I have had extra time to enjoy some garden-related reading lately. This is partly because NOTHING is happening in my still-frozen garden, and partly because I've been passing kidney stones and feeling too lousy to do much else. Housework has been procrastinated and children mildly neglected (why don't you make your own PB&J sandwich, dear, as I've only got 10 pages left in this chapter). Here are reviews and some take-home messages gathered from the books. They're all available from amazon.com (click on the book cover to get there), though I just borrowed them from my local library.
Design in the Plant Collector's Garden by Roger Turner
After reading Turner's philosophical first chapter on plant enthusiasts, I had the sneaking suspicion that he had read my mind. He beautifully captures the way I feel about plants and my garden. He also describes the pitfalls that come when plant enthusiasts try to mold their collections into gardens. His best piece of advice: look up from the plants and see the garden! With numerous practical ideas for creating a lovely garden-as-a-whole instead of just a plant museum, this book will be helpful to any gardener with plant-collecting tendencies.
Paths of Desire by Dominique Browning
My husband would not have enjoyed this book, but I did. Browning writes in a wistful tone about the bittersweet experiences of life and gardening on her suburban plot. Her narrative definitely appealed to my feminine sensibilities. Sometimes life is sad, sometimes the garden goes awry, but we press forward and find joy where we can. This is a good read for a grey day, preferably with a crackling fire nearby and a cozy blanket over top.
Beautiful Madness by James Dodson
I sped through this book like I do through a suspenseful novel. Dodson chronicles his year of horticultural exploration and discovery in an enjoyable way that kept me wondering where his adventure would lead next. He convinced me that I definitely need to visit the Philadelphia Flower Show but I definitely don't need to travel to South Africa to search out new plant species. Mostly, I came away feeling relieved that there are plenty of more garden-crazy people out there, so my level of obsession is perfectly acceptable.
The Welcoming Garden by Gordon Hayward
And this was where inspiration struck. Hayward teaches how to create inviting gardens at the front of the home. I was innocently enjoying the pretty pictures and agreeing with his helpful ideas when he suggested that we should walk among our plants and not past them on the way to the front door. Aha! The entry to my home, pictured below (note - the picture was taken just before we moved in, and many of the plants and junk have been replaced since then), is just sad. The giant concrete driveway funnels into a short concrete sidewalk, edged on one side by the garage. I realized that I wanted to walk among my plants instead of past them, so I should rip out my existing sidewalk and swing it out to the left to make bed space on both sides of the walkway. Hubby was mildly supportive of the project, it wouldn't be too awfully expensive, and we should do it before the plants get much larger and harder to transplant. So it might actually get done this fall. We'll move the steps and remove the railing, but will it be too strange if the door isn't directly at the top of the steps? Moving the door would require moving the window and would make a big project, but maybe someday it will happen.