Tuesday, May 8, 2012

Gardening Books!

I am an avid reader of all sorts.  Generally speaking, my leisure time can usually be described by one of a few things:  gardening, swimming, sailing, running, driving my car on curving country roads, or reading--or maybe some combination thereof!  Minus the driving on winding roads.  That could prove dangerous while reading or swimming.  However, I have been known to take random trips around town to admire flowers, trees, etc. (especially in the spring and fall when nature is at it's most photogenic).  Anyway, I digress....

This post is about gardening-related books.  I have an ever-expanding library of books that is threatening to consume my bedroom, a portion of our living room, and one whole wall of our garage.  I am primarily a non-fiction, "real world" kind of guy and this is reflected in my endless bounty of books on the subjects of science and medicine, history, aviation, architecture, gardening, and travel (I especially enjoy "photographic essays" as souvenirs from vacations, visits, and also the places where I have lived or my family members have lived).  But when push comes to shove, few things are as enjoyable and uplifting on a dreary, cloudy day as reading a book about gardening!

What are some of your favorite gardening books?  My birthday is coming up in July and I usually put a few books on my wish list.  Hydrangeas:  Cape Cod and the Islands, which I have waited months for, is in the process of being shipped to my house as I pen this (the weekend cannot come fast enough).  I am fully expecting it to become one of my most cherished possessions.  Here are a few others I am hoping to acquire soon:

I love lavender.  What a great plant to grow and to use!  Lavender is somewhat of a new interest for me and I have become fascinated by its various uses around the house.  Like roses and tulips, lavender is one of the few plants capable of conjuring strong emotion in people who have never grown a single plant in their life.  Thankfully, I am not a member of that camp so I can say lavender conjures even stronger emotion for me since I actually grow it!!!  The fragrance of the plant is simply unequaled.  I stumbled across this book the other day in the library and decided that I must have it.  This book is available from Amazon, Barnes & Noble, and others.  This is one of the pre-eminent lavender texts and should be easy to find.
Now this is quite the book.  In fact, this might be the most comprehensive and overwhelming gardening book I have ever held in my two hands (cough....struggled to hold in my hands--beware if you have weak arm muscles).  I have several varieties of roses, encompassing a few species, but I am not what one might call a "rosarian."  But I aspire to be. Therefore, Botanica's Encyclopedia of Roses makes my wish list.
Edible Landscaping
This is an area of growing interest for me.  Growing plants for food is one of life's finest pleasures, in my opinion.  Few experiences match the satisfaction of biting into a juicy tomato, strawberry, or watermelon that you grew from Day One.  The idea of integrating "edibles" into the overall landscaping presentation is a decidedly foreign-one here in the United States.  The stereotypical edible garden is one that is removed, hidden, and, to use a strong adjective,"sterilized" in its very own corner of the yard.  But the problem is that it isn't a stereotype.  It's an archetype.  One that should really change!  As the cover of this book so lusciously illustrates, a fruit-vegetable-herb garden can not only be highly useful, but also downright alluring from an aesthetic point-of-view.   

Gertrude Jekyll and the Country House Garden: From the Archives of Country Life
Available from Amazon, Barnes & Noble, and others.  Gertrude Jekyll is possibly the most acclaimed English garden designer of the post-Victorian era known today as the "Arts-and-Crafts" movement where houses (and landscapes!) took a turn away from ornate formality towards more "organic" and low-key manifestations.  Isn't that cover tantalizing?  I swear, after hydrangeas, climbing roses are my other Achilles heel.

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