Evolution of the Annual Book Award Program
The American Horticultural Society honors outstanding garden-related books published in North America through its annual Book Award Program, which began with a list of 75 Great American Garden Books as part of the Society’s celebration of its 75th anniversary in 1997. Each year since then, a distinguished committee of garden communicators selects the award recipients from among the year’s new books submitted by publishers. Books are judged on qualities such as writing style, authority, accuracy, and physical quality. Because of this focus on the overall quality of the winning books, the award is presented jointly to the author and publisher of each book.
Nominations are accepted for the AHS Book Awards each fall.
Winners of the 2020 AHS Book Awards
Fruit Trees for Every Garden: An Organic Approach to Growing Apples, Pears, Peaches, Plums, Citrus, and More.
by Orin Martin with Manjula Martin (Ten Speed Press)
Judges praised this book for its detailed information on growing fruit trees. Amy Campion described it as “a no-nonsense guide for beginning fruit tree growers using the French intensive method of the late Alan Chadwick.” Bill Aldrich noted that while the authors’ overall expertise was evident, “what distinguished this book was the extensive pruning section. Backyard gardeners have little experience in how essential proper pruning is to the eventual size of their crops.” Kim Toscano Holmes said, “Few books provide such detail regarding fruit tree pruning, and I appreciated the honest assessment of available cultivars.”
by Amy Goldman; photographs by Victor Schrager (City Point Press) Amy Goldman’s personal commitment to growing and preserving heir-loom melons, along with her clear expertise, pushed this book into the winner’s circle. “Meticulously re-searched, masterfully written, and beautifully illustrated, The Melon showcases the remarkable diversity within this group of delectable fruits. It was a joy to read,” said Campion. “The Melon warmed my soul the in-stant I opened the book,” said Holmes. “I was delighted to find a wealth of in-formation accompanying the beautiful photography.”
The Scentual Garden: Exploring the World of Botanical Fragrance.
by Ken Druse; botanical photographs by Ellen Hoverkamp (Abrams) Committee members were impressed with Ken Druse’s attempt to classify and describe plant scents. “Obviously this is a difficult task, because scent is very individually perceived, but I think he did a very good job,” said Nancy Rose. “A thorough exploration of a subject that has the potential to add a great deal of pleasure to our gardens,” said Campion. “This book will have you sniffing all your garden plants to determine if you can pick up on all the nuances that Druse’s keen nose can detect!” “Having a language you can apply to scent is very valuable,” said Deb Wiley, who called the book “elegant and edifying.”
AHS’s 2020 Book Award Committee was chaired by Deb Wiley, a garden communicator and botanical garden board director based in Des Moines, Iowa. Other members were: William Aldrich, a master gardener and garden communicator from Springfield, Mo.; Kimberly Toscano Holmes, a freelance communicator and professional horticulturist based in Stillwater, Okla.; Susan Eubank, an arboretum librarian at Los Angeles County Arboretum and Botanic Garden; Amy Campion, a Portland, Oregon-based freelance writer and co-author of “Gardening in the Pacific Northwest”; Catriona Tudor Erler, a garden photographer, author, and speaker from Charlottesville, Va.; and Nancy Rose, a Bridgewater, Massachusetts-based horticulturist, writer, and former educator and researcher.