AHS Book Awards


Each year, the American Horticultural Society honors outstanding garden-related books published in North America through its annual Book Award Program. This annual award program originated with a list of 75 Great American Garden Books that was published 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 nominated 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.

AHS’s 2023 Book Award Committee was chaired by Kimberly Toscano Holmes, a freelance communicator and professional horticulturist based in Stillwater, Oklahoma. Members of the committee include Amy Campion, a Portland, Oregon-based freelance writer and co-author of Gardening in the Pacific Northwest; Perla Sofìa Curbelo-Santiago, a garden communicator in San Juan, Puerto Rico; Viveka Neveln, garden editor for BHG.com in Des Moines, Iowa; Caleb Melchior, a Fort Myers, Florida based landscape architect, writer, and podcaster; and Doug Oster, garden writer, television producer, and radio host from Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania.

Here are the three winners of the 2023 AHS Book Awards

100 Plants to Feed the Birds

by Laura Erickson (Storey Publishing)

The award committee members were largely in agreement that this book will be a valuable resource for gardeners everywhere. “I am definitely drawn to this kind of content—it is practical and relatable and will give a lot of people content they can use right away in their backyard regardless of the amount of space they have,” says Perla Sofía Curbelo-Santiago. “The type of information I appreciated—and don’t tend to see in other books—was what each plant provides for birds,” says Kimberly Toscano Holmes. “I really think we need this kind of book—it’s an important resource for gardening for wildlife,” says Amy Campion.



American Wildflowers: A Literary Field Guide

edited by Susan Barba (Abrams)

Committee members were divided on whether this compilation of poems and essays on wildflowers by prominent writers fit the criteria of a garden book, but its uniqueness tipped the scales. “I love this sort of thing,” says Doug Oster. “The uniqueness of it for me was a big selling point—I have not seen anything like this.” Viveka Neveln agreed, noting that “so much passion went into the curation of the pieces that were chosen, and they all give you insights into these specific plants. I feel like it sort of touches people on a different level, as a celebration of plants and what they mean to us,” she says. Curbelo-Santiago was among the committee members who appreciated the lavish watercolor illustrations by Leanne Shapton.


A Gardener’s Guide to Botany

by Scott Zona (Cool Springs Press)

“The author’s explanations of concepts made this book so easy and fun to read. It made we wish I had this book when I was studying biology in high school and college,” says Curbelo-Santiago. “When I was reading it, I found myself thinking, wow, plants are so freaking amazing and I just want to grow them all,” says Neveln.  Holmes was impressed by the quality of the scientific illustrations and felt the book was “useful for people at different levels of learning—it’s for readers who want a deeper understanding.” Caleb Melchior agreed, noting that a chapter on seed dispersal offered insights into the complex interrelationships of plants and animals.

Honorable Mentions

Bloom: The Secrets of Growing Flowering Houseplants Year-Round by Lisa Steinkopf (Cool Springs Press)

Color In and Out of the Garden by Lorene Edwards Forkner (Abrams)

Florida’s Carnivorous Plants by Kenny Coogan (Pineapple Press)

Grow More Food by Colin McCrate and Brad Halm (Storey)

The Prairie Gardener’s Go-To for Soil by Janet Melrose and Sheryl Normandeau (Touch Wood Editions)

Wild Plant Culture by Jared Rosenbaum (New Society Publishers)


See the 2022 award winners. View a list of all previous AHS Book Award winners.

Nominations for the 2024 Book Awards will open in late summer 2023.