If you’re sitting around pouting, waiting for spring, pop out of that blue funk and get thee to the library or bookstore. Winter is the time to garden in your mind and make plans for spring, and gardening books and magazines are the tools of choice.
Rock Gardens are stunning, but there’s more to the process than just dropping some rocks on the ground and planting away. “Rock Garden Design and Construction” from the North American Rock Garden Society (Timber Press $29.95 www.timberpress.com (800) 327-8650) brings together the expertise of more than 40 experts to help create a truly dramatic habitat. The chapters include important topics such as rock and plant selection, placement, soil preparation and maintenance. Also covered are trough planting, balcony gardening, woodland trail building and water features. Illustrated with more then 100 photos, that are sooo inspirational, by the time you finish this book, you may want to totally replace your lawn. Much of mine will be gone by next fall.
Creating and Planting Garden Troughs by Joyce Fingerut and Murfitt (B.B. Mackey Books, P.O. Box 475, Wayne, PA 19087) is the definitive how-to manual for gardeners who what to make their own containers and create stunning little gardens filled with incredible plants that winter hardy and year-around sensational.
Fingerut walks through trough building process from concept to form building – to concrete mixing – to completion. Larger projects take a bit of time and there are no cutting corners when durability is an issue.
Alpine gardening authority Rex Murfitt provides excellent planting instructions and a large plant lexicon to choose from. Sample landscaping and planting plans along with hundreds of photographs and drawings educate as well as inspire.
My large bowl shaped hypertufa container formed on a commercial size salad bowl has spent a decade in the garden and is none the worse for wear.
Ah, how can one pout with so many projects to complete before planting time in spring.
The Orchid in Lore and Legend by Luidi Berliocchi (Timber Press soft-cover $19.95 www.timberpress.com, 800-327-5680) is a must read for anyone who has more than a passing interest in orchids. This facinating treasure trove of prose combines the magic, the history, the botany, the folklore, and the medicinal values along with the culture of this exotic plant family.
According to Berliocchi, it was Confucius, who first celebrated the orchid in his writings sometime between 551 and 479 B. C. In Japan the orchid began it’s rise to popularity with the ancient tale of an emperor’s wife who, remained childless for years and then gave birth to thirteen children after deeply inhaling the inebriating perfume of the orchid Cymbidium ensifolium.
It was not until the second half of the eighteenth century that orchids entered the Western consciousness, but by the 19th century the passion for them erupted into full-blown orchid mania. The fabulous glass houses, the Victorian conservatoires, found in England and North America were constructed to house the vast collections that were collected on worldwide expeditions.
Many orchids are surprisingly easy to grow. My partner, Jeff Ball has a white Phalaenopsis thriving in the east window at the front of his desk. Care consists of running the bark-filled container under the water tap every three days or so. The blossoms, currently in large bud stage, will remain in bloom up to 4 months. That makes the twice a week trip to the sink well worth the effort.
A copy of The Orchid in Lore and Legend and a Phalaenopsis orchid would make a great Valentine gift for the plant lover in your life.
Super Seed Catalog
If like me, you have mourned the passing of the Shepard seed catalog that was filled with yummy recipes and gardening tips as well as a cacophony of wonderful veggie seeds, weep no more. The John Sheepers Kitchen Garden Seed catalog (860) 567- 6086 www.kitchengardenseeds.com, looks and reads like an almost exact copy of right down to the line art.
The good gardening tips come from Vermont veggie and garden maven Barbara Demrosh. The recipes are harvested from great restaurants and 4-star chefs. Featured dishes include zesty Radicchio Salad with Parmesan-Balsamic Vinaigrette from Napa Valley’s Terra Restaurant and Baked Penne Pasta with Lobster from Carole Peck’s Good News Café, Woodbury, Connecticut.
Scheepers’ large selection of seeds includes Asian and Italian greens and fun stuff like white carrots, lime-green eggplant and other delightful veggies that are easy to grow and great to eat.
Local Pottery Maven Featured in Fine Gardening Magazine.
Pottery maven Julia Janiak, garden center manager at Goldner Walsh Nursery in Pontiac has an excellent article on choosing terra cotta in the January issue of Fine Gardening magazine (www.finegardening.com). Here you will learn to tell the difference between machine made and hand made pots and how and why to avoid purchasing lesser pieces.
Plans for Easy-to-Make Trellis
The premier edition of Backyard Living magazine (Reiman Media Group (800) 344-6913) includes plans for an elegant six- foot tall wood and copper trellis that is perfect for growing climbing plants. The project is well illustrated with photos and line drawings and the plans are crystal clear, including tips to ease assembly and avoid pitfalls.