"Spring has returned. The Earth is like a child that knows poems." While I am emotionally in full agreement with Rainer Maria Rilke's poetic words on the season, when it comes to plunging my hands into the dirt to see what wonderful partnership I can form with Nature and her bounty--it is what I don't know that comes rushing to mind, muddling my enthusiasm in the confusion of what to do next.
Whether you're interested in beautifying your landscape, planting edibles to munch on, or figuring out what to do with what you grow, books abound. But which ones offer easy-to-absorb advice that quickly get you back outside or whipping up magic in the kitchen?
While the winter months may be a time to read a memoir on gardening, come spring, time is precious. Books heavy on images that are paired with succinct text that's easy to scan can feed your mind, encourage your spirit (this beautiful picture is what I'm working toward!), and ready your hands.
Check out these lists to find books that can help you grow the garden you want (and reap its bounty):
- Landscape Gardening in the Midwest (and Beyond)
- includes The Perennial Care Manual by Nancy J. Ondra, which is a great example of user-friendly gardening book. With mentor-like astuteness, Ondra asks questions on your behalf and then helpfully answers them--offering tips on everything from how to fill in those temporary gaps that newly planted perennials will eventually fill in to which plants to choose if you don't want a lot of maintenance requirements.
- Edible Gardening
includes The Postage Stamp Vegetable Garden by Karen Newcomb, which will set you well on your way to growing a bounty of herbs and veg. While it's light on images (including only a handful of sketches for garden plans), the information is succinct, well laid out, and easy to skim for what you need.
- What to Do With Your Edible Garden Bounty
- includes plenty of great cookbooks to help you harvest, preserve, and cook up your fruit, veg, and herbs, but I wanted to highlight Harvest by Stefani Bittner, which serves up creative uses for 47 garden plants--from facial scrubs to recipes for blooming butter, infused vinegar, and tea.
The library also provides access to eMagazines through RBdigital, including:
- Better Homes & Gardens
- Country Gardens
- Garden Gate
which may have just the inspiration and insight you want for your gardening endeavors.
As Cicero wisely stated (in Latin, of course), "If you have a garden and a library, you have everything you need." While the world-famous British gardener Monty Don (most known to Americans through his delightful and inspiring Netflix show Big Dreams, Small Spaces) says, "A garden is not a place. It's a journey." And like a librarian of the earth, Don sagely reflects, "...it goes back to the garden telling a story. You make up bits and play with them to see if they ring true. Sometimes this works out the first time and all is well and good, but as often as not you have to fiddle and reshape until it is right."
Here's to fiddling, failing, flourishing, and feasting!