Through the Seasons with The Write Gardener

Through the Seasons with The Write Gardener
by TC Conner

146 pages
Linefork Publishing, 2011
List price: $12.99

Here is a little self-published book that is just the ticket when you want some light reading of a gardening nature. TC speaks in a down-to-earth manner that makes you feel as if the two of you were friends having coffee at the kitchen table. He dispenses gardening advice, but does it in such a manner that you almost don't realize you've learned something by the time you're done reading.

This is a collection of TC's writings from his newspaper column and they're arranged in seasonal order. Full of humor, spirituality, and practicality, they're also punctuated by beautiful black-and-white illustrations by Donald Conner, TC's brother. Writing a book is no small feat and kudos to TC for this accomplishment, but also to his brother, who shares the family's creative talent.

After moving from Kentucky in 1988, TC Connor settled in a small town in western Pennsylvania where he lives and gardens on 3½ acres.  TC is the gardening columnist for Allied News in Grove City, PA and The Herald in Sharon, PA.  He plays lead and rhythm guitar for Mandolin Whiskey in his spare time.

The publication being reviewed in this blog post was the sole compensation for reviewing the product. (Actually, I won it in a contest.) All opinions expressed here are mine. If I like it, I'll say so. If I don't, I'll say that, too.

The Edible Front Yard

The Edible Front Yard: The Mow-Less, Grow-More Plan for a Beautiful, Bountiful Garden
by Ivette Soler

214 pages
Timber Press, 2011
List Price: $19.95

I’ve often wished I had a smaller yard. We live on an acre and while I’m doing my best to fill it up, it’s not likely to happen in my lifetime or on our combined incomes. But I found many of the ideas in The Edible Front Yard to be quite adaptable to larger spaces as well as the smaller ones. Soler uses basic design principles that can be used in any garden - front, side, or back.

Front yard gardens are on the rise, but actually taking the steps to make it happen can be daunting. Ivette Soler leads you through the process by giving creative suggestions as to how to do it without making your home look like an unkempt allotment. Though the book is written with a focus on urban front-yard gardens (her language indicates this), she addresses the concerns that gardeners of all kinds have, when considering making the change from grass to groceries.

Heavily-laden with quality photography that is as inspiring as the text, we’re given plant choices, hardscaping suggestions, and detailed steps on how to get from here to there. I like that she's especially sensitive to the issue of neighborhood, urging gardeners to consider this as well as your home's basic style when creating your garden.

But this isn’t written with the tone of an instructional textbook. Oh no…not with Ivette Soler behind the pen. If you’ve ever run into her, in person or online, you’ll know that mundane, ho-hum communication is not her style. Who else do you know that describes a lettuce seed-head as a “powdery wig?”

Oh, and whatever you do, don’t miss page 152.

Ivette Soler is a garden designer and writer living in Los Angeles, California. Her plant design work for Elysian Landscapes, and her own personal garden, have appeared in magazines such as Metropolitan Home, Sunset, and House & Garden, as well as in several books.

Ivette's garden writing has been featured in Garden Design, Cottage Living, and Budget Living, and she was the resident gardening expert on NBC's The Bonnie Hunt Show. Her popular gardening blog, The Germinatrix, originated in 2006 as a part of Domino magazine; since 2009, Ivette's blog has been thriving independently.

The publication being reviewed in this blog post was the sole compensation for reviewing the product. All opinions expressed here are mine. If I like it, I'll say so. If I don't, I'll say that, too.

The Complete Kitchen Garden

The Complete Kitchen Garden: An Inspired Collection of Garden Designs and 100 Seasonal Recipes
by Ellen Ecker Ogden

256 pages
Stewart, Tabori & Chang, 2011
List price: $24.95

With the resurgence of “growing your own,” this book couldn’t be more timely. From her years of experience and learning from other gardeners, Ellen Ogden shares a unique perspective on the kitchen garden. Recognizing that each garden and gardener is unique, Ogden gives us an assortment of garden designs that are suited to varying interests.

The Four Season Garden is just
one of 14 designs featured in
The Complete Kitchen Garden
Basic gardening information is presented first, and then the real fun begins. Fourteen different garden designs are outlined, each with a different focus. All of the gardens outlined in the book are practical, since they all are composed of edibles, but the gardener’s personality and circumstances are taken into consideration and dictate the focus.

For example, The Artist’s Garden gives attention to aesthetics, using the physical characteristics of the edibles such as color and texture. The Patio Garden showcases growing edibles in containers. The Garnish Garden introduces edible flowers into the mix, giving an entirely different look to the kitchen garden.

Recipes using each particular garden’s suggested vegetables, fruits, or herbs are given, so the garden-to-table journey is complete.  Out of The Family Garden comes a Vermont Carrot Cake with Maple Frosting. Or how about a Fresh Strawberry Crème Tart?

What I really love about this book is that it gives such a variety of designs that my kitchen garden can have a new look every year for the next fourteen years. That gets me excited about growing beans and peas again.

Ellen Ecker Ogden is co-founder of The Cook's Garden seed catalog, America's premier source for seeds and plants (now owned by W. A. Burpee Co.). She is the author of From the Cook's Garden and The Vermont Cheese Book. Her kitchen garden has been featured in national magazines including Martha Stewart Living, Country Gardens, Organic Gardening, Horticulture, the Boston Globe and the New York Times, and she has been a guest on PBS’s Victory Garden and on HGTV. She lives in Vermont.

The publication being reviewed in this blog post was the sole compensation for reviewing the product. All opinions expressed here are mine. If I like it, I'll say so. If I don't, I'll say that, too.