• Reference Library
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Horticulture Reference Library

The Elizabeth F. Gamble Horticultural Library is a non-circulating reference library for use on-site by the public, volunteers, and horticultural staff. We are thrilled to share it with you!

To use: The collection is available in the Gamble Garden Main House during open hours 9am-2pm. Click below to access library titles through our online catalog. You may search the catalog via your laptop or iPhone at the library; or, search it from home before you visit.

Type in search words for author, title or subject and click the appropriate button. If you are not sure of the exact title or subject, type in a word or two and search both files. Press a highlighted (blue) title to see the Item’s detail page which might give more searching ideas.

Note: the catalog is not forgiving of misspellings and the search help button does not apply to Gamble.

Books are arranged in the library by an alphabetical call number system, a common classification used in colleges and specialized libraries, which is sorted by letter first and then by number. For example, QL464 comes before SB419 which is followed by SB450.

We welcome your comments and feedback on our new catalog!

Search Catalog



California Garden Tour: the 50 Best Gardens to Visit in the Golden State, By Donald Olson. To find it in the library, look for: SB466.U65 OLS 2017

Highlights public gardens through out the state in an easy-to-use format with essentials (location, hours, admission cost) and evocative descriptions of each garden with color photos.


Garden Photography Workshop: Expert tips and Techniques for Capturing the Essence of Your Garden. By Andrea Jones. To find it in the library, look for TR662 JON 2017

This book is a complete tutorial covering photography basics, equipment and techniques of addressing concerns such as lighting, weather, focus and composition.


Planting Design for Dry Gardens: Beautiful, Resilient Groundcovers for Terraces, Paved Areas, Gravel and Other Alternatives. By Olivier Flippi. To find it in the library, look for SB475.83 FIL 2016

This title describes low-level planting designs that are eco-friendly and beautiful, redefining the distinction between lawn and plant borders. The plant combinations can be used on terraces, paths, gravel beds and flower borders, as well as areas that are traditionally laid to lawn. Includes a plant directory that lists over 200 tough but beautiful dry garden plants and innovative maintenance techniques.


Private Gardens of the Bay Area. By Susan Lowry and Nancy Berner. Photographs by Marion Brenner. To find it in the library, look for SB466.U65 LOW 2017

Organized geographically starting with the Peninsula, moving north to San Francisco, crossing the Bay to Berkeley and Oakland, finishing in wine country, this book is a tour of 35 private gardens. It encompasses a range of micro-climates and a variety of plants. The authors describe the goals of each garden owner and the principles behind the design.


Succulents:  the Ultimate Guide to Choosing, Designing and Growing 200 Easy Care Plants. By Robin Stockwell. To find it in the library, look for SB438 STO 2017

An “ultimate” guide indeed by a leading succulent expert & owner of Succulent Gardens near Watsonville! Stockwell gives advice on care and cultivation, identifies the easiest and most useful plants and inspires readers with ways to use these plants in garden designs, containers, step-by-step projects and much more.


Floret Farm’s Cut Flower Garden: Grow, Harvest, and Arrange Stunning Seasonal Blooms by Erin Benzakein with Julie Chai. Chronicle Books, 2017. To find it in the library, look for: SB 405 BEN 2017

The author is a “flower farmer” and shares her insights to plan a garden yourself with blooms that will grow and thrive. Features planting, cultivating and harvesting advice for more than 175 flower varieties along with tips to preserve their freshness and how-tis for bouquets, garlands
and wreaths. A winner of the American Horticultural Society 2018 Book Awards.

Gardening with Foliage First: 127 Dazzling Combinations that Pair the Beauty of Leaves with Flowers, Bark, Berries, and More by Karen Chapman and Christina Salwitz. Timber Press, 2017. To find it in the library, look for: SB431c CHA 2017

With the right foliage, your garden could shine with color and texture year-round, even after floral blooms fade. The authors offer many combinations that start with intriguing foliage schemes, then layer the flowers, berries, bark and other finishing touches.


Gardens of the High Line: Elevating the Nature of Modern Landscapes by Piet Oudolf and Rick Darke. Timber Press, 2017. To find it in the library, look for: F128.65 OUD

Before it was reused, the High Line was an abandoned industrial rail area, above street level, overgrown with weeds. Today it is a cultural area, a walkway and a green sanctuary—a garden— in an urban setting. It has become a national model of reuse of blighted property. This book, filled with photographs, reveals a four-season garden, filled with native and exotic plants, drought tolerant perennials and grasses that thrive and spread in challenging circumstances. While it’s a NY City story, it is an inspirational model with designs that can apply anywhere, including the home garden.


A Manual of California Vegetation, 2nd Edition By John Sawyer, Todd Keeler-Wolf and Julie M. Evans. California Native Plant Society, 2009. To find it in the library, look for: QK149 SAW 2009

This guide to plant communities focuses on conserving both the individual species and the surrounding habitat. The classification system used in the first edition has now become widely accepted as the state standard. Includes plant descriptions, many vegetation maps, life history information, descriptions of regional variation, and more. Quite a tome!


Where on Earth: A Guide to Specialty Nurseries and Gardens in California, 5th edition by Demi Bowles Lathrop, Barbara Stevens, Nancy Conner. Heyday Books, 2017. To find it in the library, look for: SB118 CON 2017

In depth advice including detailed and up-to-date descriptions of 218 specialty nurseries and growers organized by geographic region, guidance on topics such as working with native plants, water-conserving practices and strategies for working with deer-resistant gardens.246 garden centers and horticultural organizations are listed.


Master Gardener Hotline

Hotline and Weekly Plant Clinic February through November

Master Gardener Hotline and Weekly Plant Clinic February through November.

The Master Gardener Program of the University of California Cooperative Extension, Santa Clara County operates a Hotline and Plant Clinic at Gamble Garden. Be sure to take advantage of this wonderful service.

Master Gardeners will answer your home gardening questions by phone Fridays, February to November, from 1:00 to 4:00 p.m., or you can visit them in the Library at Gamble Garden. The phone number is (650) 329-1356 x205.

In addition, Master Gardeners staff a walk-in Plant Clinic at Gamble Garden on the second Saturday of each month, February through November, from 9:00 to 11:00 a.m.

Mission of the Master Gardener Program

The objectives of this volunteer organization are to support the educational activities of the University of California Cooperative Extension and to operate for scientific and educational purposes, promoting horticultural education and service to the community and providing continuing horticulture enrichment for members. For more information about this valuable organization, visit their web site Master Gardeners Online.

UC Master Gardener Handbook

Save 10% on any UC ANR books ordered online, including the excellent California Master Gardener Handbook, by using our promotion code PRCLA43. A portion of online sales that use our promotion code benefits the UC Master Gardener of Santa Clara County program.

Read more about the California Master Gardener Handbook and other favorite reference books.

Becoming a UC Master Gardener

Interested in becoming a UC Master Gardener in Santa Clara County?

We accept new volunteer applications every two years in even numbered years, then conduct training which leads to certification in the first half of the following year. Go to Becoming a UC Master Gardener – http://mgsantaclara.ucanr.edu/contact-us/becoming-a-master-gardener/ – in January of even numbered years for information about how to apply.

Bay Area Public Gardens

The San Francisco Bay Area is rich with horticultural treasures. The following are some other public gardens worth visiting. Gamble Garden is a member of the American Public Gardens Association. Visit their web site for more information about other gardens worldwide.


The iris bed at Gamble Garden features Dykes Memorial Medal Winners from 1927 to 1968.  The Dykes Memorial Medal is awarded annually by the American Iris Society to the best iris originated and introduced in the United States or Canada.  In some years there was not a winner.  Miss Gamble would have had these medal winners in her garden as well as many others that she admired as the tall bearded iris was her favorite flower.

William Dykes was an iris breeder of the early 20th century.  While working as a schoolmaster he became one of the world’s leading authorities on irises.  He was a botanist, horticulturist, author and plant breeder, and had a deep knowledge of irises.  The British Iris Society honored him with the creation of the Dykes Medal.

Iris rhizomes need lifting every three to five years, as they become crowded and will flower less.  Lift the rhizomes after flowering, when they start making good root growth, between July and September.  Any old pieces can be snapped off and discarded.  Keep pieces about 7” long, joined to the leaves and do not trim the roots.  They then can be replanted back in prepared soil, or potted up in good soil and compost.

This summer the garden volunteers have been lifting the rhizomes from our very special collection of Dykes Medal winners, replanting them, and saving some by potting them up for sale.

The following Dykes Medal winner irises are for sale:

‘The Red Douglas’ 1941 wine red
‘Great Lakes’ 1942 light blue
‘Prairie Sunset’ 1943 apricot peach
‘Spun Gold’ 1944 yellow
‘Chivalry’ 1947 purple
‘Ola Kala’ 1948 deep yellow
‘Helen McGregor’ 1949 pale blue
‘Blue Rhythum’ 1950 cornflower blue
‘Cherie’ 1951 light pink
‘Argus Pheasant’ 1952 light apricot, brown
‘Truly Yours’ 1953 yellow white
‘Mary Randall’ 1954 deep rose pink
‘Sable Night’ 1955 deep purple
‘First Violet’ 1956 light violet
‘Violet Harmony’ 1957 violet
‘Blue Sapphire’ 1958 pale blue
‘Swan Ballet’ 1959 white
‘Eleanor’s Pride’ 1961 powder blue
‘Whole Cloth’ 1962 white, light violet