This is a time of year I find myself browsing through the garden books that have grown into a small library surrounding my desk and filling several shelves by the living-room fireplace. Some of the books are large works, others are smaller and more specialized. However, what I find myself turning to most frequently are the pamphlets and newspaper clippings standing upright in napkin holders, plus the colorful paperbacks lined up beside them.
Remember, the hardbacks aren't ignored. But when I want some specific information on, for example, weeds in the lawn I turn the paperbacks. The large , all-inclusive garden encyclopedia may give only a paragraph on them, while a specialized book may list 500 and detail their family histories.
Sometimes a small pamphlet is much easier to work with. One is called ""What's That Weed" and is free from Scotts of Maryville, Ohio 43040, a company dealing in lawn products. Other companies also give out information booklets free. I just received one entitled, "Success With Houseplants Starts With Soil, " from the Ringer Corporation, 6860 Flying Cloud Drive, Eden Prairie, Minnesota 55344.
Both state and federal governments have huge quantities of free literature for gardeners. These may be obtained at federal bookstores or at local extension service offices.
You can write to the Consumer Information Center, Pueblo, CO 81009 and ask for a copy of the Consumer Information Catalog. It's free and lists scores of government publications on a wide range of subjects, including gardening. Some of them are free.
Another good source of information are the amateur organizations which publish for their skilled membership. For example, the American Orchid Society (Botanical Museum of Harvard University, Cambridge, Massachusetts 02138) has a "Handbook for Orchid Culture," which has all the basics, with color photographs.
Most horticultural societies publish information accurately and cheaply. One group, Gardens for All (Box 371B, Shelburne, Vermont 05482) even gets out information on how to organize community gardens.
General publishers have a wide variety of paperback garden books on the market. The Merchants Publishing Company, (20 Mills Street, Kalamazoo, Michigan 49001) has an excellent product it calls the Modern Living Series. These paperbacks are inexpensive, colorful, and accurate, and cover a wide range of indoor houseplants.
The two advantages of these types of printed material are, first, brevity and , second, expense.
So enjoy your reading, whatever form it comes in.