With spring fast approaching, this is a good time to catch up on some
practical and fun how-to advice from garden experts. Here’s my look at
five new garden books.
Home Outside: Creating the Landscape You Love
Julie Moir Messervy (Taunton Press)
As the author notes, most of us have the confidence to improve the
inside of our homes with a fresh coat of paint, new rugs, furniture
and fixtures. But when it comes to the outside of our most prized
possession, we don’t know where to start.
In “Home Outside” landscape designer Messervy provides an intuitive,
easy-to-follow guide that demystifies the art and practice of
landscape design. Divided into sections such as Comfort Zones, Making
It Flow, Placing the Pieces and Sensory Pleasures, the book combines
no-nonsense text, excellent color photos and diagrams and plans.
Messervy says that she wants to get people back outside onto their
land by helping them realize the pleasure that’s involved in being out
If you gaze at your yard and wish it looked better but don’t know
where to start, “Home Outside” could be the book to get you off the
dime and fired up with ideas from the modest to the grandiose. Have a
pad of those sticky yellow notes handy. You’ll probably want to
bookmark a lot of pages in this, one of the year’s best landscape
design books for both homeowners and design pro’s.
Neil Soderstrom (Rodale Books)
If you’re one of the thousands of homeowners in the depths of despair
and depression due to finding your lovingly cared-for plants reduced
to stubble by hungry deer, this is a must-have book for you.
Suburban sprawl has created an ideal habitat for wildlife, free from
most natural predators and off-limits to hunters. For lovers of
wildlife, this can be a joy, but the joy can be short lived when deer
see your landscape as an all-they-can-eat buffet.
In this book, Soderstrom tells you what works, what doesn’t and why,
based on the latest scientific research, advice of landscape and
wildlife-control professionals, all without resorting to poisons or
Not just deer, by the way, but also twenty other “pesky” mammals from
bears, beavers and chipmunks to moles, mice, rabbits and voles.
Perhaps best of all, Soderstom lists, describes and depicts more than
1,000 plants that are resistant to deer and other wildlife.
William Cullina (HMH)
Cullina has created a visually beautiful guide to working with
perennials and, most importantly, helping them flourish. Rather than
coming up with yet another plant encyclopedia, Cullina offers what he
describes as the “psychology” of perennials: their needs, wants and
Starting with the basics, such as the difference between bulbs, corms
and tubers, the book literally takes perennials from the ground up,
with sections on roots, leaves, stems, flowers and seeds. There’s also
a handy reference section on pests and diseases that attack perennials
and how to control them.
Perennials are the basis of virtually every garden and Cullina’s book
deserves a place on the shelf of every gardener wishing to bring out
the best in their plants.
Rodale’s Ultimate Encyclopedia of Organic Gardening
Edited by Fern Marshall Bradley et al (Rodale Books)
Unlike Cullina’s book, this one really IS an encyclopedia, and at
around two inches thick, quite a hefty one! This edition, newly
revised and updated for 2009, must be the most up-to-date and complete
resource on the subject of organic gardening.
After 50 years it is still the go-to reference for both novices and
seasoned organic gardeners. If you’re intrigued by the idea of
applying organic methods to fruit and vegetable crops, herbs, trees
and shrubs, perennials, annuals and lawns, here’s where you’ll find in-
depth information on earth-friendly techniques, using water wisely,
managing invasive plants and more.
Kitchen Garden Box: Save and Sow Seeds of Your Favorite Vegetables
Mike McGrath (Quirk)
Organized on cards in a sturdy flip-top box, this fun little package
shows gardeners how to collect, store, use and replant seeds of their
favorite tried-and-true veggies.
In addition to handy cards with step-by-step instructions, growing
tips and recipes, the kit includes ten seed storage envelopes and
coupons for two free seed packets. A fun gift for a friend or for
yourself, Kitchen Garden Box is scheduled for publication in April
The Plant Man is here to help. Send your questions about trees, shrubs
and landscaping to firstname.lastname@example.org and for resources and
additional information, or to subscribe to Steve’s free e-mailed
newsletter, visit www.landsteward.org