This Facebook page is about growing plants in a fertilized hay bale. http://www.facebook.com/learntogrowastrawbalegarden?ref=ts&fref=ts One can also go to: http://www.nytimes.com/2013/03/21/garden/grasping-at-straw-a-foolproof-vegetable-plot.html?smid=fb-share&_r=0. I’m intrigued and plan to try this, because I have mostly sandy soil that produces little. The author of the book on Straw Bale Gardening, Joel Karstens, demonstrates on: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=zpOSa3MlgSY&feature=youtu.be&t=54s
From The NY Times, another story about one homeowner’s house plants. Tovah Martin has also written a book on the subject: The Unexpected Houseplant, 2012. See: http://www.nytimes.com/2013/01/31/garden/inviting-the-garden-in-for-the-winter.html?pagewanted=1
Readers’ Picks: Two Experts, Same Advice by Jackie Colthart
Any gardener over sixty-five—or let’s make that any gardener old enough to have an aching back after pulling an all-day weeding marathon—will appreciate Sydney Eddison’s latest gardening book, “Gardening for a Lifetime; How to Garden Wiser as You Grow Older,” which has won the National Garden Clubs’ Award of Excellence. Eddison offers practical, do-able advice about ways to keep your garden—and your back—viable, even if you no longer have the desire or the stamina to spread 100 pounds of mulch in a single morning. Some of Eddison’s wisdom, derived from over fifty years of hands-on digging in New England soil, reminded me of another experienced gardener’s advice, written sixty-six years ago by Vita Sackville-West. What I took home from that book, which I first read fifteen years ago, was this: Fewer perennials, more shrubs. Eddison says the same thing: “My garden became as hard to manage as it did because I was a perfectionist, infatuated with a style and scale of perennial gardening suitable only for the relatively young and very energetic.” She adds, “It would have been far harder to part with so many day lilies had I not taken this opportunity to plant shrubs in their stead.” Sackville-West’s book became a classic, “In Your Garden.” She put it this way: “Those gardeners who desire the maximum of reward with the minimum of labour would be well advised to concentrate upon the flowering shrubs and flowering trees. How deeply I regret that fifteen years ago, when I was forming my own garden, I did not plant these desirable objects in sufficient quantity. They would by now be large adults instead of the scrubby, spindly infants I contemplate with impatience.”
I had the opportunity to visit Sackville-West’s famous garden, Sissinghurst, last year. The “spindly infants” are now fruiting allees, flowering hedges, masses of roses—but it is still Vita’s perennial beds that visitors linger over the longest. The trees and shrubs are still flowering mostly on their own, however, while the perennials are tended by teams of professionals hired by England’s National Trust.
Sydney Eddison knows the difficulties of parting with a gorgeous but back-breaking border, and she doesn’t pretend it’s not a problem emotionally as well as physically. People love what they take care of—or maybe it’s the other way around—and it’s not easy to give up what we love. But the specific ideas in Eddison’s book will help anyone, regardless of age. And unlike Sackville-West’s book, Eddison’s is widely available and written for New Englanders. The book is packed with good ideas for anyone who has thought, Maybe this is getting to be too much. The best thing about both books is that you don’t have to be old to enjoy them.
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Have you read a good gardening book lately? Send us a review of around 500 words, or however long you think it needs to be. We’re interested in gardening classics old and new, whatever tickles your fancy. Address: bcvgardenclub.com/gardenbooks.