We've shown off the fabulous gardens of River Farm, headquarters of the American Horticultural Society - here and here - but it's time to celebrate something else about that august organization - their 2011 book awards. Always a big deal and a high honor, the awards were determined by a jury of seasoned garden writers, so I shouldn't be surprised that year after year, I love these books!
First up is Gardening for a Lifetime by Sydney Eddison. As I said in my review here on this blog, it's not JUST for the over 50 set but for everyone interested in low-maintenance and low-drudgery gardening, for whatever reason. Eddison herself has been able to scale back and slow down without sacrificing beauty at all - and she passes along that wisdom to her readers. She's also a terrifically honest and engaging writer.
Next, Allan Armitage has a large following across North America for his many books and his wildly popular lectures, too. He's especially famous for his research and writing on perennials, but this time has focused his attentions on that most difficult of plant groups - vines and climbers. Seems that they either climb too vigorously or not vigorously enough, so beginners often shy away from them. But with this thorough guide that can be absolutely trusted to steer them right, maybe more gardeners will dare to climb! And not with no-hum plants like English ivy (which should never be allowed to grow UP, only along the ground!) but with glorious flowering vines like Crossvine and American wisteria.
The new edition of Rosalind Creasy's Edible Landscaping was greatly anticipated by vegetable gardeners, so many of whom loved the original 1982 version. This time it's packed with stunning photos of Creasy's own garden and those of scores of others across North America. Also new is the latest advice about the basics - how to garden and with what (not peat moss). And its reach is surprisingly broad, covering organic lawn care, the need to reduce light pollution, the real deal about recycled plastics (they eventually end up in the landfill, anyway), fertilizers even vegans will love, and wildlife, in addition to permaculture, Slow Food, great design, and an exhaustive encyclopedia of edible plants.
The result is more than the modest term "update" conveys. It's a stunning and inspiring book that's also how-to writing at its best. I can't recommend it highly enough.
Finally, a book I haven't yet read but definitely WILL because of this award. It's called From Art to Landscape and because writer Gary Smith is a nationally known designer, whatever he has to say about "Unleashing Creativity in Garden Design," I want to know. Plus, Landscape Architecture Magazine called it "a sheer delight and a celebration of garden design."