Summer is winding down fast; I know this because today is the last day of the West End Fair. Time to review some of the best gardening books I've read this summer. I've picked out four in no particular order: two of them by Lee Miller who blogs at 'A Guide to Northeastern Gardening.' The name of her blog is also the title of her first book. Lee's newest book is Landscape Design Combinations. My third pick is Carol Michel's Potted and Pruned; as many of you know Carol blogs at 'May Dreams Gardens' where she hosts Garden Bloggers' Bloom Day. Finally, I must include Jenny Rose Carey's wonderful book Glorious Shade that I reviewed HERE. I'm illustrating this posting with a few of my fair entries.
|Sunflower got Best of Show|
by Lee Miller
This easy-to-read book has good basic gardening information that is especially useful to the beginning gardener (although as an experienced gardener I learned a few new things.) The book is illustrated with beautiful photographs. The dozen or so chapters cover many aspects of gardening from choosing long-blooming perennials and deer-resistant plants to planting techniques and maintenance tips. My personal favorites are the chapters on planning a butterfly garden, on four-season garden design (I struggle with this as I don't feel I have enough winter-interest in my own garden), and the section on weeping evergreens. I learned how to rejuvenate daylilies and the proper planting technique for trees. I love Lee's use of evergreens in the landscape. The book, like her blog, makes me wish I could tour Lee's gardens in person.
|'Tea time' floor display: top shelf shows baking shortbread; bottom tea tray.|
by Lee Miller
Lee's latest book, Landscape Design Combinations, complements her first as she explains design principles, how to combine color, how to include hardscape elements, and more. She gives step-by-step instructions and provides labelled illustrations. One of my favorite photographs in her first book, A Guide to Northeastern Gardening, is of a raised cottage garden bed that she shows in this second book with the plants labelled, adding much useful information. I learned there is a seedless, non-invasive loosestrife with a stunning color, Lythrum virgatum 'Morder's Gleam.' If only I could find space for it. My favorite chapter is the one on border designs with great ideas that are easy for the beginner gardener to adapt. Another section is on container gardening and I used Lee's tips to make a succulent planter this year. As Lee points out, shrubs and trees are the backbone of the garden and she gives sound advice on using them in the landscape. She is great at showing how to combine trees, shrubs, and perennials. The book has a valuable section on planning. Lee concludes with a little bit of the history of garden design. There is a useful glossary at the end. As with her first publication, I feel this book is most beneficial for newbees although there is something for everyone.
Lee and I have something in common apart from our love of gardening -- a long career in education. While I just 'retired to garden', however, Lee started a whole new career in the horticultural industry and has self-published two books. I admire her so much.
|My shelf displays at the fair|
by Carol J. Michel
Carol's book, Potted and Pruned: Living a Gardening Life, is a must-read for gardeners new and experienced. This collection of 36 essays, reflecting the author's philosophy about gardening, has the ring of truth for all of us. The book is full of the 'seeds of wisdom' with more than a few 'kernels of encouragement.' We are privileged to numerous hilariously funny accounts of her garden experiences: she is Captain HortHero to the rescue of a weedy bed; she uses the word 'frass' as a swear word (frass is insect poop.) I recognize myself frequently as I read -- yes, Carol, I have GADS, too! We get a glimpse into her garden, for example one of my favorite chapters explains how Carol came to name her garden and each part of it. I've done this in my garden but not as cleverly: I call my vegetable garden 'The Kitchen Garden' (original, eh?) while Carol calls hers, with it's raised beds arranged like pews, 'The Vegetable Garden Cathedral'. I love the letters she writes to her favorite T-shirt, to a 'common' daylily, to Summer, and (my favorite) to Drought with a plea for it to leave the garden. In my best-loved part, Carol explains how to use temporary botanical names when you don't know the actual one. This hilarious chapter offers the most useful advice for me as I become more and more forgetful. I'm laughing out loud as I write this, recalling her witty suggestions. I find Carol's book not only hysterically funny but full of charm and true to the real life of a gardener. Her five secrets for happiness are fun to discover.
I met Carol in Pasadena at the GWA conference the year she received an award for her blog. She is a very knowledgeable lady with a horticultural degree from Perdue. She gardens in Indiana where she calls herself a 'gardenangelist.' She is certainly a 'gardener', one we can all identify with, she is an 'angel' with a true appreciation of all that Nature offers, and an 'evangelist' with wise words to new gardeners.
|Some of the vegetables we entered.|
Thank you to the four authors I've mentioned, not least Jenny Rose Carey, for giving me information, making me smile, and adding to the excellence of this summer.
|Grandson Jon baked zucchini bread; I baked scones|
It was an excellent summer culminating in a successful participation in the West End Fair. Jon and I submitted 44 items: perennial flowers, annuals, herbs, vegetables, shelf displays, and a floor display. We were awarded 31 ribbons including 16 first places and three Best of Shows. But the best part of the event was working side-by-side with my wonderful grandson!
|The zucchini bread took a first place, my scones only a third -- Great job, Jon.|
|Young man with his pet hen. (Don't know him.)|
To those bloggers in the northern hemisphere, I hope your summer was as wonderful as mine. We had far too much rain and not enough sun here, but still good. To those of you entering spring in your part of the world, I wish you a successful season.
Our prayers go out to those in the path of Hurricane Harvey.
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