Winter, time to catch up with
your garden reading

Linda Knox
Adams County Master Gardener

When bleak weather makes it impossible to be out in your garden, you may find one of the following books a pleasant substitute. Check them out from your local Adams County Library.

A Garden Makes a House a Home, by Elvin McDonald, Monacelli Press (2012), is a great choice. Let's face it! The garden book with beautiful photographs is irresistible to many browsers whether gardeners or not. Add to those the descriptions of subjects by a capable editor of several garden magazines and writer of over fifty gardening books and you have an inspirational combination.

In the preface McDonald relates the changes made to the yard of his rented home in Iowa, using his stockpile of furniture and objects in a garden associated with the apartment where he lived for two years. Beginning with the Northeast, he chooses five homes of various types, describing the changes owners made in their gardens. Full page and frequent double spread photographs reveal the treasures that make each one special.

Captions name blooming plants and structures with one full page giving background information. At least six pages are devoted to each property.

A colorful oversize paperback, Small Space Container Gardens, Timber Press (2012), reveals methods of growing plants in many spots other than the "yard" around your house. Fern Richardson's subtitle, "Transform Your Balcony, Porch or Patio with Fruits, Flowers, Foliage and Herbs", implies the purpose of this extremely helpful volume. While basically a how-to volume, this collection of practical information and a multitude of suggestions gives the gardening reader choices while "unleashing your personality."

The first chapters center on making harmonious plant combinations and suitable decorative touches to help create a 'very personal oasis.' Color schemes for plants, how to transform pots into special unique containers, and an unusual list of unlikely containers appear in the opening chapters. Every part of the book emphasizes the suitability of plants to specific purposes, with special sections on bromeliads, ferns, vines, and succulents. Ways to use natural herbs to attract wildlife and discourage pests are discussed as well as less desirable insecticides.

An especially interesting how-to is the "vertical pallet garden." Later chapters have actual sketched designs for a balcony and succulents in a balcony setting. Add to the places in subtitle terrace, rooftop, window box, hanging basket, and any other conceivable growing place that comes to mind and you begin to appreciate the scope of this book. A five and a half page index increases your chances of finding answers to specific questions.

The Unexpected Houseplant: 220 Extraordinary Choices for Every Spot in Your Home is exactly what the subtitle proclaims. Jovah Martin's 2012 publication by Timber Press features beautiful photographs by Kindra Clineff that prove some unlikely indoor plants can flourish inside your house. Major sections are Autumn, Winter, Spring, and Summer. "Love Thwarted" deals with those plants Martin could not successfully manage in her home. She dutifully gives the facts about what problems she encountered with each. The last section holds The "Basics" about growing any plants indoors. Throughout the book concise lists give attributes and requirements of many species. Few double pages go without a photograph with a description in the accompanying text. Caution is given about toxicity in many plants. "Suggestions for Further Reading" and an index appear at the end of the book.

A journal-like record with many helpful hints along the way is Gardening for a Lifetime: How to Garden Wiser As You Grow Older by Sydney Eddison ,Timber Press (2011). By naming the best plants for certain areas, Eddison offers hope to those in gardening who feel overwhelmed when a garden begins to get out of hand. She never finds that cutting back is easy, but her advice reveals her experiences that have made her an outstanding gardener. Beginning with the perennial garden, she guides the reader to make changes like substituting shrubs and converting a shady border where maintenance has become a problem. Continuing this format, chapters on woodlands, forests, new gardens, and containers flow into advice on making lists, enlisting help, accepting imperfection, and learning from experience. In the small section "New Ways to Garden", she explores bonsai. Ending each section, her "Gleanings" highlight major points and procedures. This comfortable-to-hold paperback provides welcome solutions to gardeners who recognize the need for change but don't want to sacrifice years of building a totally pleasing garden. Seven pages of index provide names for easy reference.

Catherine Horwood explains her love of gardening in Women and Their Gardens: A History from the Elizabethan Era to Today, Ball Publishing (2010). Having the lowliest jobs assigned to them was common in all types of work, but sometimes unhappy situations motivated them to improve the surrounding landscape and thereby helped them through difficulties. One example was Henrietta, Lady Luxborough, whose husband banished her to Warwickshire with no access to children, money, or friends. Gardening became her passion; her fame grew from being the first person to use the simple but explicit term "shrubbery". The research has brought out names of many women whose talents earned them a place in gardening history. An extensive bibliography aids the reader in researching specific topics. The detailed index and notes add further assistance.

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