Gardening Inspiration from Books

We have had an unusually warm winter and spring here in the Finger Lakes area of New York, and in much of the United States.  The thermometer reached 80 degrees here on March 21st – the first day of Spring.  Ordinarily there is still snow on the ground!  This is wonderful, but worrying.  Is there still a frost in our future that will nip the tender new buds and leaves?  It seems likely.

The balmy weather has moved us outdoors and we have been working on the gardens way ahead of schedule this year.  The daffodils, hyacinth, and forsythia are in full bloom.  We have already raked and mulched, and have even mowed the grass on the south lawn.  In the evenings I have been reading some excellent gardening books.  Here are two I’d like to share with you which I have found very practical and inspiring:

Bringing A Garden to Life, by Carol Williams (NY: Bantam, 1998)

I’m particularly fond of Bringing A Garden to Life, which is one of the most down-to- earth, inspiring and practical gardening books I’ve read in a long time.  It has the most detailed and easy to understand instructions on the art of making a good working compost heap that I have ever found in print.  Happily the author encourages patience and enjoyment of each stage of your garden and of every gardening task.  She discourages any guilt for experiments gone wrong, or for weeds occasionally invading the garden when other priorities invade our lives, as they are bound to do.   At the rear of the book there are pages of recommended books, both in and out-of-print, on specific gardening subjects, everything from propagating to pruning.

Helen Van Pelt Wilson's Own Garden and Landscape Book (NY: Weathervane Books, 1973)

Helen Van Pelt Wilson, who passed away about a year ago at the age of 102, was considered one of the best garden writers of the 20th century.  In Helen Van Pelt Wilson’s Own Gardening and Landscape Book, her advice comes from her own long experience gardening in both Philadelphia and Westport, CT.  The author makes an excellent gardening mentor, as she doesn’t hold back on the mistakes she has made (and from which she has learned indelible lessons).  Besides the excellent narrative which is illustrated with photographs, she presents lists of recommended plants, their soil and light requirements, height at maturity, and reasons for her recommendations.  (My thanks to Aileen, a wonderful friend and book customer from Ohio–and an excellent gardener–who was kind enough to share this book with me).

Reading the works of experienced gardeners and landscape designers can motivate us to create beautiful outdoor spaces and to produce succulent home grown fruits, vegetables and herbs.  The shared wisdom of these garden writers is invaluable in saving disappointment and expense and in our gardening adventures.

To view the many books available on gardening available at Old Scrolls Book Shop, click here. 

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