I read surprisingly few gardening books, maybe because after all these years I think - what could be new?  So I'm pleasantly surprised when I come across a new book that does seem new, at least to me, and here are three that I actually read and enjoyed.

Gardening for a Lifetime by Sydney Eddison 

This may seem like a book for older gardeners, but it's not.  It's for low-mobility and low-maintenance gardeners of all types - and doesn't that include most of us?  And this long-time gardener covers not just the usual ways to garden with less physical strain - raised beds - but tips we don't usually see, like switching out perennials and annuals for shrubs, and how to find hired help.

Favorite quotes?  "It took a great deal of effort to make my garden as high-maintenance as it is," and she "loved digging great big holes and moving plants around all the time.  That was the point of it all.” So it's due entirely to annoying developments like hip replacement surgery that Eddison even considered switching to low-maintenance gardening.

Eddison is also simply a delight to read.  Honest writing from someone who's been there, but doesn't pretend she knows better than anyone else.  Now I'll have to check out her five previous books.

I had the chance to chat with Eddison by phone and was so taken with her, I'm bound and determined to visit her and her garden...somewhere in Connecticut.

Energy-Wise Landscape Design by Sue Reed 

Doubtful at first that I needed a whole book to tell me to grow shade trees, I was surprised to find that Energy-Wise Landscape Design covers the whole waterfront of eco-gardening -

buying locally grown plants, avoiding peatmoss, conserving water, improving the soil, filling our gardens with as many large, healthy plants as possible, and more.  All very thorough, readable, and practical, from a Massachusetts garden designer.

My favorite part of the book is the large section dealing with lawns - a hot topic today. Reed's message isn't anti-lawn but simply: Why have more than you need? And if you DO have lawn, her "Five Problems with Conventional Lawn Treatment" might inspire you to switch to the more natural lawn care she promotes.

Garden Bouquets and Beyond by Suzy Bales


I swear, I'd never once shown an interest in flower arranging, but this engaging writer and speaker changed that.   In this book Suzy Bales turns readers on to some very cool and unconventional techniques for arranging, in addition to covering garlands, mock topiaries, mini-trees, and how to coax buds to open.  And she uses not just the predictable flowers but also vines, foliage, shrubs and tree branches.  I've long been a fan of Bales's writing (starting with her Down to Earth Gardener) and this, her fourth book, didn't disappoint.

And Bales is one garden writer whose garden I HAVE actually seen - just this summer I visited her and her Long Island garden. So how about sometime this winter when we're starved for color we take a tour through Suzy's garden - and then tour all the other awesome New York gardens she showed me over two action-packed days of touring? Okay, it's a date.

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