Books To Read in The Garden

5 min read

Vintage Garden Reads from Country House Library

Reading in the garden is an entirely different experience to reading indoors. Whether sitting under a shady tree or lying in the grass sunbathing, reading in the garden carries its own kind of magic. Spending time in your own garden, or even in someone else’s, provides a great sense of space and freedom. So, why not choose a new book for yourself, settle down in your favourite garden spot and let the magic begin!

  1. The Secret Garden, Frances Hodgson-Burnett

    The Secret Garden, Frances Hodgson-Burnett

    “Everything is made out of magic, leaves and trees, flowers and birds… So it must be all around us. In this garden — in all the places.”

    As this quote from The Secret Garden so aptly points out, nature holds a special kind of magic. Though aimed at children, this enchanting coming-of-age story is the perfect book to read in your garden. It tells the story of Mary Lennox, an unhappy orphan sent to live at her uncle’s sprawling Yorkshire estate. Her discovery of a beautiful and abandoned garden changes her life however, its restorative powers helping her to overcome her grief. The book is utterly charming and Hodgson-Burnett draws upon her own interest in gardening, taking particular inspiration from her gardens at great Maytham Hall in Kent.

    Shop for vintage Children's Books at Country House Library →

  2. Alice in Wonderland, Lewis Carroll

    Alice in Wonderland, Lewis Carroll

    “I wonder if the snow loves the trees and fields, that it kisses them so gently?”

    There is a certain peace to be found outdoors amongst trees, grass and flowers. Though Alice in Wonderland is often deemed a children’s book, the dangerous and cruel world Lewis presents is more suited to adult readers. However, it is the magic of the story that captures the imagination of young and old alike. Like The Secret Garden, this enchanting tale reveals the magical power of garden spaces. Alice’s garden, where she first finds the rabbit hole, represents a transition into a new space. At the base of the rabbit hole, she spies another beautiful garden filled with fountains and flowers. This idyllic space represents her belief in goodness and happiness, as does her strong desire to reach it.

    Shop for vintage Lewis Carroll Books at Country House Library →

  3. Watching Birds, James Fisher, 1940 First Edition

    Watching Birds, James Fisher, 1940 First Edition

    What better way to enjoy your garden than sitting in a quiet place scouting for birds? This wonderful reference book, packed full of information and methods, is the perfect guide for amateur birdwatchers. Fisher describes the world of birds in detail, exploring the distinction between their lives and our own and the methods that can be used to gain a greater understanding of these differences. The book can even be used to trace how country and climate have changed over time based on the number of birds and their breeds that visit your garden.

    Shop for vintage Bird books at Country House Library →

  4. The Little Garden, Louisa King, 1922

    The Little Garden, Louisa King, 1922

    This lovely book, with its decorative gold cover, is a great choice for the keen gardener. It belongs to ‘The Little Garden’ series which was created in the post-war years following the increasing popularity of gardening in small suburban plots. This volume considers the ground surrounding houses, as well as the garden plots themselves, and shares tips on how to treat the type of land found in the towns and suburbs. King also offers advice on planting and planning and her descriptions are supplemented by plant lists, photographs, diagrams and illustrations.

    Shop for vintage Gardening Books at Country House Library →

  5. A Midsummer Night’s Dream, William Shakespeare

    A Midsummer Night’s Dream, William Shakespeare

    “I know a bank where the wild thyme blows/Where oxlips and the nodding violet grows.”

    Shakespeare’s plays and sonnets often touch upon the power of the natural world. A Midsummer Nights Dream captures the enchanting spirit of nature, particularly in summertime. It is amongst nature that Titania falls asleep, carried into dreamland by the powerful juice of the ‘love-in-idleness’ flower. Shakespeare’s use of the natural world represents innocence and complications of young summer love. While A Midsummer Night’s Dream is a play, it is still a delightful story to read in the garden.

    Shop for vintage Shakespeare at Country House Library →

  6. The Importance of Being Earnest, Oscar Wilde

    The Importance of Being Earnest, Oscar Wilde

    ‘The garden, an old-fashioned one, full of roses.’

    The garden in Oscar Wilde’s famous play serves as a backdrop for many comedic and romantic moments. Part of the play takes place in a city home and the other amongst the yew groves and rose gardens at a countryside estate. Rather than emphasise the beauty of nature however, the flowers are mere ornaments in the country garden. The garden itself however provides a space for the characters to hide from one another and overhear private conversations. The young lady of the house, Cecily, finds escapism there and takes pleasure from her solace amongst the flowers.

    Shop for vintage Oscar Wilde at Country House Library →

  7. Orlando, Virginia Woolf

    Orlando, Virginia Woolf

    “Green in nature is one thing, green in literature another.”

    Woolf’s short story, 'The Orchard', was inspired by the beautiful garden at Monks House. When she first arrived at the house, the garden was sorely neglected but her husband, Leonard Woolf, saw it turned into a blooming English country garden. Unlike 'The Orchard', Orlando does not directly draw upon this garden for inspiration. However, Woolf’s use of avian imagery reveals her belief in the transformative powers of the natural world. Such imagery is symbolic of Orlando’s journey towards finding an identity, shifting between masculine and feminine identities.

    Shop for vintage Virginia Woolf at Country House Library →

  8. The Century Book of Gardening, Unknown

    The Century Book of Gardening, Unknown

    Rather than serve solely as a guide for gardeners, this book explores the love of gardens that is so deeply rooted in the English mind. It looks at the changing perception of gardens, from lands controlled by estate management to spaces that could be enjoyed purely for personal interest. The beginner gardener however, perhaps at a loss of what to do with their plot, may need some guidance. It is for this purpose that The Century Book of Gardening was created. Arranged alphabetically wherever possible and accompanied by beautiful illustrations, the book offers practical advice to all amateur gardeners of small and large plots alike.

    Shop for vintage Gardening & Nature books at Country House Library →

Create Your Library Garden

“If you have a garden in your library, everything will be complete.” – Marcus Tullius Cicero

The garden is the ideal place to settle down with an enchanting read. Whether the day is hot and sunny or windy and atmospheric, reading in the garden offers a sense of escapism that can’t be experienced anywhere else! So, stock your library with garden-themed books and steal away outdoors to your own enchanting place amongst the flowers.



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