Great gardening books
Are you looking for design-savvy ways to spring into summer? Here are some smashing new books that we think are just the things to motivate you to get growing, grilling, landscaping and decorating now that the warm weather's finally here!
1 Kitchen Garden Box: Save & Sow Seeds of Your Favorite Vegetables
By Mike McGrath, Quirk Books, $24.95
Who'll love this gift set: Beginner to intermediate green thumbs
Why: This easy-to-stow gift set contains tabbed cards explaining everything you need to know about growing your own vegetables from seed (and storing prized seeds for next year). There's also plenty of information on making compost, building raised vegetable beds, natural pest control and a load of recipes to boot.
Pretty envelopes hold your seeds and have spaces for labeling specifics.
Written by the host of National Public Radio's You Bet Your Garden, this book-in-a-box has lots of value. It would have more, however, if the included Free Seeds coupon were honoured in Canada, not just the U.S.!
Sample wisdom: For a humane animal-control solution, set a motion-activated sprinkler attachment to your hose. When a deer, cat, raccoon, skunk or other unwanted guest encroaches on your vegetable patch, a spray of cold water will act as a safe, harmless yet highly effective deterrent.
2 Garden Anywhere
By Alys Fowler, Chronicle Books, $32.50
Who'll love this book: Locavores, organic foodies, green thumbs
Why: This all-encompassing resource focuses on how to garden in small and unexpected places. Container gardening, herb gardens and kitchen gardens are covered in detail, as is the nitty-gritty of plant care, from sprouts and transplants to maturity, natural pest control, soil amending, complementary plantings and much, much more. Want a step-by-step how-to on building your own from-scratch compost (and composter)? This is the book for you.
The author was trained at the New York Botanical Garden and the Royal Botanical Gardens at Kew and has a fantastic stylists' eye. The photography is stylish and inspiring, yet so much of the propping uses found and recycled goods.
This budget-conscious book may become your gardening bible if you've got an urban design sensibility and eco bent.
3 Andrea Cochran: Landscapes
By Mary Myers, Princeton Architectural Press, $69.95
Who'll love this book: Landscape architecture wonks and modern design lovers.
Why: Known for her contemplative, contemporary gardens, lauded landscape architect Andrea Cochrane works in country and city, private homes and institutional settings.
The San Francisco-based architect marries her outdoor spaces to the spirit of the modern buildings they complement. She softens some edges, but doesn’t erase them. Wondering if gardens can be both lush and minimalist at the same time? Feast your eyes on the beautiful photos in this book and you’ll be convinced they can.
Sample wisdom: Consider pea gravel for your garden path or parking pad. It looks uniform, yet adds texture, tactile and auditory elements. Feeling and hearing it crunch underfoot is an instant mood lifter. And it’s more eco-friendly than concrete or asphalt since it absorbs rainwater and reflects less heat back into the atmosphere.
4 Backyards: A Sunset Design Guide
By Bridget Biscotti Bradley and the editors of Sunset Books, Sunset Publishing, $29.95
Who'll love this book: Anyone looking to improve their outdoor space this summer
Why: This book covers all the big topics when it comes to contemporary backyards. You'll find chapters devoted to cooking and entertaining, water features, play spaces for kids and pets, as well as the nitty gritty on lighting and heating, furniture and backyard structures.
Discussions of hardscaping materials, lawns and lawn alternatives, and transition spaces (side yards) are nicely illustrated.
Sunset Books sometimes get criticized for dated photography, but Backyards: A Sunset Design Guide boasts inspiring, on-trend photos and the information is service-oriented and hands-on.
The included interactive Sunset Landscape Designer DVD works on both PC and Macs.
Sample wisdom: Worried about the safety of a trampoline? Dig a hole in the ground, line it, and install the trampoline so the surface is at ground level. Accidental falls won’t be from an elevated surface. Added bonus: the formerly in-your-face trampoline visually recedes into the landscape, so your yard is less family-free-for-all and more family-chic.