How To

6 Books for the Goth Gardener

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Anna Gooding-Call

Staff Writer

Anna Gooding-Call is a librarian and writer originally from rural central New York. She got her BA in the city that inspired "The Twilight Zone" and confirms that the hitchhikers really are weird there. Today, she lives in Massachusetts with her wife and two cats.

Do you like to thrust your hands into the dirt and dwell on burial rites? Do you savor the reputations of nightshade and oleander? Do your flowers bloom at night? If you answered “yes” to any of those questions, then you may be a goth gardener! Wow, do we ever have some books for you. Prepare for next season (or stock up on winter houseplants) with the guidance and wisdom of these goth-friendly gardening guides.

Sadly, but not surprisingly when it comes to gardening books, this list lacks diversity. There are absolutely goths of color and gardeners of color, but nobody who fits both of those categories has yet written a book that I could find. That said, the Arboretum Foundation has a list of books by gardeners of color that is not to be missed regardless of what you intend to grow. (And here’s another awesome article about Black goths! I share it because I read it and I liked it and you will too!)

Wicked Plants by Amy Stewart

Organized alphabetically, this book will guide you in your selection of lethal flora for your deadly little garden patch. Be warned: the author doesn’t condone the cultivation of this terrifying topiary. There is little in the way of actual advice here. However, if you’re experienced, brave, and in possession of some Kevlar garden gloves, then this is a wonderful source of inspiration.

Plants That Kill by Elizabeth A. Dauncey and Sonny Larsson

Like the previous title, this book describes in detail the plants that mean us harm. However, it also focuses on how these plants have historically interacted with humankind through ritual, medicine, and culture. The true goth gardener understands that entangled histories are the darkest sort.

The Savage Garden, Revised: Cultivating Carnivorous Plants by Peter D’Amato

Life is a cycle of death and rebirth. These plants are just helping it along a little, and you’ll tend them like Persephone tending the pomegranate groves of Hades. Unlike our previous entries, this is an actual and particular how-to. Keep in mind that, in addition to being beautiful and deadly, many of these plants are aggressively useful in terms of pest control. Goth gardener win-win!

Growing Mushrooms: The Complete Grower’s Guide to Becoming a Mushroom Expert and Starting Cultivation at Home by Richard Korman

Mushrooms thrive on death, so they understand you. They also thrive in the dark and dig that underground scene. Creepy, cool, and also quite delicious. If you yourself don’t get out into the sun much, then they can also be a good source of vitamin D. Why are you not already growing mushrooms?

Black Plants: 75 Striking Choices for the Garden by Paul Bonine

Obvs, you need some plants that are the same color as your depthless soul. Don’t pass up the chance to match your houseplants to your decor and wardrobe! The book covers black blossoms, deep burgundy leaves, indigo stems, and everything in between. If Morticia Addams ever tolerated a flower in her house, it would certainly come from this book.

The Twilight Garden by Lia Leendertz

This book’s luscious photographs will both chill your soul and fire up your ambition. Imagine the contrast between a garden of darkness active during the day and the ghostly silver of so many of these ideal midnight plants. If you’re into water features and other geographical improvements, you’ll find plenty to inspire you here.

Want to do a little more gardening? We have resources galore! We’ve got your goth reading needs covered, too.