New gardening books give you plenty to think about before you get outside yourself.
SPRING IS A runaway pleasure for gardeners, full of weeds, chores, magnificence and more weeds. Right now, when we have the least time for reading, is when we most need books for reference, ideas and inspiration, and to tote around the nurseries with us. Luckily, there’s a bumper crop of practical and beautiful books this spring:
• “Gardening for Butterflies: How You Can Attract and Protect Beautiful, Beneficial Insects,” The Xerces Society (Timber Press, $24.95).
Save the butterflies, save the world is the motto of this book dedicated to an insect so flutteringly lovely that just a glimpse of one brings joy to the heart of a gardener. But how often do we think about planting for caterpillars as well as nectar? I’ve already copied the list of host and nectar plants for our climate to keep in the front of my gardening notebook. Heads up — butterfly bush isn’t on the list.
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• “The Aromatherapy Garden: Growing Fragrant Plants for Happiness and Well-Being,” by Kathi Keville (Timber Press, $24.95).
Keville believes in the healing power of fragrance. She’s the director of the American Herb Association and grows 500 species of medicinal herbs and fragrant plants at her Green Medicine Herb School in California. The scented plants she calls out in the book’s encyclopedic listing, from clary sage to sweet peas, make great garden plants that attract pollinators, repel deer and are often drought-tolerant. Keville tell us how to distill fragrant garden plants into aromatherapy body oils, tuck them into sachets, make herbal vinegar, and dry foliage and flowers for bouquets and potpourri.
• “The Flower Chef: A Modern Guide to Do-It-Yourself Flower Arrangements,” by Carly Cylinder (Grand Central Life & Style, $28).
A fresh look at flower arranging from a young L.A. florist dedicated to effortless-looking bouquets. Dubbed “the Rachael Ray of flowers,” Cylinder offers plenty of tips and techniques, with an emphasis on naturalism. From a wildflower meadow in a vase to simple nosegays of roses, the book’s bouquets range from the bridal to the more garden-esque.
• “The Plant Lover’s Guide to Clematis,” by Linda Beutler (Timber Press, $24.95).
Beutler lives and gardens in Portland, making her advice and recommendations especially useful for Seattle-area gardeners. Despite her lust for the “Queen of the Vines,” Beutler is a realist. She points out which clematis are most difficult to grow, like C. Florida var. Florida ‘Sieboldiana’. She gives tips and encouragement for these fussier varieties but also recommends easier-to-grow types like the showy Polish clematis and smaller-flowered species. Rich in design ideas and cultivation information, the pages of this book likely will be dog-eared soon. For, as Beutler writes, “No matter what your garden needs, there is likely at least one clematis to fill any niche you require.” Like the other books in “The Plant Lover’s” series, this one boasts a good index, a personal voice and plenty of color photos.
• Timber Press is on a roll, with three more new titles this spring, each a comprehensive look at a genus well-suited to cultivation in the Northwest:
“The Plant Lover’s Guide to Hardy Geraniums,” by Robin Parer ($24.95).
“The Plant Lover’s Guide to Magnolias,” by Andrew Bunting ($24.95).
“The Plant Lover’s Guide to Primulas,” by Jodie Mitchell and Lynne Lawson ($24.95).