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Roger Phillips and Martyn Rix : an excellent series of books:Conservatory and Indoor Plants: Vol1
ISBN 0-330-37375-7
If you can wade through the reams of pelargoniums there are rich pickings in this volume, loads of unusual stuff for the milder garden.
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Conservatory and Indoor Plants: Vol 2
ISBN 0-330-37376-5
Again, pages and pages of fuchsias, but loads of good material for trying outside.
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Perennials :Vol.1  Early Perennials
ISBN 0-330-32774-7
Lots of odd and rare plants to flesh out your borders.
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Perennials :Vol. 2 Late Perennials
ISBN 0-330-32775-5
Same again, some treasures in here.
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Shrubs
ISBN 0-330-30258-2
Spend a happy few days rummaging around in here for unusual shrubs.
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Bulbs
ISBN 0-330-30253-1
All the usual suspects, daffs, tulips etc but some real beauties as well.
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Mediterranean Gardening by Heidi Gildemeister
ISBN 8427307497
Excellent guide to this style of exotic gardening, essential for anyone with drier summers or simply trying to achieve that mediterranean look.
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Field Guide to Palms of the Americas by Andrew Henderson
ISBN 0691016003

Very in depth book about palms including chamaedorea, trithrinax etc, covers most varieties within each species, no climate guide though, 250 colour palm pics. 
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Encyclopedia of Ferns by David L Jones
ISBN
0881920541
Another book from the prolific pen of Mr Jones.  A must for fern growers though a touch expensive.
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Encyclopedia of Ornamental Grasses by John Greenlee
ISBN 0875961002
Probably couldn’t find a better book on grasses, includes US zones for each plant (yawn) but at least it gives us a rough idea what we can grow. 
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Hardy Gingers  by T.M.E Branney
ISBN 0-88192-677-9

The first in depth study of this valuable group of plants specifically aimed at the UK market.
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Tree ferns by Mark F. Large and John E. Braggins
ISBN 0-88192-630-2
The first specialist work on tree ferns, this goes into some detail on the various genera and species, though with little cultural advice in nterms of their landscape use in the UK.
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Desert Gardens by Melba Levick and Gary Lyons
ISBN: 0847821870

Absolute pornography for the succulentiphile
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The Gardener’s Guide to Growing Cannas by Ian Cooke
ISBN: 071531131X
At last a specialist book – written by a specialist.  Holder of the NCCP reference collection holder and vastly knowledgeable Mr Cooke, this is a long awaited addition to the exotic library. 
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Aroids: Plants of the Arum family by Deni Bown
Timber Press; ISBN: 0881924857
Second and improved addition, this book deals with some of our favourite jungle plants in some detail, plus some interesting subjects from temperate rain forests.
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Illustrated Handbook of Succulent Plants: Monocotyledons  Editor U. Eggli  ISBN: 3540416927
This volume on monocotyledons presents succulents from 17 families and 64 genera, some 1100 species and over 200 infraspecific taxa.  The most important genera are Agave with approx 200 species, and Aloe  with about 450. Other major genera included are: Haworthia, Bulbine and Sansevieria, each with approx. 60 species. In addition, a wide variety of bulbous xerophytes from several genera are described.
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The Exotic Garden by Richard Iversen
ISBN 1-56158-232-8
This is for fans of the ‘summer bedding’ school of exotic gardening, aimed squarely at the US market but interesting nevertheless.
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Hardy Bamboos: Taming the Dragon by paul Whittaker
ISBN 0-88192-685-X
A pretty comprehensive book about bamboos laden with sage words from one of the country’s leading bamboo-ists.
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Some more useful gardening articles, include our very own on UK oasis, click the links below to see them:

Vegetable Gardening Advice

Growing Vegetables during the Spring

Tomato Growing Guide