A bevy of beauty tips for your yard
A new crop of gardening books blends sound advice with earthy glamour.
To create a beautiful - or productive - garden, you need two things: inspiration and practical knowledge. So garden books tend to be divided between the gorgeous (those that brim with lush photographs and spectacular ideas for readers to sigh over) and the pragmatic (those that take you step by step into the how-to realm).Skip to next paragraph
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But the cream of the latest crop combine both elements.
Since the beginning of PBS's venerable "Victory Garden" TV show, each new host has written a book. Those penned by original host Jim Crockett about three decades ago have remained the best - until now.
Michael Weishan's The Victory Garden Companion (written with Laurie Donnelly) presents a potpourri of landscape-planning and design tips. He calls the contents "a selective sampler of good gardening advice." He stresses fundamentals - from choosing and planting the best shrubs or trees for your yard to how to lay a brick patio. Weishan's recommendations are practical and straightforward; he anticipates readers' questions - and potential problems - and answers them in a friendly, useful manner. It's like being guided by a congenial expert who happens to live next door.
Each of the nine chapters ends with a look at what's called an "inspired garden." These range from the historic - Colonial Williamsburg and Edith Wharton's The Mount - to excellent examples of specialty public gardens (the Redland Fruit and Spice Park in Florida). Just as on the TV show, Weishan shows us what we can learn from the best of the best.
Outside the Not So Big House emphasizes that a landscape doesn't exist solely on its own. Neither does even the most impressive house. The two should be linked and complement each other. Homeowners need to think in terms of "the transitions and connections between the inside of a house and the outside," says architect Sarah Susanka.
This beautiful book combines the best qualities of coffee-table attractiveness and excellent advice. It pairs Susanka - author of previous "Not So Big House" books, which emphasize the trend toward smaller homes - and noted landscape and garden designer Julie Moir Messervy. They label their landscaping concept "opening up the relationship of indoors and out," and encourage readers to make the most of each.
The duo explain and illustrate their ideas through visits to 20 homes around the country - among them an 80-year-old house on a wooded lot near Boston, an adobe house in Santa Fe that matches its ecosystem, and a tiny structure perched on a hill in San Francisco. Each spread explores the parallels between outside and inside at that particular property. Because many are owned by architects and landscape architects, useful ideas abound, just waiting to be borrowed and put to use in readers' yards.
As its name suggests, The Encyclopedia of Garden Design & Structure takes a less-personal and more encompassing view of the landscaping process. Well-known garden photographer and writer Derek Fell breaks down the various aspects of planning or renovating a landscape into projects. Then he provides, through more than 800 gorgeous photos as well as brief descriptions, ideas to expand your thinking about outdoor living.