Skip to main content

Great Winter Reads

By: Sandra Nelson; Images Rachel Renaud and Sandy DeFoe

Here in the Midwest, with its frigid days and frequent snowstorms, the winter months are the perfect time to immerse yourself in nature. No, you can’t head to the garden to putter, but you can curl up with a good book  --  or a magazine  -- or a blog -- or even a stack of seed catalogs to expand your horizons, learn something new and get your nature fix.



 I’m always searching for something new to dig into and through the years, recommendations  from friends and from professionals in the field have led me to some outstanding reads. This year I asked the staff at Landscape Group to share some of their wintertime favorites. 

                                                      Not surprisingly, they’ve suggested some great choices.


magazine on table

Jeremy Banks, one of the Landscape crew leads has been reading the Better Homes and Gardens magazine for at least 20 years. Introduced to it by his mom at the beginning of his career, he finds that the articles consistently offer timely information in an easily digested format, perfect for both novice and experienced gardeners.


child looking at magazine

Mike Hallauer, Estimator, uses the children’s magazine Xplor, to share his passion for nature with his grandkids, reading it with them after he finishes it. Published by the Missouri Department of Conservation, the bi-monthly magazine is free to Missouri residents or costs $5 per year for out-of-state households. 


magazines and bouquet

Sandy DeFoe, Artistic Director, puts the magazine Fine Gardening at the top of her winter reading list. In her words, “It is filled with gorgeous, inspiring photos highlighting traditional to modern gardens, fantastic color combinations and planting tips from all over the world.” 


seed catalog

Jo Ann Prieto, Horticulturist and Seasonal Color Specialist spends her winter reading hours perusing the Baker Creek Heirloom Seeds catalog. Unusual varieties, stunning photography and almost poetic write-ups, this catalog is worth spending time with! (And this year shipping is free….)


book by bookbag and fireplace

Jamie Wiley, Designer/Estimator, recommends two “must reads.” The first, Wild: From Lost to Found on the Pacific Crest Trail, chronicles the life-changing self- discoveries author Cheryl Strayed experienced during her 1,100 mile solo hike along the Pacific Coast.  His second choice, The Pursuit of Endurance: Harnessing the Record-Breaking Power of Strength and Resilience by Jennifer Pharr Davis, also takes the reader on a journey, but this time it’s on a path of character building through accomplishment, as she describes her training regime for extreme hiking the Appalachian Trail. Both books, Jamie says, help him “clear his mind and remind him of the beauty that surrounds us.”


book on plan


Dan Nelson,Senior Designer, has held the landscape visionary Jens Jensen as his inspiration for years. Jensen’s book entitled Siftings is Dan’s choice of best book. Jensen, a pioneer in the use of native plants in the landscape, wrote this series of essays towards the end of his career (originally published in 1939), so it reflects his lifelong connection to nature and his belief that humanity’s future is indelibly tied to the success of the natural world.


book by mixer

And finally, my choice for a winter read. 2020 was a year of turmoil, fear, frustration and sadness for me. I needed a gentler end to the year, so I ordered a book called Kitchen Garden Revival from Amazon just because the title and cover illustration reminded me of my grandmother’s backyard vegetable garden. It turned out to be a worthwhile addition to my collection, taking you step by step through the process of planning, building, planting and using a pint-sized kitchen garden. The photography in it is outstanding too.