Did I mention I’ve been on a gardening kick lately? Here’s what I’ve been reading. You’ll note aspects of our yard as well as my interests in herbs and organic gardening. Every one of these books included “easy” as a keyword. My ideal garden is one where I do a little work in spring and maybe fall, and then don’t need to do much of anything the rest of the year.
Easy Care Shade Flowers by Patricia A. Taylor Don’t limit yourself to hostas and ferns in the shade! Taylor has some theory, profiles of outstanding public and private shady gardens, and lists of good plants by type (shrub, perennial, annual) and by region (given by regional experts). The only thing I felt was a little short was help planning your own garden.
Beautiful Easy Herbs by Laurence Sombke This is a book that I am still drooling over, even though most herbs want lots of sun, which I don’t have. The author first profiles one hundred easy-care herbs, with growing habits and uses. This was a little disappointing, as he doesn’t include medicinal uses at all. Since this information is easily available elsewhere, though, that’s not such a great loss. Where I really loved the book was the garden plans. He included lots of plans for different herb gardens, including colonial, culinary, tea, Mediterranean, flowering border, and bird and butterfly. Every design included a layout, which plants to buy from seed and which in pots, short descriptions of everything, and a first year and following years care guide. I was absolutely smitten. I’d be out in the garden with a shovel right now if it weren’t for that pesky sun issue.
Ann Lovejoy’s Organic Garden Design School by Ann Lovejoy Organic gardening may be good for the planet, but Lovejoy gets into that only briefly in this comprehensive look at organic garden design. For her, the primary benefits of an organic garden are minimal care, plants that thrive without taking over, and gardens that tie into the surrounding landscapes. The pictures are beautiful, and the descriptions inspiring. The hitch, of course, is the amount of planning and research that goes into making these extremely site-specific gardens – though she give lots of suggestions, they seem mostly geared towards the western U.S. The book leads you through it all, though, concluding with a 30-pages workbook to help figure out what you want and how to get there. If you follow the steps and do the research, you’ll be rewarded with a garden that needs little more than annual compost to keep it beautiful.