Desert Gardening Book List

References for desert landscaping ideas, concepts, methods, and plant sources.

NOTE: Any plants mentioned in these references not found on the Indian Wells Valley Water District’s Approved Plant List may not be climatically suited for the Indian Wells Valley.

Books and Pamphlets

Many of these books are in stock or can be special ordered through the Maturango Museum. A number of these books will also be available through the Ridgecrest Branch Library.

The Complete Book of Cacti & Succulents
Terry Hewitt
DK Publishing, Inc.; 1997
Features the history, cultivation, and imaginative use of more than 300 plants in step-by-step color

Cool Plants for Hot Gardens: 200 Water-Smart Choices for the Southwest
Gregg Starr
Rio Nuevo Publishers; 2009
An encyclopedia of interesting and colorful plants for southwest gardens.

The Desert Gardener’s Calendar: Your Month-by-Month Guide
George Brookbank
University of Arizona Press; 1997
Especially valuable for people who are new to desert living and gardening.

A Desert Gardeners Companion
Kim Nelson
Rio Nuevo Publishers; 2001
A list of month-by-month desert garden chores from a master gardener.

Desert Gardening Fruits & Vegetables
George Brookbank
Fisher Books
Fertilizing and watering information is especially good.

Extreme Gardening: How to Grow Organic in the Hostile Deserts
David Owens
Poco Verde Landscape; 2000
Quintessential guide to organic vegetable gardening against all odds.

Gardening in the Desert: A Guide to Plant Selection and Care
Mary F. Irish
University of Arizona Press; 2000
Many books offer advice on adapting plants to the desert; this one tells how gardeners can better
adapt themselves to the challenge.

Gardening in the Southwest
Kathleen Norris Brenzel, Philip Edinger and the Editors of Sunset Magazine
Sunset Books; 2005
A wealth of great and doable landscaping ideas from the Sunset experts.

High Desert Yards & Gardens
Lynn Ellen Doxon
University of New Mexico Press; 1999
Tips for beginning new yards and maintaining established ones, including converting lawns to xeriscapes.

The Hot Garden: Landscape Design for the Desert Southwest
Scott Calhoun
Rio Nuevo Publishers; 2009
An informative, inspiring and witty guide to garden design in dry climates.

Landscaping with Native Plants of the Southwest
George Oxford Miller
Voyageur Press; 2007
A guide to choosing the best of the garden-worthy native plants of Arizona and New Mexico.

The Low-Water Flower Gardener: Plants for the Arid West
Eric A. Johnson and Scott Millard
Ironwood Press; 1992
Useful for both planning a garden and choosing the perfect, colorful blossoms.

Native Landscaping from El Paso to LA
Sally Wasoski with Andy Wasowski
McGraw Hill; 2000
Create a drought-tolerant, environmentally friendly, low-maintenance and affordable garden.

The New Book of Salvias: Sages for Every Garden
Betsy Clebsch
Timber Press; 2008
This amazingly varied plant – and its many brothers, sisters and cousins – is known for its pest and disease resistance, drought tolerance and gorgeous flowers.

Perennials for the Southwest: Plants That Flourish in Arid Gardens
Mary Irish
Timber Press; 2006
Doyen of desert gardening Mary Irish shares an incredible palette of pretty perennials.

Plants for Dry Climates: How to Select, Grow, and Enjoy
Mary Rose Duffield and Warren Jones
Perseus Publishing; 2001 (revised edition)
A classic book on desert gardening with hundreds of descriptions of desert-hardy plants.

Plants for Natural Gardens: Southwestern Native and Adaptive Trees, Shrubs, Wildflowers, and Grasses
Judith Phillips
Museum of New Mexico Press; 1995
Companion book to Natural by Design concentrates on over two hundred SW native plants.

Southwestern Landscaping with Native Plants
Judith Phillips
Museum of New Mexico Press; 1987
One of the first books to inspire gardeners in the arid west, it is still in print and very useful.

Tough Plants in a Fragile Land: Saving Our Planet, One Garden at a Time
by Fritzie von Jessen
Dorrance Publishing Co.; 2008
Introducing beginning and expert gardeners to the beauty of desert gardening through the use of native plants and gardening in a chemical-free, holistic manner.

Trees and Shrubs for the Southwest:Woody Plants for Arid Gardens
Mary Irish
Timber Press; 2008
Another great volume from the doyen of desert gardening, this time on trees and shrubs.

Waterwise Garden Care Booklet
High Country Gardens Publications
request through

Waterwise Gardening
Editors of Sunset and Sunset Books
Lane Publishing; Menlo Park; 1991
Out of print but worth searching for a library copy.