Our Favorite Books of 2020
Peruse the FLOWER editors' favorite titles of the year on the topics of gardens, flowers, interior design, entertaining, and more
Click the arrows on the images below (or swipe if on a mobile device) to see all 35 books featured in Flower magazine or on flowermag.com in 2020.
The city of Tangier is as complex as the ancient tapestries, tile mosaics, and carved lattices that adorn its homes. Over centuries, it has been Carthaginian, Phoenician, Roman, Vandal, Berber, Arab, Portuguese, English, Spanish, and, finally, Moroccan—each era leaving its ornamental imprint. It’s fitting then, that in the pages of Inside Tangier: Houses & Gardens (Vendome, 2019), interior designer Nicolò Castellini Baldissera tells the city's story through its décor. See more from this book in our story "The Mystique of Morocco."
Author and entertaining maven Stephanie Booth Shafran, her husband, and their seven children spend their time between Los Angeles, New York, and Sun Valley. “Our blended family has brought me a life bigger than I ever could have imagined and so many occasions to celebrate,” she says. “The joy I find entertaining for my friends and family inspired my first book, You’re Invited: Classic, Elegant Entertaining (Rizzoli New York, 2020).” See an excerpt from the book.
In French Country Cottage Inspired Gatherings
(Gibbs Smith, 2020), blogger, author, and photographer Courtney Allison
applies her design aesthetic to entertaining. She gives advice and shares her experience on topics such as linens, lighting, place settings, and flowers. Some of her signatures include vintage silver, etched-crystal wineglasses, and rustic containers of lush blooms. “Old painted buckets, metal bins, gathering baskets, and zinc or galvanized vessels are some of my favorite picks for large arrangements,” she writes.
In Summer to Summer: Houses by the Sea
(Vendome, 2020), writer Jennifer Ash Rudick and photographer Tria Giovan, the talents behind Out East: Houses and Gardens of the Hamptons (
Vendome, 2017) have teamed up again to deliver a collection of magical summer houses in Maine, Nantucket, Provincetown, Martha’s Vineyard, and more, showcasing a bevy of styles for summertime living. We can almost feel the beachside breezes and sand under our feet while gathering decorating ideas to try.
Cultivated: The Elements of Floral Style
(Princeton Architectural Press, 2020) by Christin Geall offers a fresh, thoughtful approach to arranging. Art and art history have influenced Geall, and she writes about how paintings can provide guidance about color, light, and movement. The chapter on creativity encourages all us to train, practice, and study in order to develop artistically. “Creatives, in my opinion, are largely made, not born,” writes Geall.
Our longtime readers will remember Debra Prinzing as a former Flower
magazine columnist. Today, she uses her talents to advocate for the local, sustainable flower industry through her Slow Flowers website, podcast,
and column. Slow Flowers Journal – Volume One
(Wildflower Media, 2020) is a collection of her essays about the Slow Flowers Movement for Florists’ Review. Signed copies
The Language of Flowers
by Odessa Begay (Harper Collins, 2020) explores an old and well-loved topic, preserving the fancy of the Victorian volumes but with a more contemporary approach. Fifty flowers are presented, drawing on a rich array of art, literature, the customs of various religions and cultures, folklore, horticulture, and more. We love reading about our favorite flowers, and the illustrations are engaging and lively.
Hilton Carter is wild about interiors, especially when they are filled with houseplants. His second book Wild Interiors (CICO Books 2020) takes us inside beautiful, lush interiors belonging to devoted plant lovers across the U.S. and around the world. Signed copies available. See our book review.
In Garden Design Master Class
, edited by Carl Dellatore (Rizzoli New York, 2020), you are front and center with some of the world’s most acclaimed gardeners, who advise in 100 essays on how to take your garden to the next level. Showcasing all types of gardens and uncovering mysteries about garden theory, structure, and process, this book will be filled with sticky notes, and your garden will be grateful for it.
Private Gardens of Santa Barbara (Gibbs Smith, 2020) focuses on a tiny sliver of paradise. Author Margie Grace takes readers on a romp through 18 lush Southern California oases. The enviable indoor/outdoor lifestyle, including beach-side gardens, is on full display, sprinkled with inspiring stories of transformation.
S Is for Style: The Schumacher Book of Decoration (Rizzoli, 2020) takes readers on a deep dive into the company’s archives, featuring iconic fabrics wielded by some of America’s best designers over the last century. Part decorating guide, part inspiration, part personality profiler, it’s proof of why this 131-year-old company remains a vanguard of good taste.
(Abrams, 2020), designer Jan Showers’ third book, illustrates the unique imprint of one person’s point of view. Jan’s particular alchemy of shine, shimmer, curves, and confidence shows that every space looks better with a little glamour.
As a child Héloïse Brion shuttled from her American life in Florida to summers at her French grandmother’s home in the Pyrenees. Her memories of those summers are the stuff of fairy-tales—days spent in the service and rhythm of preparing meals over the wood-fired oven. After a stint in fashion, Héloïse and her husband bought an old hunting lodge in Normandy they named Miss Maggie and settled in with their young family. In Miss Maggie’s Kitchen: Relaxed French Entertaining (Flammarion, 2020), Héloïse shares the rustic cuisine of her ancestral home and the casually chic way of entertaining in the French country style. Try Héloïse's recipe for Butternut Squash, Asparagus, and Pea Lasagna.
Aerin Lauder’s Entertaining Beautifully
(Rizzoli, 2020) offers a more panoramic look at putting on a party. Featuring a year’s worth of gatherings, from a Halloween children’s party to a Hamptons garden lunch, it’s clear Aerin treats entertaining as a form of creative expression.
Most consider the portrait and the landscape to be opposing visual expressions. In Garden Portraits: Experiences of Natural Beauty (Monacelli Press, 2020), photographer Larry Lederman turns that thinking on its head, capturing gardens with the tenderness and familiarity often reserved for a sitting subject. The book’s 16 private gardens present the garden as a space itself; in Larry’s words, “a portal to the natural world.”
The Graphic Garden
by landscape designer Keith Williams (Pointed Leaf Press, 2020) is like a one-way ticket to the tropics. His gardens, a powerful balance of linear and lush, bring the banyan trees, bougainvillea, and beach breeze to you, wherever your armchair may be.
In Be My Guest: At Home with the Tastemakers (Flammarion, 2020), Pierre Sauvage of bespoke decorative accessories firm Casa Lopez delivers on three fronts—we step into the interiors of 20 tastemakers, see how they entertain, and learn about their favorite recipes, tried and true and often handed down. See our book review.
Dior in Bloom (Flammarion, 2020), the newest book about the legendary couture genius Christian Dior, explores in detail the designer’s passion for flowers and gardens. See our book review.
Avid gardener, preservationist, and author Benjamin F. Lenhardt Jr. fills our winter days with beauty in Gardens of the North Shore of Chicago
(The Monacelli Press, 2020). Illustrated by the photography of Scott Shigley, this book immerses us in the rich histories and designs of 25 beautiful private gardens that we have never before had the privilege to explore. See our feature story on this book.
More Books We Love
12 Books for Living Large at Home: Bored, restless, tired of streaming? Try a new activity, recipe, gardening idea, or delve into the curious histories of everyday items in your home—these titles spark engagement in our current lifestyles during Covid-19. See story.