Wednesday, July 15, 2009


What a summer. I must have gotten a touch too much sun, because I have started looking around at my yard picturing it with an outdoor patio, a garden bench under the alder, and a large patch of multicolored petunias. In other words, I've been deluded into thinking that this summer is the normal course of events and that my garden should reflect the sunny climate. If you've also started feeling this way, check out our two new books on gardening and landscaping:
Backyards: a Sunset design guide is from the publisher of the popular home magazine Sunset, and it comes complete with a landscape design CD-Rom. Water features, play spaces, outdoor cooking areas, seating niches and pergolas are all laid out in beautiful color photos. This book is not really about the how-to; you won't get lumber dimensions for your pergola or a list of butterfly-friendly plants for your Secret Garden. What you will get is plenty of inspiration, ideas and hints for choosing the designs, materials and layout that works best for you and your family. You probably want to skip the section on outdoor beds (unless you like sleeping in rain gear), and who would want to install a shade canopy in this town? But the sections on garden art, petscaping and greenhouses are very helpful. This book is sure to get your design wheels spinning.
50 High-impact, Low-care Garden Plants: tough-but-beautiful plants anyone can grow is by Tracy DiSabato-Aust, a well-known garden designer who has appeared on Martha Stewart Radio. For each suggested plant variety, she gives general planting information, hints about what other plants go well with it, it's peak time of bloom, and advice on overwintering and pruning. Some of the plants - hostas, bleeding hearts and honeysuckle - do astoundingly well in our climate. The "drought-resistant" selections should probably be considered as a challenge plant here in Ketchikan. Indian Pink and Giant Coneflower may tolerate heat and humidity, but what are they going to do with 98% cloud cover and 5 inches of rain? But it doesn't matter! Because this summer is beautiful, and every summer after this is going to be beautiful, and next year - by golly - I'm gonna plant corn!

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