It’s Time to Garden! (Or at Least Read About it Until the Rain Stops)

My gardening life is cyclical…non-existent in the winter, heavy-duty in Spring and Summer and occasional in the Fall.

I am spending all of my free time these days out in the yard, but let’s face it- it’s been pretty damp lately. The reasonable alternative is to check out all of the gorgeous new gardening books from the library. Here’s a quick review of some of the more popular and enticing new ones, along with some really beautiful and excellent older titles. Hope you enjoy them!

All the Garden’s a Stage: Choosing the Best Performing Plants for a Sustainable Garden by Jane C. Gates.

In this book allthegarden'syou’ll learn how to choose the right plants for growing your best garden. The author encourages you to think of gardening as staging a theatrical production, with tips for lighting, temperature, drainage, and developing a sustainable landscape. The text is entertaining, with easy-to-remember facts and suggestions for putting on the best garden show ever.

Beautiful Edible Garden by Steffani Bittnerbeautiful

I am in line with a hold for this title so all I can report is what our catalog summarizes:  “A stylish, beautifully photographed guide to artfully incorporate organic vegetables, fruits, and herbs into an attractive modern garden design.”   Sounds perfect as I’m always up for edibles.

The Drunken Botanist: Plants that Create the World’s Great Drinks by Amy Stewart

indexThis book was all the rage at the 2013 Seattle Flower and Garden Show. The author gave a hilarious talk, so I’m sure that her book is just as funny. Why not grow what you drink in addition to what you eat?

Grow Vegetables in Pots edited by Emma Callery.index

Every rabid gardener is always looking for new soil to till and it’s so much easier to buy a new pot, fill it with soil, and plant away, than to take up sod, isn’t it? This is from DK publishing so it has many gorgeous photos in addition to fantastic container ideas.

indexThe Layered Garden by David L. Culp

Loads of beautiful photographs of the Brandywine Cottage garden illustrate design lessons for you to create a succession of plant combinations which will bloom from earliest spring until latest winter. A dreamy book!

Powerhouse Plants: 510 Top Performers for Multi-Season Beauty by Graham Rice

indexI love the layout of this book: Clear and simple information on one side with a nice photo on the other side. This book profiles annuals, perennials, trees, shrubs, vines and grasses that would all be hard-working additions to your garden. Be sure to have pen and paper in hand as you read so you can create a plant shopping list.

Western Garden Book: The Twenty Minute Gardener:  Projects, Plants and Designs for Quick and Easy Gardening edited by Kathleen Norris

indexThis book is as easy to use as it is inspiring, whether you grow plants on a balcony, patio, or huge estate. This is a compilation of articles from Sunset Magazine. I’m a twenty-minute gardener every morning before work as I take our dog out into the yard for slug hunts and other business. With the help of this book, you too can be a twenty-minute gardener.

Why Grow That When You Can Grow This: 255 Extraordinary Alternatives to Everyday Problem Plants by Andrew Keys

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Do your Hybrid Tea roses have black spot? Try ‘Knock Out’ or ‘The Fairy’ roses. Are your peonies fussy? Try hellebores.  This book offers specific substitutes for troublesome plants.  Try it. You’ll like it!

And now for a few awesome, albeit older, book titles which still grace our library shelves:

index1000 Garden Ideas by Stafford Cliff is quite the visual sourcebook. It’s like Pinterest in print. If you like pictures, this is the gardening book for you as that’s all it is: Photos. There’s no text (oh, okay, there’s a little if you search for it). This book is definitely for the visual gardener.

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Better Homes and Gardens Beds and Borders includes plans for more than ninety plant-by-number gardens you can grow yourself. This book is packed with loads of great ideas.

indexContainer Gardening: 250 Design Ideas & Step-by-Step Techniques from the editors of Fine Gardening is a fantastic book. There are lots of great color photographs along with ideas and step-by-step instructions for creating beautiful container gardens. Love it!

indexCAEPO15NGarden Gallery: The Plants, Art, and Hardscape of Little and Lewis by George Little & David Lewis is a photographic tour of the private Puget Sound garden of internationally famous artists and plants men Little and Lewis. They share their personal wisdom for what informs and inspires their wild fantasia of plants, hardscape, and art.

Shocking Beauty and The Jewel Box Garden by Thomas Hobbs

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These books from Vancouver B C’s most extravagant gardener are simply gorgeous. They are good for creative ideas, in particular if you like to make the odd ‘shocking garden statement’ yourself. Just leafing through the artful photography will inspire you to try something a little different. Be forewarned, this book will have you ripping out all yellow & red tulips combinations as clichés just won’t cut it for you anymore.

Hey! I think that the sun’s out. See you in the garden!

Leslie

A Horticultural Fantasy

Sorticulture is fast approaching and we’re smack in the middle of gardening season. What better way to ease those sore muscles after a turn in the garden than unwinding with a book featuring some truly crazy gardening practices?

Crystal Gardens by local author Amanda Quick is the first in a new trilogy, the Ladies of Lantern Street. Each of the Ladies of Lantern Street novels focuses on women who are employed by a hired companion agency. While they appear to be hired out as paid companions, the ladies actually use their specialized psychic powers to solve mysteries. Have I lost you? Keep reading—the gardens will take prime focus, I promise.

Crystal Gardens is the story of paid companion and budding novelist Evangeline Ames. She’s come to the small town of Little Dixby to focus on writing her novel. Unfortunately she was followed from London and is attacked in her rented cottage. She flees in the middle of the night and takes refuge in the Crystal Gardens. She has heard the villagers speak warnings of the dangers that lurk within, but she takes a risk that pays off. Eluding her attacker, she is then discovered by the owner of the property, Lucas Sebastian. He offers to help her figure out who sent the attacker after her, and why.

Lucas’s deceased uncle, the former owner of the Crystal Gardens, was rumored to have gone mad trying to improve the properties of the plants in the gardens. No one really knows what makes the plants glow—yes, glow— but the stories of missing intruders are still told in the village. Most people are smart enough to steer clear of the gardens, but the legend of buried Roman gold is enough to lure a few people past the gates despite the rumors that the grounds are haunted.

What may first appear to be a romance wrapped in a mystery and sprinkled with the paranormal is actually a fantastic novel surrounding the creation and growth of the weirdest garden I have ever encountered in literature. You will be fascinated by the horticultural possibilities in Crystal Gardens.

If you enjoy the paranormal aspects of this book, you may also enjoy titles in the Arcane series, written under the two nom de plumes of the author Jayne Ann Krentz : Amanda Quick and Jayne Castle. I’ve always been a fan of her works but these novels have reduced me to counting down the days until the next book is released…and I couldn’t be happier.

Carol