My Favorite Books

by Deanna Williams

We’re in the last stretch of winter, and around this time every year, I feel like I’m struggling for inspiration. When it comes to research I love having google and unlimited resources at my fingertips, but when I’m lacking creativity I turn to books. Having something physical in my hands that somebody created helps me decide on color palettes for the growing season, find fresh ideas for arrangements, and it pulls me out of the pot roast and soup stretch once more foods start coming into season.

Flower Farming Books
farming books

Cool Flowers by Lisa Mason Ziegler
I’m in zone 6a, so we get a hefty amount of snow each winter and tend to have cooler springs and falls. This book was so tremendously helpful when it came to timing hardy annuals and biennials! Lisa shares strategies for each variety along with tips based on your growing zone. If you plan on growing hardy annuals I couldn’t recommend this book enough!

Building Soil, a Down-to-Earth Approach by Elizabeth Murphy
Soil health and fertility is the most important consideration when it comes to farming and gardening. Having a guide to help you understand the health of your soil is paramount and this book helps walk you through sampling and testing your soil, making your own compost, when and how to apply fertilizers and amendments, and how these steps help provide bigger yields and healthier plants.

Floret Farm’s Cut Flower Garden by Erin Benzakein
Cut Flower Garden brings you through the basics of flower farming and continues on with tips and tricks of the trade by season. Erin includes details on growing information, harvesting instructions, and how to increase vase life along with her favorite varieties. The photography is stunning and her writing is full of inspiration!

In Bloom by Clare Nolan
This book is a classic for flower farmers. Clare’s In Bloom is organized by season and one of my favorite parts is the very beginning where she has in-depth details for planting ideas, spacing, garden design, and keeping track of flower availability. Planning ahead is one of the most important steps for flower farming so if you’re just starting out, this should be the first book you get.

Floral Design Books
floral design books

The Flower Hunter by Lucy Hunter
If I could only choose one book for floral design inspiration it would be this one. The arrangements in the Flower Hunter are romantic and wild. Lucy walks you through step-by-step on creating some of the most stunning floral designs you’ll see. Even if you’re not looking to grow your own flowers I would recommend adding this book to your library. It’s a showstopper!

Floret Farm’s A Year in Flowers by Erin Benzakein
This beautiful book breaks down the basics of floristry. One of the most useful sections of the book that I find myself going back to is where Erin breaks down the fundamental ingredients to floral design. Structural foliage, supporting ingredients, textural ingredients, supporting flowers, focal flowers, and airy accents. All separated by season with pictures. The arrangements are listed out like recipes and provide a strong foundation when you’re trying to find your design style.

Life in the Studio by Frances Palmer
I love this book because it brings importance to the vessels we arrange our flowers in. Sometimes it’s great to have a simple vase or urn that doesn’t draw a lot of attention and adorn it with a variety of flowers and textures. Other times, the design is brought together with a handmade ceramic vase with simple greenery or monochromatic flowers. This book has a little bit of everything with the first half dedicated to Frances Palmer’s pottery and the second spotlighting flowers with her knowledge in the garden.

Seasonal Flower Arranging by Ariel Chezar
If you feel like you’re getting stuck with floral design or struggling to come up with something fresh, this is a wonderful resource. Ariel experiments with so many different color palettes and textures that I wouldn’t usually consider and she breaks her design recipes down all the way to the number of stems. Her book is broken down into seasons to help you use fresh flowers and designs all throughout the year.

A Field Guide for your area is a must-have if you plan on foraging materials for any of your designs. I’ll never forget a story I read a couple years ago about a woman from Maine who was hosting a private dinner in a friend’s greenhouse. She found beautiful foliage on the side of the road and harvested it for a design to have at the dinner. It turned out that she had picked poison ivy! Always know what you’re harvesting and whether or not it’s poisonous especially if the arrangement is for a client or customer!

Books for Inspiration
inspiration books

Natural Tables by Shellie Pomeroy
Everything Shellie creates, I fall in love with. Plain and Simple. This stunning book is driven by nature and every page is filled with intention. The designs and photography are simple and inspiring. I love this book when I start getting stuck in my head and putting too much detail into my creativity. I also use Silk & Willow‘s plant dyed silk ribbon for all of my wedding florals!

Grow & Gather by Grace Alexander
I turn to this book when I’m hitting writer’s block. Grace Alexander’s writing is profound and meaningful and real. The photography in her book shows the beauty in a natural garden and her writing brings you there right beside her. This is the perfect flower and garden book for those of us who love to read!

Terrain edited by Greg Lehmkuhl
Outside of the field, there hasn’t been much time or opportunity to look at designing the garden beds around the house. When I look through terrain it’s all of my seasonal garden dreams come true.

Cook Books
cook books

The Lost Kitchen by Erin French
Erin’s cookbook will challenge your skills a bit with some new flavors and unique recipes. Her instructions are so easy to follow and after the past year and a half of having her cookbook I have fallen in love with every recipe I’ve recreated. When broken down, her recipes are simple and creative. She is the reason I have fallen in love with brined poultry!

Tacos by Alex Stupak and Jordana Rothman
Tacos are my favorite food. So naturally, this would be one of my favorite books. It is packed with fresh salsa recipes, different takes on making tortillas, and the best carnitas you’ll ever make in your own kitchen. If you want to level up your taco game, buy this book!

Piatti by Stacy Adimando
I am not a huge fan of Italian food, especially when it comes to restaurants in the Inland Northwest. These southern -Italian inspired recipes are full of flavors and fresh ingredients. I find myself mostly coming back to this book when it comes to salads/sides and appetizers. I love that the book is organized by season so you can find recipes that use the freshest ingredients.

Small Victories by Julia Turshen
I am still warming up to this one. Every couple weeks I come back to it and find a recipe to try and so far, they have all been amazing! Some of the flavor combinations have had me hesitant, like a hot red pepper and pear soup, but at the end of the day, every meal has been a small victory.

And on those days where I don’t have the mental capacity to try to put together a full meal, Booey’s always has me covered! I LOVE his vaquero rub and the original pepper sauce and sweet Jamaican jerk are to die for!

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