suntimes.com For the “I-hate-hassles” gardener on your Christmas list, give Low Maintenance Garden. Garden gift books for all skill levels December 12, 2008 A gardening book makes a wonderful holiday gift. Here are titles that shine, according to Rochelle Hoffmann, book buyer at the Morton Arboretum Store. Whether you want a book for a beginning gardener or someone who's got two green thumbs, you can find it among these: Grow Organic, Louise Abbott, editor (DK, $25) Not many books actually practice what they preach like this one does. "This is a unique book that is published with eco-friendly materials and methods. It would make a nice gift presentation to a beginning organic gardener," said Hoffmann. "And the photography is luscious!" The book touches on a number of trends, including the idea of "edible landscaping," where food plants are used decoratively in a landscape. The Green Gardener's Guide by Joe Lamp'l (Cool Springs Press, $16.95) Hoffmann likes this book because it addresses "going green as it applies specifically to gardening. TV host Joe Lamp'l presents information in an easy-to-follow format." Chapters cover water conservation, reducing use of chemicals, erosion, composting, protecting animal habitats, and landscaping to reduce your home's energy consumption. A safe bet holiday gift for gardeners is the Tree & Shrub Handbook, which includes how to handle pests and diseases. Low-Maintenance Garden by Jenny Hendy (DK, $9.99) "This richly illustrated book focuses on the low-maintenance approach to gardening," said Hoffmann. The book offers step-by-step instructions for building simple garden structures, a great chapter on ideas for easycare plants, and tips for minimizing upkeep, such as this one: "Weeding success is all about timing. If you miss your window of opportunity in the spring when weeds are young and easy to remove, the rest of the year can be a struggle." The Way We Garden Now by Katherine Whiteside (Potter, $25.95) If you have a friend who wants to garden but is short on time and gardening space, here's "a gift book that is beautifully illustrated and that includes a lot of tips and projects perfect for beginning gardeners," said Hoffmann. The book includes 41 small, medium or large project ideas that are written like recipes, including tools and materials needed. Projects include making a compost pile, brightening shady spots and planting a sunflower "folly." The Tree Care Primer by Christopher Roddick with Beth Hanson(Brooklyn Botanic Garden, $9.95) At a little more than 100 pages, "this book concisely covers the basics of tree care in all stages of growth, from young saplings to aging trees," said Hoffmann. Here's a tip: "Take a site's prevailing wind patterns into account when deciding what type of tree to plant and where. Some trees are structurally better suited to a windy spot than others." Tree & Shrub Handbook, 2nd Edition (The Morton Arboretum, $50) Hoffmann said, "I always recommend the handbook because it not only covers tree care, but also selection and common pests and diseases." The handbook, which shares with Midwest gardeners the Arboretum's vast research and horticulture experience, includes many photographs, charts and step-by-step instructions. Chicago Gardens by Cathy Jean Maloney (The University of Chicago Press, $35) Author Cathy Jean Maloney beautifully describes the colorful early history of gardening in Chicago, including the days when "peacocks strutted across many a manicured lawn" or when neighbors showed off the latest reel lawn mower, which was a "newfangled improvement over the sheep or cows that used to graze the grass." Hoffmann recommends "this well-researched book as a lovely gift for all Chicagoland gardeners." Laurie Casey is a staff writer at the Morton Arboretum in Lisle.