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Review Essays of Academic, Professional & Technical Books in the Humanities & Sciences



Grass Scapes: Gardening with Ornamental Grasses by Martin Quinn, Catherine Macleod (Ball Publishing) Martin Quinn and Catherine Macleod have put together a great book showing how to use grasses in landscapes. They discuss forms and uses before giving details about 100 different species of grass. Quinn is a renowned grass breeder in Canada, so he knows his grasses and includes many that are hardy for use in northern climates. Expert grass breeders reveal the amazing diversity of ornamental grasses in this beautifully illustrated book. Gardeners are shown how grasses, unlike other plants, offer texture, shape, color, movement, and even sound to create a dramatic and calming effect in any landscape design. Grass forms and uses are detailed, terminology is explained, and proper grass maintenance and care are outlined. Gardeners also learn about how to get the most out of grasses in the summer, fall, and winter seasons. One hundred different grasses are shown and described in the "Grasses at a Glance" section, and simple garden plans show how easily grasses can be placed in gardens and landscapes.

Continuous Color: A Month-by-Month Guide to Shrubs and Small Trees for the Continuous Bloom Garden by Pam Duthie (Ball Publishing) A guide to using more than flowers to make a beautiful garden, this book discusses the small trees and shrubs that make up much of the structure for contemporary gardens. Trees and shrubs are arranged according to months of interest with many of the trees' characteristics described through multiple seasons-flowers in spring, foliage in summer, foliage and fruit in fall, and bark in winter. Gardeners can find the information they need quickly, and each of the 272 entries include beautiful photographs showing the plant characteristics in a natural setting. Specific gardening information is listed for each tree-the plant type, zone grown in, fruit or flower, habit or foliage, height, width, spacing, light, soil, care, uses in the garden, problems, insider's tips, and complimentary plants. Deciduous, evergreen, and broadleaf evergreen trees and shrubs are all profiled.

The New York Times 1000 Gardening Questions and Answers: Based on the Column "Gardeners Q. & A.” by Leslie Land (Editor), Garden Editors of the New York Times, Dora Galitzki, Linda Yang (Workman) Authoritative, accessible, and engaging, here is a new reference from The New York Times, a comprehensive, nearly 700-page bible of all the garden news that's fit to print. Based on Gardeners Q&A, the enormously popular syndicated column, The New York Times 1000 Gardening Questions and Answers is like a passionate conversation between gardeners and gardening experts. Every week readers from around the country send in their most vexing problems – how to divide perennials, prune raspberry canes, grow basil that really tastes like basil, get rid of earwigs, find long-lost varieties of flowers, keep honeysuckle under control – and every week, the authorities at the Times write a column full of answers.

Carefully selected, updated, and expanded by Leslie Land, one of the column's two regular authors, here are 1,000 questions and answers that add up to an informal encyclopedia of gardening knowledge. The book covers flowers, trees, shrubs, the lawn, vegetables, herbs, fruit, indoor plants, soil, pests, and troublemakers. It addresses problems`and provides answers to difficulties in every North American zone. Hundreds of line drawings illustrate the book, providing botanical identification and demonstrating how-to gardening techniques. In addition, sidebars throughout supply supplemental information –“Dos and Don'ts of Deadheading," "Annuals that Beat the Heat," "To Prune or Not to Prune: The Clematis Question," "Air Layering," "Windowsill Bonsai" – plus quirky facts, trivia, lore, and myth.

Covered are

  • The Flower Garden
  • The Landscape Garden
  • The Kitchen Garden
  • The Potted Garden
The New York Times 1000 Gardening Questions and Answers is big and it's filled to the brim with information. And it's so lively, it reads like a novel – and belongs on every gardener's potting bench and bedside table..

Gardening with Nature by James Van Sweden (Watson-Guptill Publications) Like Gardening with Water, the first book in the series, this volume is "filled with valuable information and sound advice" (House Beautiful). In Gardening with Nature, Van Sweden shows how to design and plant bold romantic gardens for which he is renowned, teaching readers everything from how to create a meadow to how to block unwanted urban and suburban views. 
One reader says, “This method has become my new gardening bible. It has an up to date, environmentally friendly, low maintenance approach. This book will not appeal to those who like large expanses of cut grass. The focus is on reducing or eliminating cut grass and massing plants. This style creates important habitats for birds and insects that we destroy with large lawns and weed killers and fertilizers. And the effect is very beautiful! 
From another reader: “I borrowed a dozen books on naturalistic planting from a friend of mine that is REALLY into gardening. All of the books had beautiful photographs and some were interesting to read but only Gardening with Nature told me how to design a natural garden for my house. I'm so impressed I'm going to fork over my own money to buy it.”

This is a well organized and written book, with beautiful photography, listing all the plant material with drawings for gardeners to follow. A "must" for avid gardeners.  

The Complete Gardener by Monty Don (DK Publishing) Combining practical advice with stunning photography, The Complete Gardener shows gardeners how to create an environmentally friendly garden for the 21st century, by making the most of the available natural resources to grow organic fruits and vegetables, as well as beautiful plants and flowers. Monty Don's chronicles a year in his garden, including both successes and failures, showing how an organic lifestyle can be adopted by anyone, and organic gardening can be practiced in a yard of any size.
A prolific journalist and leading garden writer, Monty Don is the gardening correspondent for several television shows and newspapers. Drawing directly on the experience gained from his own organic plot in Herefordshire in the UK , Monty explains how a sustainable approach to gardening is the way forward for all enthusiastic gardeners. An irresistible mixture of Monty’s magical turns of phrases and beautiful photographs taken over the course of a year in his own garden, The Complete Gardener shows you how to grow strong, healthy plants and harvest delicious produce while respecting the needs of the environment.

The Complete Gardener combines straightforward, practical advice, and step-by-step photographs to demonstrate best practices, from composting and pest management to sowing, planting, and harvesting fruit and vegetables, and to clarify which varieties to choose for the most successful results. Good design is also emphasized with expert advice on using color, shape, and texture in the flower garden.

Chapters include:

  • Being Organic – everything you need to know about weather, soil, tools, mulches, propagation, weeds, pests, and diseases
  • Structure – planning the design of the garden
  • Flowers – spring, jewel, walled and damp gardens
  • Vegetables – spring, summer, autumn and winter vegetables, crop rotation
  • The Herb Garden – annual and biennial herbs, Mediterranean herbs
  • Fruit – the orchard, and soft fruit such as berries

Imaginative, infused with a deep sense of caring about nature, written with passion and packed with practical advice, Monty Don’s The Complete Gardener breathes new life into every aspect of gardening.

Southern Living Big Book of Flower Gardening (Oxmoor House) A dirty little secret, and I suspect, one that many people who buy gardening books share: I’m the opposite of a closet gardener, I’m a gardener with no time to garden. So I can take Southern Living Big Book of Flower Gardening and sit and look through its beautiful, amazing pages and pretend I’m going to do what I read about. In other words, for me, it’s a fantasy book.

Flowers are one of the defining elements of gardens and homes across the American South. Southern Living Big Book of Flower Gardening contains the essence of how to use their beauty at home. From reviewing the region’s favorite flowers, to helping you create a garden with colorful flowering plants, to showing simple arrangements to adorn the inside of your home, this big book of flowers represents the heart of the garden ideas Southern Living gives its readers every month.

Southern Living Big Book of Flower Gardening contains the best plans, ideas, tools, and embellishments. You can find everything you need to know about growing a flower garden in the South from the experts at Southern Living, including

  • Quick and easy ways to add color

  • Solutions to all types of flower gardening problems

  • Step-by-step projects that can be done in a weekend

  • The lowdown on classic Southern plants

  • Southern gardener’s secrets to spectacular landscapes

Southern Living Big Book of Flower Gardening contains these sections: smart plant choices, flower garden solutions, small garden projects, plants at a glance, southern classics, beautiful gardens, contained gardens, and rooms in bloom. An additional bonus in the book is the flower garden checklist, a monthly to-do list for gorgeous blooms. Also included are frequently asked questions and a detailed index.

What I liked most about Southern Living Big Book of Flower Gardening was, first, of course, the pictures. Second, I could pretend one day I’ll have a garden like that. And third, I liked the fact that the advice I might one day use was backed up by the years of Southern Living, in both senses.

Influential Gardeners: The Designers Who Shaped 20th -Century Garden Style by Andrew Wilson (Clarkson Potter) Visually stunning and exceptionally informative, Influential Gardeners is a guide to the 20th century designers in Europe and America, detailing those who shaped and continue to form today’s taste in garden design.

Influential Gardeners reveals the history and development of garden and landscape design in the 20th century by focusing on 56 key personalities who have shaped—and continue to form—today’s taste. In the 20th century, garden and landscape designers in Europe and the United States began to apply the same design principles to smaller private garden or to public spaces as had previously been applied to country estates.
From early stars such as Gertrude Jekyll, Thomas Church, and Geoffrey Jellicoe to pivotal contemporary designers such as Kathryn Gustafson, Peter Walker, and Jacques Wirtz, the garden designers celebrated in
Influential Gardeners, offer the entire spectrum of garden design and put its influences into perspective.
A knowledge of nature and plants, as well as an aesthetic eye for color, scale, and proportion are all needed by any influential gardener. However, the designers whose work is featured in depth are organized by their prime focus—color and decoration (including Vita Sackville-West and Penelope Hobhouse), planting (including Beth Chatto and Piet Udolph), concept (including Isamu Noguchi and Martha Schwartz), form (including Frank Lloyd Wright and Ted Smyth), structure (including Russell Page and Dan Kiley), texture (including Roberto Burle Marx and Vladimir Sitta), or materials (including Gilles Clément and Topher Delaney). Andrew Wilson’s authoritative text is full of anecdotes and quotes that provide unique insight into each designer’s work, while photographs and plans visually reveal their masterworks. Throughout, biographical details, explanations of important projects, and key designs of each designer are showcased.
Written by the director of the world-famous Inchbald School of Design in London, formerly a freelance garden & landscape designer, with more than 180 glorious photographs of both historic and contemporary schemes,
Influential Gardeners is an essential reference book for anyone—whether a practicing garden designer or an enthusiast—who wishes to know more about the “greats” of 20th-century garden and design.


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