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Archive for the ‘Garden Books’ Category

In winter, gray days seem grayer and dark nights darker, so like a lot of gardeners, I depend on gardening magazines to bring some sunshine into my life.

Gardening magazine subscriptions make great gifts for the loves and buds on your gift list who dig in the dirt. You won’t have to worry about sizes and they continue to give throughout the year. Here’s a list of my faves:

Organic Gardening

Winner of Garden Writers Association Best Magazine award for 2009. Provides the advice, tools and inspiration to create beautiful, sustainable sanctuaries for all creatures great and small. (800) 666-2206, www.organicgardening.com; $23.94/12 issues; 2 years for the price of one.

The American Gardener

Subscription includes membership in the American Horticultural Society and lots of bennies, including a gardeners’ information service, free seed exchange, book discounts and free or discounted admission to 150 botanical gardens, flower shows and programs. This top-notch general gardening mag touts environmentally friendly practices and is considered a must-read by plantaholics. (800) 777-7931, www.ahs.org; $35/6 issues.

Fine Gardening

Geared to avid gardeners and inspired beginners, and long considered a must-read for those who take their gardening seriously. There’s a handy pronunciation guide for featured plants. Photos that inspire are a godsend in winter. (800) 888-8286, www.taunton.com; $29.95/6 issues.

The American Rose

AR features everything you wanted to know about growing roses and more. A subscription comes with a membership in the American Rose Society, along with the American Rose Annual, “Handbook For Selecting Roses,” technical support from local ARS consulting rosarians, a buyer’s guide, discounts and more. (800) 637-6534, www.ars.org; $49/5 issues. Includes a free copy of Ortho’s “All About Roses.”

Garden Gate

Geared to both new and experienced gardeners. No advertising. Heavily illustrated how-tos leave little to the imagination. (800) 978-9631, www.gardengatemagazine.com; $20/6 issues.

The Michigan Gardener

Metro Detroit’s monthly magazine includes a monthly to-do list, along with articles written by local gardening experts. Though it’s distributed free at many garden centers in the metro area, a subscription assures you never miss an issue. The listing of Metro Detroit garden centers and the handy locator map are priceless. (248) 594-5563, www.michigangardener.com; $16/8 issues.

Bird Watcher’s Digest

A bird lover’s bible offering tips on feeding, bird ID, gardening and more. (800) 879-2473, www.birdwatchersdigest.com, holiday half-price special $10 /6 issues. What a deal!

Country Gardens

A general interest mag with lots of photos, it’s great for inspiration. Lots of how-tos and DIY projects. $ 19.95/4 issues and 2-year half-price deal online only at www.countrygardens.com.


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Magazines and Newspapers in the past few years have been forced to cut back on their gardening sections.  I feel the increased use of the Internet is one of the problems.

There are well more than 50 garden-related Web sites out there including our www.yardener.com. More than 50 lawn and garden businesses have Web sites with extensive gardening information, at least related to their product line. And then there are the forums and the blogs. I know of at least 20 active garden related forums and I’ve read that the number of gardening blogs exceeds 150. All those sites on the Internet represent an incredible amount of gardening and yard care information increasing every day and it is all free for the most part.

You can be sure that life partner Nancy Szerlag and I are paying quite a bit of attention to this phenomenon. We are taking a somewhat new approach in running our information business.

Both of us, hopefully, will continue to write our two columns a week for the Detroit News Homestyle section. While the recent columns are archived on the Detroit News Web site, www.detnews.com/homestyle, within a few months they are no longer easily available.

So we have set up a new blog called Nancy’s Garden Blog (https://nancysgarden.wordpress.com). Each week, we will post last week’s gardening and yardening columns. You can keep up with our weekly words of wisdom even if you are in Seattle. Our columns can now be retrieved for years. However, there is a twist that we feel makes our blog even more valuable.

In virtually every post on our blog we will link that post to additional information on the same topic found in our Web site, www.yardener.com. We have more than 3,500 pages of detailed plant care, gardening, lawn care and landscape care information on that Web site. Most of the files in the Web site have links to the manufacturers of any tool or product that is discussed in that file giving the reader further information on their topic of interest.

We hope you all will find this method of communicating gardening information useful. Now we have to figure out Facebook and Twitter.

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With only a few weeks left before Santa rides it’s time to peruse that Christmas list and for the loves and buds who dig in the dirt, subscriptions to gardening magazines are welcome gifts that keep on giving through out the year.

Here’s a list of my faves you’ll find stacked on my coffee table.

Fine Gardening: A general interest magazine geared to avid gardeners and inspired beginners, long considered a must read for those who take their gardening seriously. There’s a handy pronunciation guide for featured plants.  Articles provide hands on advice and inspiration on garden design, intriguing plants, reliable techniques and practical landscaping projects. (800) 888-8286 www.taunton.com, $29.95/6 issues.

Horticulture: Ranks along side Fine Gardening as a required handbook for hort heads of all skill levels.  Recent changes in editorial staff may mean big changes in the coming months.  Subscribers get a discount on tickets for the annual Cranbrook / Horticulture symposium held in February (877) 860-9146,  www.hortmag.com.  $28/7 issues.

The American Gardener: Ranked right up there with Horticulture and Fine Gardening, a subscription includes membership in the American Horticultural Society and lots of bennies, including a gardeners’ information service, a free seed exchange, book discounts and free or discounted admission to 150 botanical gardens, flower shows and programs.  This top-notch general gardening periodical is geared to environmentally friendly issues; (800) 777-7931 www.ahs.org, $35/6 issues.

The American Rose: Available only by subscription, AR features everything you wanted to know about growing roses and more. A subscription includes membership in the American Rose Society, the American Rose Annual; the Handbook For Selecting Roses, technical support from local ARS consulting rosarians, a Buyer’s Guide mail-order source list and manufacturer’s discounts.  That’s a pretty big package for just $37.  New member gift subscriptions receive a $5 discount on the subscription fee and a certificate for a free mini rose bush: (800) 637-6534,www.ars.org, $37/12 issues.

Garden Design: This coffee table garden mag features the gardens of the rich and richer, along with updates on what’s hot in the green market.  The outdoor and indoor gardens are elegant, lovely to look at and reek of money: (800) 513-0848 www.gardendesignmag.com $23.95/6 issues.

Garden Gate: This general interest gardening magazine geared to both the new and experienced gardener carries no advertising to distract green thumbs from the facts.  Heavily illustrated how-tos leave little to the imagination and dirt gardeners love it; (800) 978-9631 www.GardenGateMagazine.com , $20/6 issues.  Best Buy $26/12 issues.

The Michigan Gardener: Metro Detroit’s monthly tab magazine includes a monthly to-do list along with timely articles written by local gardening experts. Though it’s distributed free at many garden centers in the metro area, a subscription assures you never miss an issue.  The listing of metro area garden centers along with a handy locator map is priceless.  [www.michigangardener.com] (248) 594-5563, $16/8 issues.

Water Gardening Folks who water garden or are interested in starting will enjoy this magazine dedicated to ponding.  The magazine’s mission is to educate pond keepers by featuring articles on all facets of the subject from preconstruction planning to the care of fish and plant life;  (800) 308-6157 www.watergardening.com, $24.95/6 issues.

Bird Watcher’s Digest: This little mag is a bird lover’s bible.  BWD offers tips on feeding, bird identification, gardening and more. Learn how to attract birds and care for them when they visit.  (800) 879-2473, www.birdwatchersdigest.com, $19.95/6 issues.   Check out the Christmas special on their website:  buy one subscription and get two gift subscriptions free. What a deal!

Let us know if we missed a good magazine.  We know there are some fine regional magazines but we don’t know much about them.  szerlag@earthlink.net


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Nancy Szerlag

For those who like to get their holiday shopping done early, here are two great gardening books from one of America’s top gardeners.
• “The Well-Tended Perennial Garden: Planting & Pruning Techniques” — the expanded edition, by Tracy DiSabato-Aust (Timber Press, $34) — is number one on my list of must-read gardening books because it takes the mystery out of how to become a first-class perennial gardener. The book details the whys and hows of dead-heading, pinching, cutting back, thinning, dis-budding and dead-leafing with easy-to-understand explanations and illustrations. These are the tasks that strike fear in many folks’ hearts, but DiSabato-Aust empowers the gardener to take control and have at it with confidence.
This A-to-Z encyclopedia of perennial plants that clearly states how to care for each plant is worth its weight in gold to the newbie who feels overwhelmed when spring arrives. It’s a roadmap for almost every plant in the garden.

Book
DiSabato-Aust spent years pruning and dead-heading perennials to see what the effects would be on the plants. Would they re-bloom if dead-headed, and would early pruning delay flowering or improve their growth habit and prevent flopping? Through the process, like any good scholar, the author took copious notes to give an accurate accounting because weather can impact outcomes. The results are this groundbreaking work. The large appendix provides quick access to month-to-month planting and maintenance schedules. There are also lengthy lists to help choose plants that adapt to specific needs of the gardener and location. This book is a real winner.

• “The Well-Designed Mixed Garden: Building Beds and Borders with Trees, Shrubs, Perennials, Annuals and Bulbs” (Timber Press, $24.95) is much more than a book on garden design. DiSabato-Aust includes plant combinations and a directory of garden plants that allows the gardener to select varieties and cultivars of species that meet their needs and thrive.
DiSabato-Aust covers the basic design fundamentals including site evaluation, color theory and maintenance requirements in friendly, easy-to-understand terms. Readers often come away with the “I get it” feeling.
Whether embarking on a D-I-Y project, or enlisting the services of a professional, this book can save time and money and down the road and the reader will end up with a gorgeous garden that is easy to maintain. Now that’s a great gift.
Nancy Szerlag is a master gardener and Metro Detroit free-lance writer. E-mail her at Szerlag @earthlink.net. You can read her previous columns at detnews.com/homestyle.


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