groundbreaking food gardensVegetable gardens can be designed for flavor AND fun! Niki Jabbour has collected 73 plans for novel and inspiring food gardens from her favorite superstar gardeners, in Groundbreaking Food Gardens. You’ll find a garden that provides salad greens 52 weeks a year, another that supplies your favorite cocktail ingredients, one that you plant on a balcony, one that encourages pollinators, one that grows 24 kinds of chile peppers, and dozens more.

Each plan is fully illustrated and includes a profile of the contributor, the story behind the design, and a plant list. (description from publisher)

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)

The long awaited season has arrived – time to leave the snow shovel in the shed (fingers crossed) and start thinking about green and growing things. Here’s a selection of some of our newest gardening books.

beautiful edible gardenBeautiful Edible Garden by Leslie Bennett shows how to not only grow organic fruits and vegetables, but also make your garden a place of year-round beauty that is appealing, enjoyable, and fits your personal style. Artfully blending edibles and ornamentals together, this book demonstrates that it’s possible for gardeners of all levels to reap the best of both worlds.

 

 

lawn goneLawn Gone by Pam Penick – A colorful guide covering the basics of replacing a traditional lawn with a wide variety of easy-care, no-mow, drought-tolerant, money-saving options that will appeal to today’s busy, eco-conscious homeowner.

 

 

 

speedy vegetable gardenSpeedy Vegetable Garden by Mark Diacono explains how to sow, grow, and harvest soaks and sprouts, micro greens, edible flowers, salad leaves, and quick-harvest vegetables, as well as recipes that use them.

 

 

 

everyday rosesEveryday Roses by Paul Zimmerman debunks common rose myths and outdated care instructions, and instead imparts practical rose care advice in a fun and accessible voice. Readers will find helpful suggestions for choosing roses based on landscape need, tips on what to look for when buying roses, new techniques for the best way to plant roses, and sensible time-saving methods to maintain their roses throughout the year.

 

plantingPlanting: a New Perspective on Combining Plants by Piet Oudolf explains how plants behave in different situations, what goes on underground, and which species make good neighbors. Planting is an essential resource for designers and gardeners looking to create plant-rich, beautiful gardens that support biodiversity and nourish the human spirit.

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.

Spring arrived officially last night at 6:21pm and after the winter (and snowfall) we’ve been through this year, it didn’t come a minute too soon. OK, this is Iowa, we can’t just pull a switch and have green grass and blooming flowers again, but they’re on their way. And that means it’s just about time to get out into the garden again! That’s where the library comes in – here’s a selection of some of our newly arrived gardening books, guaranteed to spark your imagination and help you plan your best garden yet!

The Kitchen Gardener’s Handbook by Jennifer Bartley – This book has it all – design plans, seasonal checklists, recipes, information on plants, growing tips, even flowers for the table. Bright and colorful.

City Farmer : Adventures in Urban Food Growing by Lorraine Johnson – A series of thoughtful essays on the growing popularity of urban food production from homeowners growing tomatoes in the front yard to guerrilla gardeners taking over abandoned city lots.

The Vegetable Gardener’s Container Bible : How to Grow a Bounty of Food in Pots, Tubs and other Containers by Edward Smith – Discover how easy it is to grow a backyard garden even without a backyard.

Growing at the Speed of Life: A Year in the Life of My First Kitchen Garden by Graham Kerr – Television’s Galloping Gourmet discovers the joy and advantages of growing your own food. Part part cookbook, part gardening book, it’s all lighthearted fun.

 

 

To be  honest, I only planned to skim this book when I picked it up, expecting  that it would be rather dry and academic. Instead Sissinghurst: an Unfinished History by Adam Nicolson turned out to be a fascinating, beautifully written history of a remarkable landscape.

To any gardener worth their compost, the name Sissinghurst is instantly recognizable as the site of one of the most beloved gardens in England. It’s gardens, especially the famous White Garden, continue to influence and inspire gardeners today, 70 years after it was created. Sissinghurst was also the home of one of Englands most famous literary couples (and the creators of the gardens), Harold Nicolson and Vita Sackville-West. Now owned and managed by the National Trust, Adam Nicolson (Harold and Vita’s grandson) wished to bring the land surrounding the castle and gardens back to their earlier incarnation as a working farm with all that that involved – an integrated system of meadows, grain, crops, fruit, vegetables and livestock as well as managed woodlands. It was a landscape that encouraged diversity, sheltered wildlife and sustained a strong community.

Nicolson covers the wide-ranging history of the estate, how the land shaped the people that lived there and how people shaped the land. Nicolson’s proposal to return parts of Sissinghurst to farm initially met with resistence that surprised him and had to be addressed. Through it all, his fond memories of growing up on the estate beautifully illustrate both the beauty of and his love for the land, it’s history and it’s people.

victory-gardenSearching for fresh, healthy food for your family? Concerned about recent salmonella outbreaks in the food supply? Looking for ways to reduce pollution, cut your dependence on mass-produced food, create a sense of community, save on grocery bills? And oh yeah, looking for food that tastes great? The answer might be right in your backyard.

Popular during World War I and again during World War II, private citizens in the United States, Canada and England were encouraged to grow their own vegetables in an effort to reduce pressure on the public food supply caused by the war effort. These gardens popped up everywhere, including vacant city lots and even the dry moat around the Tower of London; 20 million Americans participated during World War II and by the end of the war provided nearly 40% of the nation’s vegetables. Called Victory Gardens or Liberty Gardens, they were also considered morale boosters, allowing people to feel empowered by their contribution as well as being rewarded by the produce they grew. Doesn’t that sound like something we could use right now?

Home gardens are becoming popular again as people rediscover the joys and advantages of growing their own food. Burpee Seed reports a 40% increase in seed sales in 2008, and expect another increase this year. The city of San Francisco developed a program that provides starter kits and information to help urban gardeners convert part of their backyard (or windowsill) into growing vegetables. Then there is Eat the View, an organization that is asking President Obama to plant an organic Victory Garden on the White House lawn (it wouldn’t be the first time this has been done – Eleanor Roosevelt had one installed during World War II). And Secretary of Agriculture (and former Iowa governor) Tom Vilsack has recently announced that his department would create “The People’s Garden” out of a paved area outside their building.

Not sure how to get started? Don’t worry – the library is here to help. Here’s a list of books that will guide you through those first steps – and encourage you to try something new!

The Garden Primer by Barbara Damrosch – Great practical information, presented in a straightforward, no-nonsense manner. All organic.

The Complete Compost Gardening Guide by Barbara Pleasant – Lots of info on all kinds of composting, including vermiculture (worms) as well as great gardening tips. All organic.

The Farmer’s Wife Guide to Growing a Great Garden by Barbara Doyen – As well as how to grow, Doyen has information on harvesting, storing and cooking your produce.

Rodale’s Vegetable Garden Problem Solver by Fern Bradley – No problem is insurmountable – this book will show you all kinds of solutions. All organic.

Deer Proofing Your Yard and Garden by Rhonda Hart – Keeping those lovely creatures at bay.

Animal, Vegetable, Miracle by Barbara Kingsolver – Provocative and thoughtful examination of what it takes to eat locally.

landscaping-with-fruitThe next time you’re thinking about adding a tree or bush to your landscape, consider one that bears fruit. Most are just as beautiful as “ornamental” trees and they have the added bonus of rewarding you with fresh, delicious fruit!

Lee Reich, well known in gardening circles for his excellent The Pruning Book, now brings us Landscaping with Fruit.  He’s gone through all the varieties and types of fruiting plants available and compiled a list of the best – best for beauty, ease of maintenance and tasty fruit. Only plants that meet all three requirements are included. Among others you’ll find sweet cherry, raspberries, grapes and apples as well as exotic tropicals that can be grown in pots. You’ll find that alpine strawberries make excellent edging plants and blueberries make beautiful shrubs year round.

In addition to information on plant varieties, Reich has an excellent section on growing and maintaining, and lots of ideas on how to incorporate these plants in your yard (so it doesn’t look like you’ve plopped an orchard down in your front yard) What about an alle of pear trees along your front walk? Or a hedge of strawberries, Nanking cherry and red current? Or try surrounding a patio with huckleberry, blueberry and Juneberries. The possibilities are endless – and delicious!