review: Garden Revolution

Garden Revolution

Garden Revolution: How our landscapes can be a source of environmental change by Larry Weaner and Thomas Christopher

This title really appealed to me. I am for sure all about designing our garden to support the environment and am always keen to learn more about how to do that. Lucky for me, the ways that Weaner and Christopher recommend doing this fall right in line with my lazy gardening philosophy. There’s lots of surface-sowing, use of native plants, creating/encouraging plant communities, and minimal need for watering and weeding. The focus is on working with what nature wants to do, rather than fighting it. In everything here, the goal is for self-sufficiency, which makes for stronger plants and for reduced workload for the humans. There are also lots of large color photographs, both wide shots and close-ups, which provide inspiration and ideas for things I might do in my own garden. Many of the gardens featured here are expansive prairies and meadows but smaller gardens are also included. Seed lists and resources are provided.

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

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review: Big Dreams, Small Garden

Big Dreams, Small Garden

Big Dreams, Small Garden: A Guide to creating something extraordinary in your ordinary space by Marianne Willburn

A small garden is not really the challenge I’m facing these days (my issue is how to turn our huge lawn into a big garden) but there is a lot of great info here that applies regardless of your space. Much of this book is devoted to the part of gardening that happens before you actually do any gardening: planning. There is much encouragement for letting go of preconceived notions and using other gardens as inspiration, as well as finding creative ways to achieve goals like creating privacy, growing food, and many others. Willburn’s friendly, conspiratorial tone invites the reader to connect with the ideas and images – just as Willburn tells us “why garden porn is good,” the photos here provide inspiration and ideas for the reader’s own space. This book is fun to read as well as informational.

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

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review: Cut Flower Garden

Cut Flower Garden

Floret Farm’s Cut Flower Garden: Grow, harvest & arrange stunning seasonal blooms by Erin Benzakein with Julie Chai, photographs by Michele M. Waite

I have not done much with cut flowers. I love growing flowers in the garden, but I’ve usually just left them where they grow rather than cutting them to come inside. I do enjoy cut flowers in the house, though, so I’d like to be able to grow enough to have them inside without denuding the garden. This book starts from scratch with information about testing your soil and designing your garden. It then moves in to work by season, starting with spring including tasks, things that bloom in that season, and projects (mostly arrangements). For me, the best use of this book is as a guide to what blooms when and what combinations will look nice. I definitely want to keep adding things to our gardens so that we have blooms throughout the seasons and this will help me make a list of future additions.

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

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review: The Aromatherapy Garden

The Aromatherapy Garden

The Aromatherapy Garden: Growing fragrant plants for happiness and well-being by Kathi Keville

I haven’t really explored the concept of aromatherapy before, but I definitely like to grow fragrant plants and find it satisfying to walk through the garden and smell them around me. This book starts off with some history of the use of fragrant plants and the basics of essential oils. Annoyingly there are a few comments that put me off, such as, “Primrose contains a trace of cinnamon scent, which is favored by men,” and “what women do not care for is the scent of cherry.” Really, though? Did you find some peer-reviewed data that prove this to be true? There are references to studies, but no specifics and I find these kind of generalities difficult to believe. This makes me skeptical of the other claims contained in this book, so I ended up using it as inspiration via the lovely color photos of plants and gardens and as a source for making a list of fragrant plants I might want to grow.

full disclosure: I borrowed this book from the Baldwin Public Library via the MeLCat interlibrary loan system

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review: The Quest for Shakespeare’s Garden

Shakespeare's Garden

The Quest for Shakespeare’s Garden by Roy Strong

Shakespeare is already a romanticized figure, but thinking about his garden is, if possible, even more so. This book is lovely, with a sturdy cover that looks ready to age gracefully (like a book you’d find and know just by holding it that it contained valuable information) and thick pages with full-color illustrations from a variety of historical sources dating back to 1616. Strong explores the world of nature, the Victorian language of flowers, garden history, and more as relate to Shakespeare and his works. The combination of illustrations, highlighted quotes, and informative text create a nicely balanced work as easily read start to finish as flipped through casually. Also includes Francis Bacon’s ‘Of Gardens’ essay. Fully indexed and with a detailed list of illustration sources.

full disclosure: I borrowed this book from the Hillsdale College Library via the MeLCat interlibrary loan system

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review: Heirloom Country Gardens

Heirloom Country Gardens

Heirloom Country Gardens: Timeless Treasures for Today’s Gardens by Sarah Wolfgang Heffner

I was excited to snag this book for my garden collection. Heirloom plants? I’m in! Country gardens? I’m in! Cute cover with hand-drawn illustrations of pea pods? I’m super in. There’s a ton of great info here, as well as plenty of inspiration in the form of photos of other people’s gardens. I love to be able to see various plants growing in combination, especially in settings where they’ve had time to get established. Also included are lovely watercolor plans for various garden designs, each accompanied by a chart listing the plants along with the quantity needed to create the illustrated plan and notes for spacing and on particular aspects of each plant (“may go dormant by midsummer,” “often self-sows.”) The second section details vegetables, providing origin, classifications, growing info, how to save seed, and a handful of heirloom selections. Subsequent chapters focus on heirloom flowers, herbs, and fruits, including special features, history, and growing info for each. The final chapters provide more general information about creating and maintaining healthy, happy gardens, as well as some projects and recipes that will be at home in an heirloom garden or use the fruits of your garden labor.

full disclosure: I bought this book for a quarter at a rummage sale

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review: Landscape and Garden Design Sketchbooks

Landscape and Garden Design Sketchbooks

Landscape and Garden Design Sketchbooks by Tim Richardson

This book contains sketches, landscape plans, and photos of 3D models of 37 gardens all over the world. A brief overview provides background about the garden and its planning process. The plans and sketches use a variety of media and are presented in relatively large format (the book is oversize) – it feels like an art book combined with a high-end designer’s sketchbook. It is gorgeous to look through and the only thing I wish it had included were photos of the completed gardens to compare with the designs. One bonus: this book is essentially a list of gardens that one might want to visit.

full disclosure: I borrowed this book from the James White Library at Andrews University through the MeLCat interlibrary loan system

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review: Growing Vegetables, Herbs & Fruit

Growing Vegetables, Herbs & Fruit

Growing Vegetables, Herbs & Fruit: A step-by-step guide to kitchen and allotment gardening with 1400 photographs by Richard Bird & Jessica Houdret

This hefty (over 500 pages) guide to growing your own food goes from the history of food gardens all the way through everything a gardener needs to know. It is filled with full-color photos on glossy paper, providing inspiration along with information. Though the design sections are not super lengthy, they provide creative ideas for different ways to set up your gardens, illustrated with photos and hand-drawn diagrams. Directories of vegetables, fruit, and herbs are also provided and include a wide variety of plants (the herb directory especially takes a broad definition of the term and includes a lot more than just the typical kitchen garden herbs).

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

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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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