First up is Lily's Garden by Deborah Kogan Ray. In addition to her work as a children's book author and illustrator, Kogan Ray is a fine artist whose work includes landscape and nature subjects. Reviewers described Lily's Garden as a book for preschool through 3rd grade, which I think is probably correct. In addition to there being more text here than I'd expect to see for younger children, Lily is in school and and is able to manage a year's worth of gardening activities, either on her own or as part of a family.
Lily's Garden portrays a child who lives within the natural year. Each two-page spread covers one calendar month. On the right page is a narrative of Lily's life planning, managing, and harvesting either her own garden or crops such as blueberries or apples. On the left is a sidebar with more information on the plants (watermelons come from Africa) or activities (harvest festivals around the world) Lily mentions. As with The Rainforest Grew All Around, which also had extras, this material can be read or not, depending on the age and interests of the child reading or being read to. Lily is part of her Maine environment, and there is a comfort aspect to this situation. There is always something for her to do.
Lily's Garden is out-of-print, but well worth looking for in libraries or snagging used, if you can find it.
Isabella's Garden by Glenda Millard, with illustrations by Rebecca Cool, has less of a connection to the real world than Lily's Garden. The illustrations have more of a Tomie dePaola vibe, but dramatic, rather than cute, with intense primary colors. The major hook is the "This is the house that Jack built" text.
all dark and deep,
in Isabella's garden.
These are the seeds
that sleep in the soil,
all dark and deep, in Isabella's garden.
This is the rain that soaks the seeds..."
This book, too, moves through a year. Shoots come up, flowers waltz in the wind, birds are hatched, leaves turn colors, "winter comes swiftly and silent and soon."
Isabella's Garden is listed at Amazon as being for the same age group as Lily's Garden. It probably doesn't have the comfort of working with nature that readers can get from Lily's Garden. It is, however, a beautiful book in both word and image. Beautiful may not be a strong enough word. Perhaps I should call Isabella's Garden stunning. This could be a terrific reading experience for two generations.