Thursday, March 8, 2018

A Tapestry Garden: The Art of Weaving Plants and Place, by Ernie O’Byrne Marietta O’Byrne. Timber Press, 2018




In one of the best growing areas in the US, the Willamette Valley in Oregon, the O’Byrnes have created a wonderful garden- or, perhaps it should be called “gardenS”.  On one and a half acres they have created a garden with several microclimates in it. They have both used existing microclimates and created some of their own- trees they planted when they first got there have matured and created shade gardens. No matter; they are not averse to moving plants when needed. Or, for that matter, moving tons of soil amendments and rocks.



It amazes me how they have done this garden; when they first arrived, they gardened for other people as a profession. Then they started a nursery. As someone who has done both those things, I have a great deal of respect for anyone who can do those things AND find the energy for doing what they have done!



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Sunday, February 18, 2018

The Inviting Garden: Gardening for the Senses, Mind, and Spirit, by Allen Lacy. Henry Hold and Company, 1998




This is a lovely and inspiring book by the late Mr. Lacy, one that made me long for spring so that I can work in the garden. The first part is built around the five senses, one chapter per- tasting herbs and vegetables; listening to fountains, wind chimes and birds; feeling soft lamb’s ears and soft earth; smelling roses, lilies, and mock orange; and of course viewing the many flowers and leaves that the garden offers us. For the mind section he ventures into botanical nomenclature; how much there is to know about even one plant and how it works (especially if you get into the biome in which it grows, including insects and soil critters); the history of plant discoveries; floral legends; and how the American yard turned out like it has- mostly lawn and open to view. Spirit is basically that gardening is not a hobby, but a way of being that absorbs one.



This is not a coffee table book, but it contains a lot of gorgeous photographs. All make you long to step into them and enjoy the garden portrayed. His writing wanders at times; when he describes a plant we are apt to learn about its history and uses as well as how it looks.  It’s rather like being in the garden and talking with a very educated plantsman. Five stars.

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The above is an affiliate link. If you click through and buy something- anything- from Amazon, they will give me a few cents. This did not affect my review. 

Sunday, December 31, 2017

The Green Tapestry, by Beth Chatto. Simon and Schuster, 1989





Beth Chatto is a highly respected plantswoman, as both designer and plant ecologist. This book focuses on her own garden, which has many different zones with differences in soil type, sun/shade exposure, degree of moisture available, etc., and shows us how she has planted the areas. Her philosophy of planting is to observe what conditions your garden has (and, like her, you may have more than one type of area) and select plants that like those conditions. In quest of this information, she has spent time looking up where original species came from. Don’t think because she is planting to suit the site that her plantings are boring; she has used many plants that are less common. The area of England that she lives in is drier and colder than most of Great Britain, so her conditions are more like the USA. Five stars for solid information. 

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The above is an affiliate link. If you click through and buy something- anything- from Amazon, they will give me a few cents. 

This did not influence my review. 

Monday, August 15, 2016

100 Vegetables and Where They Came From, by William Woys Weaver. Algonquin Books, 2000




The title pretty much says it all; the book tells us about 100 vegetables, what they taste like, where they are from, and how they are prepared. What the title doesn’t tell us is that these vegetables are special; they are some of the tastiest plants on the planet. Consider golden corn salad from Italy, whose large leaves make a salad beautiful; or the Petaluma Gold Rush bean, which when used dried keeps a marvelous meaty taste and texture. The Re Umberto tomato is a paste tomato that is incredibly productive and has an unmatched flavor. Some plants are included mainly because they are different and pretty, but most are included because of flavor. Being both gardener and foodie, I found myself looking up seed sources and bookmarking them numerous times while reading.

The prose is chatty and an easy, fast read. Nice line drawings illustrate the veggies. My only problem with the book is that an awful lot of these wonderful plants won’t grow in my short season area!



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The above is an affiliate link. If you click through and buy something- anything- from Amazon, they will give me a few cents.

This in no way influenced my review. 

Thursday, August 4, 2016

Stargazer lilies

What with being sick for so long and everything in the garden going faster this year, I've missed taking pictures of most things. That is a shame, because many of the plants have been not just early for extraordinary.

 Take the Stargazer lilies; most years they only have a couple of buds, and about the time they are starting to open, the deer eat them all gone. This year, for some strange reason, the deer have allowed them to bloom! They haven't been eating my roses yet, either, and some of them bloomed like crazy. The grasshoppers, on the other hand, have been fruitful and multiplied this year and are eating the leaves and stems of the vegetable, annuals, and even some perennials. When you walk outside, they are all over your legs, taking off and crashing into you. I see no way to get rid of them, sadly, that doesn't involve chemicals I don't want to use. Next year I'll try and remember this and get some of the organic grasshopper bait early; you have to start early in the season for it to start.

Sunday, July 24, 2016

The Art of Faux: The Complete Sourcebook of Decorative Painted Finishes, by Pierre Finkelstein. Watson-Guptill Publications, 1997




I have several faux finishing books I’ve accumulated over the years (I used to do a good bit of faux and fancy paint finishes), and this is the best one I’ve found. His great strength in this book is various types of fake stone: marble, semiprecious stone, limestone and sandstone. He devotes a lot of space and step by step photographs to stone. A lot of it is fairly advanced, but there is also some easy ones like lapis lazuli. There is one magnificent faux inlaid panel he shows us; a vase of flowers of inlaid semiprecious stones. The finishes most people would start with, especially on large walls, like patinas and distressing, are in there, as well as the high complex art of trompe l’Oeil- painting fancy moldings on walls and doors. Finkelstein is the first author I have seen actually demonstrate *how* to draw the moldings and paint them, complete with shadows and highlights. Other books show a couple of them to you and “And then a miracle occurs!” they don’t bother to tell you how to do them. Trompe l’Oeil is the one faux that always defeated me. Now I almost feel like I could do it, and I happen to have a couple of flat doors that need painting… 


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The above is an affiliate link. If you click through and buy something- anything- from Amazon, they will give me a few cents. This in no way influenced my review.