Purdue Libraries and School of Information Studies News

Gardening Books from Purdue University Press

April 14th, 2020

Whether you’re a master gardener or in need of a pleasant distraction Purdue University Press publishes wonderful books on the outdoors, including books on horticulture, agriculture, and the natural history of the Midwest. Below you can find a few of our featured titles on gardening.

A History of Zinnias: Flower for the Ages

by Eric Grissell


A History of Zinnias is a cultural and horticultural history documenting the development of garden zinnias—one of the top ten garden annuals grown in the United States today.

“A perfect book for those who love history, plants, the unraveling of mysteries, and a wry sense of humor. Through meticulous research, Eric Grissell debunks numerous tall tales about zinnias and gives readers the real story.”

—Ellen Dean, curator, UC Davis Center for Plant Diversity

The deep and exciting history of garden zinnias pieces together a tale involving Aztecs, Spanish conquistadors, people of faith, people of medicine, explorers, scientists, writers, botanists, painters, and gardeners. The trail leads from the halls of Moctezuma to a cliff-diving prime minister; from Handel, Mozart, and Rossini to Gilbert and Sullivan; from a little-known confession by Benjamin Franklin to a controversy raised by Charles Darwin; from Emily Dickinson, who writes of death and zinnias, to a twenty-year-old woman who writes of reanimated corpses; and from a scissor-wielding septuagenarian who painted with bits of paper to the “Black Grandma Moses” who painted zinnias and inspired the opera Zinnias.

Free Preview of the Book.

Interview with Eric Grissell.


Native Trees of the Midwest: Identification, Wildlife Values, and Landscaping Use

by Sally S. Weeks, Harmon P. Weeks, Jr., and George R. Parker


Native Trees of the Midwest is a definitive guide to identifying trees in Indiana and surrounding states, written by three leading forestry experts. Descriptive text explains how to identify every species in any season and color photographs show all important characteristics. Not only does the book allow the user to identify trees and learn of their ecological and distributional attributes, but it also presents an evaluation of each species relative to its potential ornamental value for those interested in landscaping.

The revised and expanded second edition contains a chapter on introduced species that have become naturalized and invasive throughout the region. All accounts have been reviewed and modifications made when necessary to reflect changes in taxonomy, status, or wildlife uses. Keys have been modified to incorporate introduced species.


A HISTORY OF ZINNIAS was released in March of 2020.


Shrubs and Woody Vines of Indiana and the Midwest : Identification, Wildlife Values, and Landscaping Use

by Sally S. Weeks and Harmon P. Weeks, Jr.


As the definitive identification guide to the shrubs and woody vines of Indiana, this book also provides coverage of 90% of the species to be found in surrounding Midwestern US states. As well as covering indigenous species, it also includes all currently known invasive shrubs.

The authors provide practical guidance concerning the potential ornamental value of each species for those interested in landscaping and also evaluate their potential value for encouraging wildlife. Designed for experts in natural resource management as well as the interested general public, the volume includes distribution maps, identification keys, and an index of both common and Latin names.


Possum in the Pawpaw Tree: A Seasonal Guide to Midwestern Gardening

by B. Rosie Lerner and Beverly S. Netzhammer


Inspired by actual gardeners’ inquiries, each chapter deals with such down-to-earth subjects as when to start seeds, why plants might fail to bloom, pruning techniques, identifying and controlling common pests, home fruit production, plant propagation, harvesting and storing, and seasonal gift ideas.

Possum in the Pawpaw Tree is aimed at the heartland of the United States, where “normal” weather means bitter winters, torrential spring rains, and summer drought. Since such normal weather is assured, midwestern gardeners must be prepared for the unexpected. The seasonal arrangement serves as a starting point for beginners and provides reminders for more experienced gardeners. Monthly topics cover houseplants, garden flowers, vegetables, woody landscape plants, lawns, and ideas for new gardening adventures.


The Complete Plant Selection Guide for Landscape Design

by Marc Stoecklein



In this book the author has created a quick and easy-to-use reference guide for choosing plant material for landscape designs. This reference manual includes comprehensive lists with search criteria for each of the major plant groups, including trees, shrubs, groundcovers, perennials, vines, grasses, and ferns.

The book is technical enough for the professional, yet simple enough to be used by the layperson. Both botanical and common names are used and an extensive amount of cultural and environmental information is presented.




You can get 30% all Purdue University Press titles by ordering from our website and using the discount code PURDUE40.