By mid-October, gardeners are plotting spring as they tuck bulbs into the ground. These four new books are certain to inspire, entertain, instruct and just plain get you through the winter until it’s time to go back outside and dig in the dirt again.
“Small Space Garden Ideas,” by Philippa Pearson (DK Publishing, $22.95). Keep your hand in the garden all winter with these clearly explained and temptingly photographed DIY projects. Each is scaled to fit onto a windowsill, staircase, porch, patio or balcony. Some of the projects are quick and easy, like filling a flowered teacup with a sweet little mound of moss. Others, like making a bowl-shaped planter out of concrete, are more daunting. My favorite idea is the Air Plant Chandelier crafted of plastic cups. Or maybe the Edible Planted Wall . . .
“The Creative Shrub Garden: Eye-Catching Combinations for Year-Round Interest,” by Andy McIndoe (Timber Press, $29.95). We needed an update on shrubs and how to combine them, and this book is almost it. The author, managing director of Hillier Nurseries and Garden Centres in Hampshire, England, knows his shrubs. His advice on how to combine shrubs visually and culturally, on pruning, growing shrubs in containers, and planting for seasonal interest are so useful. But I wish the photos were larger and crisper; they don’t do these beautiful plants justice. And we need to see, not just read about, the plant combinations McIndoe suggests.
“Cultivating Garden Style: Inspired Ideas and Practical Advice to Unleash Your Garden Personality,” by Rochelle Greayer (Timber Press, $35). The freshness and international perspective of this manual, half DIY, half “where-to-shop,” is intriguing. The author is a landscape designer, editor of “Pith & Vigor” and co-founder of the defunct “Leaf” magazine. The book’s design is colorful and frenetic, with drawings, sidebars, dozens of little product photos and case studies. The lively text ranges from planting sacred meadows to instructions on how to make a mini-gabion cage. But why aren’t the photos identified? (Is that the mowed path at the Bloedel Reserve? I think so . . .) Here’s a partial list of the kinds of gardens Greayer explores: Hollywood Froufrou, Wabi Sabi Industrial, Plush Yoga, Low Country Shaman, Sophisticated Taj and Arty Islam. Oh, and Playful Pop. This Pinterest of a book won’t bore you.
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“The Living Landscape: Designing for Beauty and Biodiversity in the Home Garden,” by Rick Darke and Doug Tallamy (Timber Press, $39.95). Here’s the book of the season, worth contemplating all winter long for the heartfelt and elegant practicality of its environmentalism. The authors take on the difficult question of how to create a garden as pleasing for humans as it is safe for creatures. Darke’s beautiful photos stress the interconnectedness of nature, while illustrating how to create healthy ecosystems that serve humans, plants, animals, insects and birds.
Valerie Easton is a Seattle freelance writer. Her latest book is “Petal & Twig.” Easton can be reached at email@example.com.