4 books to bring new life to your garden

  • Mary Beth Breckenridge, Akron Beacon Journal
  • Friday, May 23, 2014 12:54pm
  • Life

One of the new garden books that caught our eye is “Hellstrip Gardening,” ($24.95) about that no-man’s land between the curb and the sidewalk.

Author Evelyn J. Hadden has practical suggestions for what to do with that narrow plot beset by foot traffic, exhaust fumes, inconsiderate dog owners, lack of access to water, poor soil and restrictive laws and covenants.

The book also guides readers on designing a garden with minimal upkeep, and offers an entire section on plants that do well in curbside environments.

Here are a few more new titles to add to your library:

Five-Plant Gardens” by Nancy J. Ondra; $18.95

If you’re a beginner to perennial gardening, “Five-Plant Gardens” is for you.

Ondra knows eager novices too often take on more than they can handle, so she created garden plans that are limited in scope to make the gardens more manageable and, she hopes, more successful.

The book contains 52 garden designs, each of which contains just five types of plants. She chose plants that look and grow well together, with enough variety in height, shape and seasonal interest to keep things captivating.

The gardens are divided according to sun requirement, but Ondra further refined her offerings to include gardens for slopes, soggy spots, areas prone to deer damage and other challenges.

For each, she includes a list of plants needed, a garden layout and guidance on caring for the garden throughout the growing season.

“The Know Maintenance* Perennial Garden” by Roy Diblik, $24.95

More experienced perennial gardeners will appreciate “The Know Maintenance* Perennial Garden,” a book based on the premise that knowing your plants helps you care for them more effectively, with less work.

In the book, author Roy Diblik throws some common gardening practices on their ears. He believes gardeners need to understand each plant’s requirements and respond to them only as needed, so the plant thrives without undue fuss.

It’s a holistic approach rather than a set of rules, he says.

He starts with the advice all good gardeners should heed: Assess your site — the sunlight, the soil, the moisture conditions — and then match plants to those conditions. Then he encourages gardeners to get to know each plant and all its parts, as well as how it grows.

Don’t expect to come away from Diblik’s book with a firm grasp on the needs of all your plants. He wants gardeners to learn by observing and doing.

Luckily, though, Diblik makes that work a little easier by recommending dependable plants for northern gardens, along with information about their care.

He also includes planting plans, some of them inspired by works of art or notable gardens such as New York’s High Line.

“Taming Wildflowers” by Miriam Goldberger, $18.95

Native plants are survivors. They can take just about anything nature dishes out, and they can do it without human help, thank you very much.

Yet so often, we tend to think of flowers that grow in the wild as less suitable for our gardens than plants bred for that purpose.

Miriam Goldberger thinks otherwise.

Goldberger, a flower farmer in Ontario, Canada, believes wildflowers belong in any garden or flower arrangement.

She isn’t a purist — she even recommends some non-native annuals to add punch to a garden — but she does argue that wildflowers are beautiful in a cultivated setting and beneficial to wildlife and the Earth.

Goldberger’s book includes growing information for specific wildflowers, divided by season, as well as guidance on starting wildflowers from seed and creating gardens of wildflowers.

She also offers instructions for harvesting those flowers and using them in floral designs, even wedding bouquets and arrangements.

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