Gardening is nothing if not local, says Plant Life columnist Valerie Easton, so you can be sure that the featured plants, techniques and materials suit our climate.
NORTHWEST GARDEN writers are coming on strong this spring, with books on everything from free-range chickens to crafting a pergola of plumbing pipes. Gardening is nothing if not local, so you can be sure that the featured plants, techniques and materials suit our climate. Every one of these authors gardens in the Seattle area — except for Willi Galloway, but Portland qualifies as local.
“Handmade Garden Projects: Step-by-Step Instructions for Creative Garden Features, Containers, Lighting & More,” by Lorene Edwards Forkner (Timber Press, $19.95). My favorite of Forkner’s do-it-yourself projects is a cocktail table fashioned of river rock, corralled in a circle of fencing and topped with tempered glass. Or maybe it’s her earth-friendly ideas for permeable paving, or the mini-orchard growing in a galvanized feed trough. Most of these ideas were incubated in Forkner’s tiny marvel of a garden in West Seattle, so the scale suits urban spaces. Her instructions are practical, her aesthetic pleasingly funky. Allan Mandell’s photos are an added treat.
“Grow Cook Eat: A Food Lover’s Guide to Vegetable Gardening,” by Willi Galloway (Sasquatch Books, $29.95). Galloway’s enthusiasm and expertise inform every page of her first book. Don’t be fooled by the elegant design; this isn’t a book about landscaping with edibles. It’s a down-to-earth look at how to organically and successfully grow your dinner. What makes this book stand out from the hundreds of other new vegetable-gardening books? It’s Galloway’s recommendations for varieties that thrive here, from blueberries to basil. And her eclectic recipes ensure that “Grow Cook Eat” won’t languish on the book shelf. You’ll have it out on the kitchen counter to try Shaved Summer Squash with Pecorino Romano, maybe with Raspberry-Infused Vodka Spritzers.
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“The 50 Mile Bouquet: Seasonal, Local and Sustainable Flowers,” by Debra Prinzing and David E. Perry (St. Lynn’s Press, $17.95). Prinzing followed her love of fresh, organic flowers all the way up the West Coast and to a few points east, interviewing flower farmers and designers, attending weddings and festivities where sumptuous, eco-sensitive bouquets set the tone. Perry captured the people and places she visited in vivid, dreamy photos that do justice to the beauty of the flowers. Prinzing distinguishes between scentless, uniform “factory flowers” and “green” floral design. From do-it-yourself arrangements to the most sophisticated designs, all are created from healthy, local, artful ingredients.
“Landscaping for Privacy: Innovative Ways to Turn Your Outdoor Space into a Peaceful Retreat,” by Marty Wingate (Timber Press, $19.95). If there’s one issue, besides weeds, that every gardener deals with it’s creating a zone of peace and privacy around their homes. Wingate illustrates solutions to a wide variety of privacy issues. While the screens, hedges and gates in the book do the job of creating a safe haven from traffic and neighbors, I wished for more modern designs and urban, small-space examples. Especially useful will be the extensive lists of plants.
“Free-Range Chicken Gardens: How to Create a Beautiful, Chicken-Friendly Yard,” by Jessi Bloom (Timber Press, $19.95). This ode to fowl is by a former Rat City Roller Girl who’s also a mother and award-winning garden designer. Bloom not only showcases her own Mill Creek garden with horses, kids, vegetables and recyclables, but also other Northwest gardens where chickens run free. From chicken training (really?) to the intricacies of coops, Bloom shares her hard-earned knowledge. The photos of chickens happily bustling around are so appealing that even skeptics will have to admit there’s a lovely affinity between gardens and chickens.
Valerie Easton is a Seattle freelance writer and author of “petal & twig.” Check out her blog at www.valeaston.com.