Bulb Forcing For Beginners and the Seriously Smitten

by Art Wolk

255 pages, hardcover
AAB Book Publishing Company LLC, 2012
List price: $32.95

Gardeners are known to force bulbs into bloom during the dark days of winter, especially gardeners who live in the northern climates. The splash of color that rewards us as we somehow feel in control of nature and have tricked spring into coming early bolsters our dreary mood. Art Wolk, in his new book, Bulb Forcing For Beginners and the Seriously Smitten, does the same thing.

Being called “the Dave Barry of garden writing” (by Elvin McDonald) isn’t far from the truth. His sharp wit and playful look at the world of bulbs can make even the most serious of gardeners grin, and frankly, the gardening world can use more like him. But Wolk knows his stuff, too.

With a list of credentials as high as a paper white’s eye (higher, if you use his alcohol trick to shorten the growth of their stems), you might think him to be a staid bore, what with all that education and all those awards. Far from it; Art Wolk is the quintessential educator. He’s the professor that endears himself to you and makes you want to do well for all the right reasons.

As if his ability to teach us the ins and outs of forcing bulbs isn’t enough, he is also an accomplished photographer and Bulb Forcing is full of more than 350 of his beautiful images. Many are so beautiful, they just might be enough to get you through the winter without actually “forcing/coaxing/persuading/enticing/charming” a bulb yourself. But by the time Art gets done with you, you’ll already be out the door and on your way to the garden center to find some. Yeah, you’re gonna want some of that for your very own.

P.S. Why can't all gardening books be this fun?

Art Wolk is an award-winning writer, lecturer, photographer, and Grand Sweepstakes winner at the famed Philadelphia Flower Show.

Art has appeared on the Discovery Channel, CBS, FOX, and the Home and Garden TV Network, and has been interviewed on radio stations throughout the United States, including National Public Radio. In addition, he has lectured at such prominent institutions and events as Longwood Gardens, the Boston Flower and Garden Show, the Pennsylvania Horticultural Society, and the Philadelphia International Flower Show.

His magazine articles have appeared in Better Homes and Gardens, Fine Gardening, Green Scene, Green Prints, and other publications. In 1991 Art founded, and for nine years managed, a children’s garden in New Jersey. In 1999, he received the prestigious Quill and Trowel Award from the Garden Writers Association for a magazine article he wrote about the garden.

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


Barnheart: The Incurable Longing for a Farm of One’s Own
by Jenna Woginrich

184 pages
Storey Publishing, 2011
List price: $14.95

Memoirs are my favorite kind of gardening  books to read. They’re chock full of experiences I can relate to, because the authors let us in on the trials and tribulations they endure in their quest to live the life of a gardener. (Or farmer. Or shepherd.) I enjoy reading them even if I don’t share the particular focus of the author. Many aspects of farming and gardening and animal husbandry overlap enough to allow me to learn something from any one of them.

In her third book, Barnheart: The Incurable Longing for a Farm of One’s Own, Jenna Woginrich takes us along on her move from one side of the country to another. We’re right there with her as she struggles to carve her place in the countryside of Vermont and fulfill her dream of owning her own flock of sheep, and a farm to raise them on. None of this comes easily for a single young (20-something) woman, and money is always an issue. (Who can’t relate to that?)

While things may not always turn out the way she’d like, Woginrich perseveres and has us cheering her on as she attempts to find the cure for “barnheart.”

I’m not brave at all. I’m just terrified of regret.”
~ Jenna Woginrich

Jenna Woginrich is a 20-something homesteader and the author of BarnHeart, Chick Days, and Made from Scratch. She blogs at Cold Antler Farm, as well as Mother Earth News and The Huffington Post. A Pennsylvania native, she has made her home in the mountains of Tennessee, in northern Idaho, in rural Vermont, and most recently in upstate New York, where she lives with a flock of Scottish Blackface sheep, a border collie in training, chickens and geese, a hive of bees, and several amiable rabbits.

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