Winter is an awesome time for gardeners to dream about next year's projects and catch up on their reading. There is an endless list of reference and idea books to help you expand your vision for the coming season. Here are some favorite reads that may fit the bill. Not are all brand new but they should get your imaginations going none-the-less!
The Layered Garden: Design Lessons for Year-Round Beauty from Brandywine Cottage is lays out luscious table of plant combinations and growing techniques. Authored by David Culp, a frequent garden magazine contributor and plantsman for Sunny Border Nurseries in Connecticut, the bounty of color photographs coupled with accessible, good-sense narrative is sure to evoke many ideas for your own garden space.
The book is premised on what Culp calls a "layered" technique, which draws not only on spatial relationships but on interest through four seasons and shifting peaks through the various beds. Of his Brandywine Cottage beds Culp writes, "Each section has multiple layers of interest, some times working in concert and at other times playing off each other." Written from Culp's perspective as a native Pennsylvanian who has learned to live in concert with nature, The Layered Garden is a piece to be savored and re-read. (Timber Press, released October, 2012; 312 pages.)
Sue Reed's Energy-Wise Landscape Design is an information-packed tome if you have an interest in reducing energy costs in your home and landscape. Well organized around the themes of working with nature in using trees, shrubs and plants to mitigate the heat and cold extremes of nature, each chapter includes well-explained action steps to accomplish the goal.
For instance, she walks the reader through the best positioning of deciduous and evergreen trees to provide maximum shade in summer and diverting cold winds in winter, while creating landscapes that are both aesthetically pleasing and highly functional. Use of native plants and more sustainable lawn practices are also discussed. Reed's suggestions can be implemented in both established and new homes, but this is a must read if you are considering building a home. (New Society Publishers, released April, 2010; 304 pages.)
Year-round color is also the focus of The Nonstop Garden: A Step-by-Step Guide to Smart Plant Choices and Four-Season Designs by Stephanie Cohen and Jennifer Benner. The authors, both veterans of magazines like Fine Gardening, make the case for well-planned gardens with an expanded palette of trees, shrubs, perennials, annuals, vines and structure that reduce labor and energy use, attract wildlife and provide ongoing delight.
As they move through the contributions each plant group can offer, they include sample garden plans and well-illustrated examples of plants that will thrive and thrill. Whether you are new to gardening or a veteran, the authors introduce you to an pallete of plant materials sure to please. Large, full-colored photos of individual plants as well as garden vignettes offer inspiration and interest. (Timber Press, released May, 2010; 248 pages.)
Hunkering down with some good garden books like these just may get you to the growing season full of new energy and ideas.
Note: (The Energy-Wise Landscape Design book is reviewed from a complimentary copy received by Anne Larson)