review: The Timber Press Guide to Vegetable Gardening in the Midwest

The Timber Press Guide to Vegetable Gardening in the Midwest

The Timber Press Guide to Vegetable Gardening in the Midwest by Michael VanderBrug

This book strives to be a start-to-finish guide to growing veggies in the Midwest (defined pretty broadly here as Illinois, Indiana, Iowa, Kansas, Michigan, Minnesota, Missouri, Nebraska, North Dakota, Ohio, South Dakota, and Wisconsin). It has basic gardening instruction, planning information, a schedule of what to do January-December, a list of recommended plants, and tables of conversions, hardiness zones, and planting schedules. Printed on matte paper and with line drawing illustrations, this book has a homespun feel that will appeal to many gardeners.

full disclosure: I borrowed this book from the Ann Arbor District Library through the MeLCat interlibrary loan system

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review: Cultivating Chaos

Cultivating Chaos

Cultivating Chaos: How to enrich landscapes with self-seeding plants by Jonas Reif and Christian Kress

As ever, I’m always looking for low-maintenance plants for the garden. Self-seeders definitely fit the bill and there are a ton of great options detailed here. The authors’ philosophy is to integrate planning and maintenance into one process, which sounds to me like an ideal way to do things. In addition to great information, this book also offers large color photographs of self-seeded gardens and plants (photos by Jurgen Becker) which offer inspiration for various types and styles of planting. The authors feature several specific environments which contain self-seeding plantings in a natural setting with photos and info of both the larger environments and individual plants. Specific techniques such as soil preparation and adjustment are outlined, maintenance for specific plants is recommended, and individual plant profiles are listed.

full disclosure: I borrowed this book from the Ann Arbor District Library through the MeLCat ILL system

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review: Happy Home Outside

Happy Home Outside

Happy Home Outside: Everyday Magic for Outdoor Life by Charlotte Hedeman Gueniau

The focus here is on bringing the comforts of the indoors to the outdoors with a very colorful, cozy aesthetic. The DIY projects mostly reuse found objects and range from quite simple to a bit more involved. A number of recipes are scattered throughout along with ideas for gatherings and parties. I was annoyed to see a tipi and racist terminology in the accompanying text, which pretty much ruined this book for me. Not recommended.

full disclosure: I borrowed this book from the Ann Arbor District Library through the MeLCat ILL system

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review: The Art of Gardening

The Art of Gardening

The Art of Gardening: Design Inspiration and Innovative Planting Techniques from Chanticleer by R. William Thomas et al.

Chanticleer is a renowned public garden in Wayne, Pennsylvania. It strives to be a pleasure garden, a place where people can enjoy themselves in nature without a strict purpose beyond enjoyment and perhaps inspiration. It is made up of a series of garden rooms devoted to various garden styles and purposes, created using the buildings on the site, specific plantings, and taking advantage of microclimates. The variety of garden rooms means gardeners with all sorts of conditions in their own gardens will find useful information and inspiration here. The romantically but descriptively named rooms, defined here as being enclosed in some way (most by plantings but a few by walls), include the Bog by the Ponds, the Gravel Garden, the Moss Walk, the Sun Porch, the Ruin, the Pond Arbor, the Teacup Garden, the Overlook, the Fiddlehead Path, and many others. There are many specific plants named and pictured, but one of the most useful elements here may be the examples provided of layered planting combinations which give each space life and interest throughout the growing season. All in all, this book exemplifies the attention and devotion that the caregivers of Chanticleer give to their gardens.

full disclosure: I borrowed this book from Ann Arbor District Library through the awesome MeLCat interlibrary loan system

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