Each year the American Horticultural Society (AHS) honors great gardening literature through the AHS Book Award Program. The awards, which are chosen by a distinguished committee of garden writers, began with the announcement of 75 Great American Garden Books as part of AHS' celebration of its 75th anniversary. Awards are chosen and presented to the publisher in the year following publication.
Starr Ockenga has interviewed 18 women who have worked and shaped their land, often over the course of several decades, into their dream gardens. From Ellie Spingarn's Connecticut stone wall to Georgie Erskine's Southern California citrus allee, each has features that are unique but fit seamlessly into their environment. There are meadows, orchards, a bonsai garden, vegetable gardens carved out of woodland, one walled English-style garden, and one that's intensely French, with topiaries, espaliered bushes, and a copper-roofed teahouse. Each woman is a plant collector of sorts, and each garden description is accompanied by a list of recommended plants. This is a joyous, soulful book that explores the complexity of garden-building and the effect it has on gardeners' lives.
We meet Finnish-born Maiju Kontii, who cultivates the beautiful roses of her homeland, and Polish native Danuta Mazurek, who manages to grow the colorful, leafy alpines of the old country in her small urban yard. John Maire moved to Minnesota from the Sudan and has encouraged many fellow Africans to reconnect to communal lite through the Immigrant Farmers Coalition and a group farm located near Elk River. Next to their downtown Minneapolis high-rise, a group of Korean Americans grows a Peace Garden, which includes wild sesame and the lovely and edible Chinese bellflower.
The profiles in Growing Home also feature American-born citizens who use their gardening as a link to their cultural past. Minnesota native Kevin Oshima yearned for a connection to his Japanese heritage and eventually earned the title "bonsai master" for his success in growing these temperamental trees. Seitu Jones considers his attempt to keep the city green a tribute to "all the marvelous, unsung black folks who've been gardening for years".
Well over one hundred beautiful color images highlight this unique look at how ordinary people create the extraordinary in their own backyards. Growing Home will delight not only gardeners but also readers of all backgrounds and interests.
For people who love gardens, propagationthe practice of growing whatever you want, whenever you wantis gardening itself. In this paperback reissue of the successful book Making More Plants, Druse, one of Americas foremost gardening authorities, presents innovative, practical techniques for expanding any plant collection, along with more than 500 photographs. Based on years of personal research, this is a practical manual as well as a beautiful garden book, presenting procedures Ken Druse has tested and adapted, as well as photographed step by step.
Filling these pages are close-up photos of plants at every stage of life and in every variety--pinecones, dried seed pods, root and stem cuttings, ripe fruits, and lush flowers show off their unique shapes and colors everywhere you look. Specific techniques are outlined with both photos and text; from the spore prints of ferns to the nicking of hard-shelled seeds, you'll learn exactly how to tackle every aspect of creating new plants. Careful attention is paid in the text to the timing of taking different types of cuttings from different plants, and these practical details will hopefully help curb any urgent desire to play Johnny Appleseed with your favorite wildflowers until the season is exactly right. Special projects like hardwood cutting and involving children in plant propagation have small sections devoted to them; the African violet project for youngsters is a fascinating introduction, and only slightly more involved than that old carrot-top-in-a-dish-of-water project. For serious gardeners who enjoy plants for more than their pretty flowers and attractive shapes, this combination of science and beauty will supply both inspiration and information. --Jill Lightner
Acclaimed gardener Amy Goldman, known to viewers of Martha Stewart and PBS, is a dedicated seed saver working to preserve fast-disappearing varieties of heirloom melons. Her book, Melons for the Passionate Grower, is a celebration of the speckled, bumpy, oh-so-sweet world of the melonfrom Minnesota Midget and Georgia Rattlesnake to Ali Baba and Sweet Siberian.
Here she profiles more than one hundred varieties, each showcased in a full-color photographic still life recalling eighteenth- and nineteenth-century botanical paintings and engravings. Goldman also offers expert advice on cultivating and selecting your own melons, as well as the rudiments of seed saving.
Before you get too caught up in the gorgeous photos and fascinating histories of these gems, note the seed company list at the end of the book--you can try to grow all the plants you read about. The introductory section includes detailed instructions on hand pollination, ripening, and a few recipes like watermelon salad with onion, pepper, oil, and vinegar in addition to the sweet melon.
The pages that fall in the middle are mini temples devoted to individual melons. Often romantic histories are included next to the glossy photos--who can resist tales of the Hungarian noble who wrapped her beloved sweet melons in her furs? With varieties like the slender, crunchy Snake and the astonishingly sweet Bidwell Casaba, learning about these glorious fruits will keep you fascinated for the rest of your gardening days. --Jill Lightner