Spring is one of the big seasons for releasing garden books, and a pile of them have landed on my desk recently. Some will be reviewed in Northern Gardener, but we have room for only one review per issue, so I thought I’d review a few here as I wait for the snow to melt (happening rapidly!) and the ground to dry out.
Joe Lamp’l, who runs the joegardener web site and hosts the PBS series GardenSmart and the DIY network’s Fresh from the Garden show, has written a very useful book called The Green Gardener’s Guide. While I’ve never seen Lamp’l on TV, I like his approach to presenting “simple significant actions to protect and preserve our planet.” The book is divided into eight sections, each focusing on one area of action that gardeners can take: Conserving water, reducing chemical use, controlling runoff, composting, reducing energy use in the garden, building a healthy eco-system and educating others. Within each section are simple activities that gardeners can do to improve the environment, everything from planting tall trees and vines to help cool your house to using fewer plastic pots. Each suggestion is explained in a 1-3 page blurb, which makes it easy to pop in and out of the book as you are planning garden activities. The book has no illustrations and is printed on plain, recycled paper, but has a clear, easy-to-read format with lots of pull out boxes. If you’d like a taste of Lamp’l’s advice, hop over to his blog and read his post of the five highest impact activities green gardeners can undertake.
Now for something completely different: Check out Simply Elegant Flowers with Michael George. This is a coffee table book, full of beautifully composed full-color photographs. George, who frequently appeared on Martha Stewart’s programs, is noted for his single-species, highly geometric floral arrangements. The book is part biography (George comes from a floral family and has worked with many celebrities), part how-to manual, part guide to flowers that look good in arrangements. At $30, it’s a bit pricey, but a fun book to page through.
Firefly Books recently sent Time-Saving Gardener: Tips and Essential Tasks, Season by Season by Carolyn Hutchinson. I like this book because it tells me what to do when, from pruning shrubs in the spring (a good task for this weekend) to clean pots and tools in late fall. Each of the tasks Henderson suggests comes with a rating of how important it is (from three !!! for vital to one ! for nice, but not essential) as well as an estimate of how long the task will take. A persistent gardening problem for many people is under-estimating how long jobs will take, and even when I double what I initially figure it will take, I’m usually off. The book is nicely illustrated with photographs and drawings. I usually donate the freebie gardening books I get to the Northfield Public Library, but this one is a keeper.