The Florida MGV Book Club

Book List

Cover of The Founding Gardeners bookSummer 2023: "Founding Gardeners. The Revolutionary Generation, Nature and the Shaping of the American Nation" by Andrea Wulf — Britsh design historian Andrea Wulf tells the story of how gardening and farming shaped the thinking of our country's first leaders. Washington, Adams, Jefferson, and Madison not only operated farms, they all believed agriculture was the noblest occupation and the foundation of democracy. Wulf offers a unique perspective on men associated more with politics than with plants.

Cover of The Scent of Scandal bookSummer 2022: "The Scent of Scandal: Greed, Betrayal, and the World's Most Beautiful Orchid" by Craig Pittman — Pittman, an investigative journalist and native Floridian, brings to life the of Phragmipedium kovachii, the rarest and most sought-after orchid in the world. Prices soared to $10,000 on the black market. Then one showed up at Marie Selby Botanical Gardens. The collision between Selby's scientists and the smugglers of this rare ladyslipper orchid led to search warrants, a grand jury investigation, and criminal charges.

Cover of How Plants Work bookFall 2021: "How Plants Work" by Dr. Linda Chalker-Scott — This fascinating book explores the plant physiology behind many of our gardening practices. We have our routines; we till, plant, weed, prune, mulch, amend, and more. But have you ever wondered how our plants feel about all these activities? The more we consider their inner workings, the more questions spring to mind. How do plants follow the sun? Why do they change color? Whether you're a veteran gardener or just starting out, "the more you know, the better you grow!"

Cover of Florida Oranges bookSummer 2021: "Florida Oranges: A Colorful History" by Erin Thursby — If you're a born and raised Floridian, this will be a trip down memory lane, rich in details about the places you know and love. And for our recently relocated residents, what better way to get to know your new home? "Florida Oranges" is a short read but packed with stories about the birth of the Sunshine State. From Ponce de Leon's first groves in St. Augustine to the current citrus greening crisis, Erin Thursby covers it all.

Cover of the Palmetto BookSpring 2021: "The Palmetto Book" by Jono Miller — From Low Country sweetgrass baskets to Seminole chickees and an Elvis Presley movie set, the story of the cabbage palm touches on numerous dimensions of the natural and cultural history of the Southeast. "The Palmetto Book: Histories and Mysteries of the Cabbage Palm" by natural historian, educator, and activist Jono Miller, explores both the past and present of this distinctive species.

Cover of book Composting for a New GenerationWinter 2021: "Composting for a New Generation" by Michelle Balz — Healthy, nutrient-rich soil is the basis for any plant's success. Unfortunately, in Florida, what we have to work with is mostly sand. If you'd like to improve your soil, explore underground ecosystems, and learn about the chemistry that turns waste into rich compost, we suggest “Composting for a New Generation.” Author (and self-proclaimed compost geek) Michelle Balz will walk you through a host of old and new composting techniques. Get ready to dig into the science of decomposition and learning all you can about soil health!

Cover of book Bringing Nature HomeFall 2020: "Bringing Nature Home" by Douglas Tallamy — Do you remember exploring your first backyard? Discovering each inch of terrain, or following the insects on their march? If backyard ecology still fills you with delight we have just the title for you! “Bringing Nature Home” is an award-winning book about welcoming native plants and wildlife to our urban and suburban jungles. Author Douglas W. Tallamy is an entomologist by trade, but his passion is insect and plant interactions. As you read, you’ll tackle the tough questions of urban ecology and consider your place in the biosphere.

Book cover for The Triumph of SeedsSummer 2020: "The Triumph of Seeds" by Thor Hanson — It's easy to forget how many of the items we take for granted began as seeds. Dive into the wonderful world of grains, nuts, kernels, pulses, and pips with "The Triumph of Seeds," by Thor Hanson. Equal parts natural history and human history, Thor Hanson takes his readers on a journey to the rainforests of Central America, along the spice routes of the Malabar Coast, and across the ocean with the early European explorers. It's the fascinating story of the seeds that "conquered the plant kingdom and shaped human history."

Cover of book Pollinator Friendly GardeningSpring 2020: "Pollinator Friendly Gardening" by Rhonda Fleming Hayes — A new kind of victory garden is popping up in yards and neighborhoods across the county. These gardens aren't meant to feed only humans, though. They are planted with flowers, foliage, and habitats to support pollinators. Whether you are out to save the bees, hoping to avoid hand-pollinating squash, or just looking for a good read, we think you'll enjoy "Pollinator Friendly Gardening," by Rhonda Fleming Hayes. Hayes is a Minnesota Extension Master Gardener, and as enthusiastic about research-based solutions as we are.

Cover of book Foodscape RevolutionWinter 2020: "The Foodscape Revolution" by Brie Arthur — Foodscaping is a growing trend in gardening. It’s an easy entry point for edibles but also a fresh challenge for veteran gardeners. With these creative landscapes, you can enjoy the fruits of the garden, even in communities with dedicated home owner associations. How does one begin foodscaping? Expert Brie Arthur recommends starting small: a lettuce border along a bad, edible grains alongside ornamental grasses, or peppers in the petunia bed. As you become more comfortable mixing these two worlds you will grow more adventurous!

How do I join the book club?

Simply purchase the book we're currently reading, and you're in! A note to our readers who prefer large print: we suggest purchasing an e-book, so the text size can be adjusted.

To share your thoughts and discuss with readers around the state, follow us on social media. We'll be posting frequently on Instagram (@Florida.Master.Gardeners) and Facebook (@florida.mastergardeners). However you decide to connect, we're excited to read and grow with you. Thank you for being a part of our community.