Pat Regel

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Whether you're a seasoned gardener who has tilled the soil for decades or a new gardener who can't quite get used to dirt under your fingernails, one thing's certain: spring marks a new beginning in everyone's garden. Some of this change is planned creating a new bed for mixed plantings or renovating a perennial border. But there are also unforeseen changes plants that don't like where they've been placed and require moving in order to improve their growth. Fortunately, several new books coming out this season can help you handle the changes spring has in store for your garden.

Taunton Press, which produces Fine Gardening magazine, has come out with a series of four Design Guides (each priced at $17.95) that offer hands-on advice and inspirational ideas from more than 50 of the country's top landscape architects, garden designers, horticulturists and master gardeners on the subjects they know best. Creating Beds and Borders offers innovative ideas for eye-catching island beds and borders. Beautiful color photos and easy-to-read text explain the steps involved for building a bed without the usual back-breaking work, selecting the best border plants to achieve continuous bloom from spring to fall, getting more blooms from your perennials, and using foliage plants to create more color and drama in your flower beds. In Landscaping Your Home, the experts show you how to evaluate your property and draw a personalized landscape plan, create a welcoming entry area, design a landscape that suits your home and lifestyle, plant for small spaces and create attractive garden rooms and spaces for family activities. As a resource for present and future projects, Taunton also offers Designing With Plants and Exploring Garden Style. These four guides will make an excellent addition to any gardener's library.

Rhododendrons and Azaleas by Geoff Bryant will insure immediate gratification in your newly designed flower beds. Along with a section on the most popular species and varieties, Bryant includes information on the uses of rhododendrons in the garden, their cultivation, soil, nutrition, pests, diseases, pruning and propagation. His 95 color photos will convince you that these are must-have plants that really do have it all. For help with other species, Firefly Books has published a new series of specialty titles focusing on specific plants, including Orchids and Hibiscus, all of which present information quickly and thoroughly.

Have you ever visited a flower show or nursery center wishing you'd brought a quick-reference plant guide to look up valuable culture information before you purchased plants? As a rule, plant guides are far too bulky to tuck under the arm and consult while meandering through flower beds, but now there's an excellent resource to serve this purpose the American Horticultural Society Great Plant Guide. This is the perfect compact, quick-reference book, containing more than 1,000 color photos and detailed descriptions of 3,000 shrubs, trees, climbers, bulbs, perennials, annuals and biennials for every garden situation. In addition, this handy little guide offers plant lists for problem sites, colorful foliage and fruit, small gardens, containers, hanging baskets, flowering bulbs, winter interest, hedges, groundcovers and scented foliage. There are also hardiness zone and heat zone maps. Before you leave for your next flower show, pack this guide to take along. You'll use it continually throughout the growing season.

Ortho's classic Home Gardener's Problem Solver is out in its newest edition, and you'll want this updated text for your bookshelves. This home gardener reference has been adapted from the huge professional edition usually seen in garden centers. Just as comprehensive as the professional edition, it features 400 pages of problem-solving techniques for lawns, bulbs, groundcovers, flowers, shrubs, vines, vegetables and fruits. There's even a section on houseplants and insect pest remedies to keep houseplants disease-free. If you're new to gardening and don't want to learn the art through painful experience, Ortho's Home Gardener's Problem Solver can reduce your learning curve and insure that your plants live longer and stay healthy.

Pat Regel is the author of The Houseplant Survival Guide.

 

Whether you're a seasoned gardener who has tilled the soil for decades or a new gardener who can't quite get used to dirt under your fingernails, one thing's certain: spring marks a new beginning in everyone's garden. Some of this change is planned creating a new bed for mixed plantings or renovating a perennial border. […]
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Some people enjoy the challenge of designing their own garden from start to finish. They plot which plants should go where, what color combinations look best, what will survive in their climate, and what will give them the biggest bang for their buck. There are just as many people, however, who have neither the time, know-how, or inspiration to design a garden. Beginners and intermediate gardeners also experience the added burden of intimidation when they first sit down with piece of graph paper. Fortunately, Garden Blueprints is now available to help. Garden Blueprints is a practical guide with advice on how to cut corners, minimize your learning curve, and save time and money. It offers ready-made garden plans scaled to the typical backyard, tips for implementing each plan, extensive plant lists, and easy-to-follow directions for planting and maintaining.

Among the many garden plans included are: the children's garden, city courtyard garden, fragrant garden, moonlight garden, hummingbird garden, hot color garden, and the seaside garden. There is also information on planting a shade garden, wetland garden, and meadow garden. This beautifully illustrated volume of garden plans and full-color photographs will assist beginners and advanced gardeners alike and will be a wonderful addtion to any gardener's bookshelf.

Some people enjoy the challenge of designing their own garden from start to finish. They plot which plants should go where, what color combinations look best, what will survive in their climate, and what will give them the biggest bang for their buck. There are just as many people, however, who have neither the time, […]
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Have you ever needed clear-cut, specific information on a gardening subject? You check your favorite gardening magazine and find more fluff than substance. The gardening books you've collected over the years have a little information, but don't address the subject in depth, and your local nurseries, garden centers, and radio garden show hosts haven't a clue. So, where do you go to get the answers?

You do what any serious gardener does. You begin building your reference library on the front end. This is particularly important for beginner gardeners. Beginners have a lot of general questions about everything horticultural, but as they start putting in years of hands-on experience, the tougher, more specific questions become the challenges, and particular interests develop. Every experienced gardener remembers graduating from the basic generalities to the in-depth specifics. Building a good reference library takes time, but there's no guesswork about what sources to begin with. The American Horticultural Society (AHS) has long been recognized for providing gardeners with usable, specific information. Their references, encyclopedias, and guides are affordable, and the topics are extensive and instructive. Below are some of their recent references published by Dorling Kindersley.

Gardening in Shade by Linden Hawthorne offers more choices for sunless gardens than you can imagine. This small text explains the advantages of shade gardening and offers not only flowering and foliage plant lists, but planting plans for shady borders, shady city gardens, planting under trees, planting in damp shade, and special plant collections. Gardening in the shade comes with its own requirements and problems, and this guide explains how to care for shade plants when preparing the bed for planting, giving routine plant care, and keeping shade plants healthy and disease-free. Because shade is not just shade, the guide also discusses plants for light, partial, dappled, and deep shade. A handy calendar of seasonal reminders is included as well as an A-Z plant directory.

Herb Gardens by Richard Rosenfeld is crammed with encyclopedic information about creating formal herb gardens, growing herbs in gravel, brick and paving stone, growing herbs in containers, using herbs in Mediterranean plantings and in mixed borders. Along with extensive plant lists and directory, there are projects for drying and storing herbs, culinary and craft usage, as well as simple herbal remedies. Plant care is discussed, from raising seedlings to harvesting, and the same instructive color photos appear in this guide as in all of the other guides in this series.

Perennials by Ray Edwards is a good introductory primer to perennials. Over the past 20 years, these plants have become more popular in the U. S. than annuals because they don't need to be planted each year, they multiply quickly, and therefore they are cheaper in the long run. This AHS guide introduces beginners to flowering and foliage perennials, offers garden plans to suit any garden site, soil, and style, and discusses designing beds for color. There are instructions for preparing the soil, care of plants throughout the year, and raising new plants from seed, cuttings, or division. Several garden projects show how to create the traditional herbaceous border, manage difficult sites, and grow perennials in containers. There is also a helpful color photo plant directory. If clematis or roses become your passion after being introduced to perennials, you'll also find informative AHS guides on them as well.

Containers by Peter Robinson will convince you that you don't have to have a garden plot to enjoy growing plants. This guide is particularly helpful to apartment, condominium, or small property dwellers. Robinson discusses choosing the right container for the right plant and how to site and group them for an overall pleasing effect. He also offers several projects that allow the container gardener to make painted, stenciled, and mosaic pots, construct wooden windowboxes, planters, and faux stone troughs. He explains plant care from choosing various soil mixes and planting to caring for potted plants throughout the year. A colorful plant directory gives the mature size of plants, and a section on edible plants for container growing will broaden any beginner's gardening skills and enjoyment.

Ponds & Water Features, also by Peter Robinson, shows you how to create both small and large ponds and water features. Again, those who live in apartments or small dwellings will be interested in this guide, because Robinson proves that you don't need a lot of space to enjoy the sound of water. His guide shows you how to choose a water feature that suits the style of your garden, taking into consideration traditional, contemporary, and multicultural influences. He demonstrates how to make a simple lined pond, add beaches and bog gardens, cascades and canals, create bubble fountains and wall fountains. There is also an important section on choosing and planting water plants and maintaining them throughout the year. A color plant directory for water environments waterlilies, lotuses, marginal plants, and moisture-loving plants is at the end of the book.

Plant Propagation, edited by Alan Toogood, is a larger comprehensive reference for dealing with all methods of propagation for more than 1,500 plants. It is beginner-friendly and offers easy-to-follow, step-by-step explanations. Each entry in the A-Z section tells you which method of propagation to use for which plant, when to propagate, and what degree of skill each method requires. The book explains which seeds need special treatment before sowing, how to provide the conditions to ensure good germination, the yield you can expect, and length of time to maturity. If you haven't a clue about taking cuttings from specific plants and insuring successful rooting, Toogood simplifies things for you. His resource is so comprehensive that this is the only plant propagation reference you'll ever need. AHS offers many more references, encyclopedias, and guides than are discussed here, and each provides the same concise, informative material and color photo entries. Beginners should be choosy about the references that form the core of their garden library. Other books written with a European or English bent may tempt beginners with colorful pictures of lush gardens and seemingly easy-to-grow plants accompanied by copious instructions, but it would be wise to leave them for later enjoyment.

Beginners will soon realize that growing conditions in American are not the same as growing conditions in other countries. Growing anything here is far more difficult than growing plants in other countries. America is a country of extremes, and each of our many regions has its own particular problems. Other countries don't have to put up with annual drought, blizzards, tornadoes, hail storms, floods, high humidity, plunging frigid temperatures, torrential rains, occasional volcanic cloud cover, and 115-degree heat waves. The goal of the AHS is to educate people of all ages in becoming successful and environmentally responsible gardeners. By advancing the art and science of horticulture, they hope to make this goal a reality. To find out more about the Society, beginners can find them online at www.ahs.org.

Pat Regel writes and gardens in Mt. Juliet, Tennessee.

Have you ever needed clear-cut, specific information on a gardening subject? You check your favorite gardening magazine and find more fluff than substance. The gardening books you've collected over the years have a little information, but don't address the subject in depth, and your local nurseries, garden centers, and radio garden show hosts haven't a […]

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