matthew meadMatthew Mead applies his trademark approach – deceptively simple, surprisingly affordable, and always stylish DIY – to the great outdoors in Matthew Mead’s Backyard Style.

With step-by-step photos clearly illustrating how easy it is to create a shady nook with sail cloth, or an elegant alfresco dining room with flea market finds, Matthew bring his styling tricks of the trade to readers, showing them how to make their own spaces magazine-worthy. Creative as always, Matthew suggests painting old furniture with chalk paint – what’s more outdoorsy than that? He gives tips on how to throw the perfect fire pit pizza party, as always accompanied by incredible photos, and he’ll walk readers through how to make a charming evening light lantern.

From small projects to large ones, Matthew offers ingenious suggestions on how to optimize anyone’s backyard space, making it both easy and fun, but most of all inspiring. (description from publisher)

After the winter we’ve had – are still having! – it’s hard to believe that it’s actually, finally spring but as of yesterday, it’s true. And spring means it’s time to start planning your garden and flower beds – it’ll be green again before you know it. Really! Here are some of our latest books to inspire you.

plantifulPlantiful: start small, grow big with 150 plants that spread, self-sow and overwinter by Kristin Green –  Plantiful shows you how to have an easy, gorgeous garden packed with plants by simply making the right choices. Kristen Green highlights plants that help a garden quickly grow by self-sowing and spreading and teaches you how to expand the garden and extend the life of a plant by overwintering. Discover the perfect the art of editing, share the wealth, and learn for yourself that gardeners don’t have to dig deep to grow a lively, plentiful, and colorful garden year-round.

grow more with lessGrow More with Less by Vincent Simeone – Put your best foot forward in creating an efficient, sustainable home landscape. From composting and mulching to planting trees, author Vincent Simeone covers all the eco-friendly essentials in one straightforward handbook. Simeone makes the what, how, and why of sustainable gardening unmistakably clear: why we should plant for the long-term, how to make the best plant selections possible, how to manage invasive species, how to make the most of your lawn (regardless of its size), the importance of IPM (integrated pest management) in fighting insects and pests, how to conserve water with proper irrigation, installing rain barrels and cisterns, and more.

wildlife friendlyThe Wildlife Friendly Vegetable Gardener  by Tammi Hartung – This one-of-a-kind book shows you how to create a peaceful co-existence between your vegetable garden and the wildlife who consider it part of their habitat. By understanding and working with the surrounding environment – instead of continually fighting it – you’ll reap a larger harvest with much less stress and effort. Tammi Hartung explains how to start with a hardy and healthy garden, create beneficial relationships through smart planting, attract helpful insects and pollinators, intentionally create habitats for wildlife, and much more.

attracting beneficial bugsAttracting Beneficial Bugs to Your Garden by Jessica Walliser – It may seem counterintuitive to want bugs in a garden, but insects are indeed valuable garden companions. Especially those species known for eating the bugs that eat plants. Assassin bugs, damsel bugs, and predatory stink bugs are all carnivores that devour the bugs that dine on a garden. This complete, hands-on guide is for anyone looking for a new, natural, and sustainable way to control pests.

beatrix potterThere aren’t many books more beloved than The Tale of Peter Rabbit and even fewer authors as iconic as Beatrix Potter. More than 150 million copies of her books have sold worldwide and interest in her work and life remains high. And her characters – Peter Rabbit, Jemima Puddle Duck, and all the rest – exist in a charmed world filled with flowers and gardens.

Beatrix Potter’s Gardening Life is the first book to explore the origins of Beatrix Potter’s love of gardening and plants and show how this passion came to be reflected in her work. The book begins with a gardener’s biography, highlighting the key moments and places throughout her life that helped define her, including her home Hill Top Farm in England’s Lake District. Next, the reader follows Beatrix Potter through a year, with a season-by-season overview of what is blooming that bring her gardens alive. The book culminates in a traveler’s guide, with information on how and where to visit Potter’s gardens today. Richly illustrated and filled with quotations from her books, letters, and journals, it is essential reading for all who know and cherish Beatrix Potter’s classic tales. (description from publisher)

four season farmBarbara Damrosch and Eliot Coleman are America’s foremost organic gardeners and authorities. Barbara is the author of The Garden Primer, and Eliot wrote the bible for organic gardening, The New Organic Grower. Today they are the face of the locavore movement, working through their extraordinary Four Season Farm in Maine. And now they’ve written the book on how to grow what you eat, and cook what you grow.

The Four Season Farm Gardener’s Cookbook is two books in one. It’s a complete four-season cookbook with 120 recipes from Barbara, a master cook as well as master gardener, who shows how to maximize the fruits – and vegetables – of your labors, from Stuffed Squash Blossom Fritters to Red Thai Curry with Fall Vegetables to Hazelnut Torte with Summer Berries. And it’s a step-by-step garden guide that works no matter how big or small your plot, with easy-to-follow instructions and plans for different gardens. It covers size of the garden, nourishing the soil, planning ahead, and the importance of rotating crops. And, at the core, individual instructions on the crops, from the hardy and healthful cabbage family to fourteen essential culinary herbs.

Eating doesn’t get any more local than your own backyard. (description from publisher)

an amish gardenAn Amish Garden: A Year in the Life of an Amish Garden by Laura Anne Lapp takes you to six working Amish gardens, from January through December. Matchless photos show the garden asleep, the Amish women putting together their orders for seeds, the preparation of the soil, parents and children planting, the emerging plants, the lush harvest, the food being preserved.

This close-up of a world seldom seen shows how the seasons and Amish life work rhythmically together. Laura Anne Lapp lives with her husband and three young sons in a tucked-away valley in Pennsylvania. Gardening is simply the highpoint of her year.

Step apart and enter this pastoral world of hard work, sturdy families, the freshest of flowers and produce, all in harmony with the seasons. (description from publisher)

kiss my asterWho cares what the neighbors think? Kiss My Aster is a hilarious, irreverent, interactive guide to designing an outdoor space that is exactly what you want.

Combining entertaining illustrations with laugh-out-loud text, Amanda Thomsen lays out the many options for home landscaping and invites you to make the choices. Whether you want privacy hedges, elegant flower beds, a patio for partying, a food garden, a kids’ play space, a pond full of ducks, or all of the above, you’ll end up with a yard you’ll adore.

Forget about doing it the “right” way: Do it your way! (description from publisher)

Were Thomas Jefferson to walk the grounds of Monticello today, he would no doubt feel fully at home in the 1,000-foot terraced vegetable garden where the very vegetables and herbs he favored are thriving.

Extensively and painstakingly restored, Jefferson’s unique vegetable garden now boasts the same medley of plants he enthusiastically cultivated in the early nineteenth century. The garden is a living expression of Jefferson’s genius and his distinctly American attitudes. Its impact on the culinary, garden, and landscape history of the United States continues to the present day.

Graced with nearly 200 full-color illustrations, A Rich Spot of Earth is the first book devoted to all aspects of the Monticello vegetable garden. Hatch guides us from the asparagus and artichokes first planted in 1770 through the horticultural experiments of Jefferson’s retirement years (1809-1826). The author explores topics ranging from labor in the garden, garden pests of the time, and seed saving practices to contemporary African American gardens. He also discusses Jefferson’s favorite vegetables and the hundreds of varieties he grew, the half-Virginian half-French cuisine he developed, and the gardening traditions he adapted from many other countries. (description from publisher)

In Natural Companions, acclaimed garden writer Ken Druse presents recipes for perfect plant pairings using diverse species that look great together and bloom at the same time.

Organized by theme within seasons, topics include color, fragrance, foliage, grasses, edible flowers and much more, all presented in photographs of gardens that show planted combinations from a wide variety of climates and conditions. Natural Companions also features more than one hundred special botanical images of amazing depth and color created in collaboration with artist Ellen Hoverkamp using modern digital technology.

Filled with an incredible amount of horticultural guidance, useful plant recommendations, and gardening lore–all written in Druse’s charming, witty style–this book is a must-have for gardeners and lovers of plants and flowers. (description from publisher)

In April 2009, First Lady Michelle Obama planted a kitchen garden on the White House’s South Lawn.  As fresh vegetables, fruit, and herbs sprouted from the ground, this White House Kitchen Garden inspired a new conversation all across the country about the food we feed our families and the impact it has on the health and well-being of our children.

Now, in American Grown, Mrs. Obama invites you inside the White House Kitchen Garden and shares its inspiring story, from the first planting to the latest harvest.  Hear about her worries as a novice gardener – would the new plants even grow? Learn about her struggles and her joys as lettuce, corn, tomatoes, collards and kale, sweet potatoes and rhubarb flourished in the freshly tilled soil.  Get an unprecedented behind-the-scenes look at every season of the garden’s growth, with striking original photographs that bring its story to life.  Try the unique recipes created by White House chefs and made with ingredients just picked from the White House garden.  And learn from the White House Garden team about how you can help plant your own backyard, school or community garden.

Mrs. Obama’s journey continues across the nation as she shares the stories of other gardens that have moved and inspired her: Houston office workers who make the sidewalk bloom; a New York City School that created a scented garden for the visually impaired; a North Carolina garden that devotes its entire harvest to those in need;Davenport Iowa as “Playful City USA” using a decommissioned firetruck to visit parks throughout the city to encourage outdoor play as well as other stories of communities that are transforming the lives and health of their citizens.

In American Grown, Mrs. Obama tells the story of the White House Kitchen Garden, celebrates the bounty of gardens across our nation, and reminds us all of what we can grow together. (description from publisher)

Sunday is Earth Day – here are some new books at the library that will help you practice earth-saving techniques, have some fun and beautify your space.

Beautiful No Mow Yards : More than 50 Amazing Lawn Alternatives by Evelyn Hadden provides plenty of design ideas for meadows and prairies, patios and play areas, ponds, xeric and rain gardens, and edible gardens, to name a few options including specific plant recommendations as well as guidance for converting lawn to garden

Creating Rain Gardens : Capturing Rain for Your Own Water Efficient Garden by Cleo Woelfe-Erskine – Homeowners spend hundreds of dollars watering their yard, but there is an easy way to save money and resources. Rain gardening is as simple as collecting rain to reuse in your yard. This is a comprehensive book for the DIY-er, covering everything from rain barrels to simple living roofs, permeable patios, and other low-tech affordable ways to save water in the garden.

Handmade Garden Projects : Step-by-Step Instructions for Creative Garden Features, Containers, Lighting and More by Lorene Forkner – Part eco-friendly non-traditional, part crafty creative, this book will show you how you can transform your garden into a handmade, personality-infused oasis.

Small Space Container Gardens : Transform your Balcony, Porch or Patio with Fruits, Flowers, Foliage and Herbs by Fern Richardson – This colorful volume on gardening in small spaces provides practical information on creating vibrant plantings in containers and getting the most out of small patios, balconies, and limited space yards.