Hartley Magazine

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Holiday Books for Better Gardening – It’s curl-up-and-read time

Why is it that most garden books debut in February? I have to wait until then for Willy Galloway’s terrific vegetable book, Grow, Cook, Eat—A Food Lover’s Guide to Vegetable Gardening. Is February the month when publishers assume gardeners’ hearts turn to spring?

This gardener’s heart is warmed by new books in deep winter, when I have time to curl up and dream of summer. So here are seven 2011 publications you won’t have to wait for—perfect for holiday giving. You might even want to include a few on your own holiday-hint list.

Garden Up by Susan Morrison and Rebecca Sweet (Timber Press) offers a new look at verticality. With chapters on arbors and trellises, narrow spaces, living walls, and—my favorite—hiding eyesores, this book gives me the information to tackle those areas. The writing is lively, as if Susan and Rebecca were accompanying me around the various gardens featured in the book. They point out designer details I might have overlooked.

What I like about Citrus—How to Grow and Use Citrus Fruits Flowers and Foliage by Monica Moran Brandies (B.B. Mackey Books) is how much handy information gets packed into this small book. A perfect stocking stuffer, it’s about growing, but even more about using, all kinds of citrus—including recipes for cleaning, making cosmetics and, oh yes, eating.  I now can concoct orange oil and make key lime pie with real key limes.

Another must-have is Edible Landscaping—Now You Can Have Your Gorgeous Garden and Eat It Too! by Rosalind Creasy (Sierra Club Books). Her smart savvy writing conveys countless ideas for celebrating the design qualities of fruits and vegetables. Every time I delve into this book, I know my next planting will be a two-fer—ornamental and edible.

Other not-to-be-overlooked favorites: Amy Stewart’s Wicked Bugs (Algonquin Books) is terrific for nature’s melodrama; Stephen Orr’s Tomorrow’s Garden—Design and Inspiration for a New Age of Sustainable Gardening (Rodale) outlines our future gardens; for DIYers, Lorene Edwards Forkner offers Handmade Garden Projects (Timber Press) that range from the brilliantly repurposed—vinyl records as flowers—to elegantly created outdoor terrariums. I could actually construct the canning jar lanterns with battery-powered LED tap-on lights hidden under the lid.

And yes! I just found out my friend Marty Wingate’s new (and much needed) Landscaping for Privacy (Timber Press) will defy the February rush and come out in December.

Here’s my holiday hope –these books will empower your dreams for next year’s garden—and that it will be the best one ever.