I have been taking great pleasure in cleaning through and reorganizing the wall of gardening books in my office, and pulling some out for giving away. In a careful matchmaking operation, I consider the special interests of various friends and family members against each book to be relinquished.
Lively gardening and garden-related books can bring inspiration and percolate plans for the new gardening season. Here are a few of my own recent acquisitions, for your gift-giving consideration.
Container Gardening For All Seasons, by Barbara Wise (Cool Springs Press, 256 pages, paperback, $23.99). Gardening in containers is quick and easy satisfaction for plant lovers, and here the reader has 101 spring-through-winter "recipes," each with a list of ingredients needed, a diagram to guide each plant's placement and a colour photo of the final planting.
A sampler: "Winter Party" combines variegated holly with red-berried cotoneaster and Sedum 'Angelina.' In autumn, there is "Refined Glory" with red-twigged dogwood, variegated Osmanthus and black mondo grass.
"Hummingbird Magnet" is a summer project with yellow-flowered hibiscus, purple-pink bougainvillea and dark red ivy geranium. Summer also includes a bowl of succulents and "Big Hair Day" with a sago palm, white alyssum and fiery red geraniums.
For spring, "Bring it On!" combines the good luck plant, Cordyline, with coleus peach coral bells and trailing red snapdragon.
For creating your own mixture of plants there are suggestions under the thriller, filler and spiller components of container design. An introductory guide to container gardening highlights 10 commandments. One touches on drainage: "Thou shalt remember your container, and keep it holey." Any Size, Anywhere Edible Gardening, by William Moss (Cool Springs Press, 200 pages, paperback, $23.99).
This practical guide "to generate a bountiful harvest with a small footprint" sets out common sense ground rules: Have fun, don't stress, start small.
The book is filled with ideas for saving space and time. Grow vertical and cascading plants. Create dense plantings in nutrient-rich soil. Use intercropping and succession plantings.
Choose the most productive, easy-growing, space-efficient edibles. Mulch.
A chapter on Veggie All-Stars describes the growing and harvesting of the best small-space and container vegetables from beans and carrots to sweet potatoes and tomatoes. A separate, extensive chapter deals with choosing and cultivating tomatoes.
A descriptive list of Top Ten Edibles for Containers includes mizuna, a lacy Asian green. I've made a note to seed a large container of it next August for tart and tasty greens all winter on the patio.
Herbs: The Complete Gardener's Guide, by Patrick Lima (Firefly Books, 224 pages, paperback, $24.95). This lush, magazine-size book, filled with gorgeous photographs by Turid Forsyth, devotes separate chapters to perennial kitchen herbs, annuals and perennials, leafy herbs, herbs for tea, and more.
Because of their many forms, thyme and sage are given their own chapters, as are the Alliums (chives, shallots, onion, garlic).
"Garden Silverware" celebrates plants with grey foliage, including such beauties as santolina, the artemisias and lamb's ears.
"Uncommon Scents" delves into the considerable delights of old roses, lavender, pinks and scented geraniums.
The book ends on a tasty note with "In the Kitchen" and enticing recipes such as a pureed carrot dip, herb-roasted summer vegetables with pasta, and rosemary garlic lamb chops.
Successful Bonsai, by David Squire (Firefly Books, 160 pages, paperback, $19.95).
The core of this magazine-size guide is an A-to-Z illustrated directory of 80 plants suited for indoor bonsai and 15 classic outdoor bonsai, from maples and bougainvillea to wisteria and Zelkova serrata (Japanese elm).
Each profile has tips on getting started, and on sites and care for the plant.
Introductory sections provide photographed guides to and tips on acquiring and propagating plants, choosing containers, potting, creating different styles and shapes, pruning and repotting.
Successful Bonsai combines visual appeal with meticulous detail to inspire both novice and experienced bonsai practitioners.
Year-Round harvest. Beginning in January at the Horticulture Centre of the Pacific, 505 Quayle Rd. in Saanich, is a 10-session course with Linda Gilkeson on Year-Round Harvest for the Urban Gardener, on one Sunday each month through October. The mild winters of coastal B.C. make it possible to grow and harvest vegetables all year round. See details of the course, and its cost, at hcp.ca/courses.
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