Skip to main content

Our Favorite Pages

Ben Page began collecting books over 30 years ago about architecture, interior design, landscape architecture and horticulture as well as biographies about the pioneers in these arenas – Olmstead, Jekyll, Birnbaum, Page.  Many were purchased at a small bookstore in New York City that is, sadly, no longer in business.  Ben continues collecting to this day and has amassed a library of well over 1,000 volumes, including several first editions.  A Vanderbilt librarian was secured years ago to log all of the books with the Dewey Decimal system and create a full card catalog.  The collection continues to be a passion of Ben’s and we look forward to sharing more in the months to come about some of the wonderful volumes contained in the Page Duke library.

If you’re a lover of horticulture and architecture books, are looking for that perfect gift for the gardener in your life, or want to curl up with something other than a turkey leg this holiday, may we suggest some of our favorites from the staff at Page Duke?

For the novice or experienced gardeners in your life:

Plants that Merit Attention: Trees by Janet M. Poor

Recommended by Page Duke associate, Wade Rick, this is a solid reference book for the reader who wants to increase their horticulture knowledge about trees.

The Education of a Gardener by Russell Page

Ben Page (no relation) insists this must be in the library of everyone interested in garden design.
For the younger adult demographic, Mamie Kostka gives a shout out for A Time to Plant by James Farmer.  Farmer gives a fresh look on gardening for a new generation, sharing how to make it a focal point our lives.  An added bonus is recipes for seasonal meals – farm to table at home.

For the environmental advocate:

The Big Thirst by Charles Fishman changed the way that Gavin Duke thinks about water, our relationship to it, and how we can creatively ensure that there will always be plenty of it for his own daughter, Poppy, and the generations to come.

Jason Gabbards’s must-read for a wide range of audiences: from those interested in an environmental career to the beginning gardener, is Second Nature by Michael Pollan.  Pollan takes the heavy subject of humans controlling nature and interjects humor and intrigue.
Since he was first introduced to Last Child in the Woods by Richard Louv, Ben Page has suggested it as a must-read for everyone between the ages of 15 and 20 years old and anyone that interacts with someone in that age group.  “The critical imperative in preserving the environment is only half of the equation – the other half is getting our kids acquainted with the environment that surrounds them.  This is how they will become impassioned to preserve it – they must appreciate it.”


For the sheer love of experiencing true garden reading pleasure:

If you want to enjoy reading for the craftsmanship and composition talents of the writer… when the fire’s going and it’s a lazy Saturday afternoon, Gavin Duke finds true pleasure in The Essays of E.B. White.

Devin in the White City by Eric Larson reads like a true crime novel.  Rich with prose regarding the design of the architecture and landscape for the 1893 Chicago World’s Fair, this non-fiction book is based on real events, including the landscape design and planning process of the first landscape architect Frederick Law Olmsted.  Jason Gabbard’s favorite, unexpected twist is that Lawson even manages to incorporate a sinister murder mystery!

For a little lighter fare, Gardens Make Me Laugh, by James Rose, is quite simply a rebel’s view of modern landscape architecture in a revolt against the Beaux-Art tradition.  It challenged what the conventional American garden was and what it could be.  Ed Tessier enjoys it today because he feels we currently are in a similar transition as to what traditional landscape is and does.

What begins as a vacation becomes a life changing examination of landscape and our connection to landscape in Across the Open Field: Essays Drawn from English Landscape by Laurie Olin.  The sketches emphasize that connection both spatially and emotionally.  “It’s a great book especially for programming your brain to think about issues in a different light” confirms Ed Tessier.

And finally, for those who love to peruse beautiful pictures and pages, Mamie Kostka finds delight in looking through The Garden Book by Phaidon Press.  “This amazing book is filled with unique and beautiful gardens from all over the world transporting the reader to uniquely diverse gardens as they are provided insight into their development.”

We asked our friends on Facebook for their recommendations. Here are a few:

The Secret Gardens of the Vieux Carre- The Historic French Quarter of New Orleans by Roy F. Guste Full of inspiring spaces! – Jackie Hicks, Nashville

The Colors of Nature: Subtropical Gardens by Raymond Jungles- Malcom Miller

In and Out of the Garden by Sara Midda and Gardens by the Sea by D`arnoux, Lennard and De Laubadere- Anne Manfredo Darken, Nashville