Category Archives: Books

Peg’s Picks: February 2018 New Gardening Books

It is amazing to me how many gardening books are published in our country. These are new gardening books that have been or will be published in the month of February. As with my Peg’s Picks of monthly gardening events, this is my Peg’s Picks of books — a collection of what I have heard from colleagues as well as what I have read on publishers’ sites. Click on the publisher’s name for a description. Previous Peg’s Picks are at the “New Books: 2018“tab.

Practical Houseplant Book by Zia Allaway and Fran Bailey, DK Publishing

Grow Something Different to Eat: Weird and Wonderful Heirloom Fruits and Vegetables for Your Garden by Matthew Biggs, DK Publishing

How to Window Box: Small-Space Plants to Grow Indoors or Out by Chantal Aida Gordon and Ryan Benoit (founders of The Horticult, a blog), Penguin Random House

Our Native Bees: America’s Endangered Pollinators and the Fight to Save Them by Paige Embry, Timber Press

Designing with Palms by Jason Dewees and Photographs by Caitlin Atkinson, Timber Press

The Less Is More Garden: Big Ideas for Designing Your Small Yard by Susan Morrison, Timber Press

The Flower-Powered Garden: Supercharge Your Borders and Containers with Bold Colorful Plant Combinations by Andy Vernon, Timber Press

Gardening Complete: How to Best Grow Vegetables, Flowers, and Outdoor Plants by the authors of Cool Springs Press (eight authors)

Veggie Garden Remix: 224 New Plants to Shake up Your Garden and Add Variety of Flavor and Fun by Niki Jabbour, Storey Publishing

The Budget-Wise Gardener with Hundreds of Money-Saving Buying and Design Tips for Planting the Best for Less, by Kerry Ann Mendez, St. Lynn’s Press

Garden Builder: Complete Plans for Outdoor Projects You Can Build by JoAnne Moser, Cool Springs Press

Discovering New Gardening Products at the Mid-Atlantic Nursery Trade Show

As mentioned in my January 14th article, last week I attended the Mid-Atlantic Nursery Trade Show (MANTS), an annual horticulture trade show at the Baltimore Convention Center.  MANTS is one of the largest shows with over 10,000 attendees and almost a thousand companies exhibiting at booths in the Convention Center. Almost all the companies are wholesale, they are not selling directly to customers or to press such as myself. However, I enjoy attending because it provides me a glimpse of new products and plants and trends in the gardening world.

There were a few products that caught my eye and although the companies attended MANTS for wholesale orders, these companies below said they sell directly to gardeners through their websites.

Through a fellow Garden Writers Association member Ruth Rogers Clausen, I met Dorian Winslow, president of Womanswork, a women-owned, family business in New York.  Womanswork specializes in gloves that fit well for women (although they also sell gloves for men), gardening aprons, raffia and cotton hats, gardening tools, and related items such as hand cream and poison ivy soap. This company sells to garden centers and online directly to gardeners. For over 30 years, they have been specializing in gloves designed to fit women’s hands. Ruth attested to that, she has been using the products for so many years, she is even featured in their catalog. Not only was Dorian a delightful person to talk with but I also found out that she was interviewed recently by one of my favorite podcasters, Jennifer Jewell of Cultivating Place.

I also had the pleasure of seeing Mark Highland again, owner of Organic Mechanics Soil Company, a manufacturer and distributor of premier organic and peat-free potting soils and soil amendments in Pennsylvania. Gardeners can buy products from the site or search the retailer locator for stores. Mark gave a presentation at the Garden Bloggers Fling in June and generously gave us samples of Fuhgeddaboudit! Root Zone Feeder Packs. These small packages of fertilizer, mycorrhizae, biochar, azomite, and micronized oyster shell are placed under or next to a plant’s root ball when planting to help the plant get established. At MANTS, he gave a presentation on Biochar Blend, a bag of biochar, compost, worm castings, bone char, azomite, zeolite, alfalfa meal, and kelp meal. Biochar is highly porous carbon that improves nutrition absorption and provides a permanent home for beneficial soil biology. Biochar can help boost yields and increase the effectiveness of plants’ growth — the best part is that it only has be applied once and will last a lifetime. Mark also published Practical Organic Gardening: The No-Nonsense Guide to Growing Naturally (Cool Springs Press, 2017).

One company that was new to me was City Farmer USA, based in Nevada. Bruce Lebish, president, explained that his company sells raised, plastic planters that gardeners could order directly from their website. They have to be assembled (the instructions on their website look simple) and the models they had at MANTS were black with a strong oriental/bamboo texture because of their woven sides. 

Apparently this woven side is a patented ventilation design that promotes healthy root systems and the patented base retain water. The basket (where you put the soil and plants) is either 16 inches high from the ground or 30 inches, eliminating the need to bend down (may also be wheelchair friendly). There are different sizes and if you buy a few configurations and line them up they would create a very beautiful container appearance on a deck or patio.

More new products and plants in future articles!

Peg’s Picks: January 2018 New Gardening Books

Many of you are familiar with my Peg’s Picks of monthly gardening events which I post on my site at the end of each month and on the tab “Classes, Events.” With the new year, I am starting Peg’s Picks of gardening books. This will be posted each month on my site and in the new tab “New Books: 2018.”

I deliberately use “Peg’s Picks” to imply that these are not all gardening books but rather a subset: for adults (i.e., not children’s books), about gardening, and likely about gardening in this area of the world. These books are a collection of what I have heard about from colleagues and read about on publishers’ sites with a link to the publisher’s description of the book. If you have a book that will be published soon, please contact me and I would be happy to list it.

The following books have been or will be published in January 2018. Stay tuned for February’s list which is quite a bit longer!

The Bonsai Beginner’s Bible: The Definitive Guide to Choosing and Growing Bonsai by Peter Chan, publisher is Mitchell Beazley

The New Seed-Starters Handbook by Nancy Bubel and Jean Nick, revised, publisher is Rodale Books

Rodale’s Ultimate Encyclopedia of Organic Gardening: the Indispensable Green Source for Every Gardener edited by Fern Marshall Brady, Barbara W. Ellis, and Ellen Phillips with Deborah L. Martin, publisher is Rodale Books

An Abundance of Flowers: More Great Flower Breeders of the Past by Judith M. Taylor, publisher is Swallow Press

The Colorful Dry Garden: Over 100 Flowers and Vibrant Plants for Drought, Desert and Dry Times by Maureen Gilmer, publisher is Sasquatch Books

What’s the Perfect Holiday Gift for Gardeners? Award-Winning Gardening Books!

If you are looking for a holiday gift for the gardener in your life, look to the American Horticultural Society’s (AHS) award winning books for 2017. For more than two decades, the AHS has recognized outstanding gardening books published in North America with its annual book award program. AHS is an educational, non-profit organization dedicated to making America a nation of gardeners, a land of gardens. Books are judged by the AHS Book Award Committee on qualities such as writing style, authority, originality, accuracy, and design quality. This year’s five recipients are:

Contact your local bookstore to purchase.  For more information about the awards program and books that have received awards in past years, visit www.ahsgardening.org/awards.

*Thomas Christopher does not have a website at this time but he is on Facebook.

Book Review: The Chinese Kitchen Garden by Wendy Kiang-Spray

februarygardenkids2017-042The day that Wendy launched her new book at Politics and Prose in DC, I was at home reading about her life. Normally I skip the preface of any book but this time I enjoyed reading Wendy’s journey into gardening, which began when she became a mother, and her parents’ journey from China to Maryland, resulting in a successful business and a large vegetable garden. The Chinese Kitchen Garden is Wendy’s first book, a sublime integration of gardening and Chinese cooking. Divided into the four seasons, her book melds her own gardening advice on growing Asian vegetables with her parent’s ability to incorporate such vegetables into classic Chinese cuisine.

Wendy features 38 vegetables that are either native to China, commonly thought of as Chinese, or play a role in China’s culinary world. Each plant is labeled with its common and botanical names, Chinese transliterations, and pronunciations in Cantonese and Mandarin. Wendy describes the plant’s general use in the kitchen such as side dishes, entrees, soups, and salads and gardening methods for this area. Throughout the book are 20 family recipes incorporating the vegetables grown in her and her parent’s garden. Published by Timber Press, this book has excellent graphic elements such as Chinese characters, plenty of colored photographs, and easy-to-read sidebars plus resources for recommended reading, websites for more information, and companies that sell plants and seeds.

The first chapter, Spring, provides instruction on improving the soil, Chinese intensive beds, raised garden beds, container gardening, composting, and seed sowing. Wendy provides information on growing and cooking bamboo shoots, garland chrysanthemum, garlic chives, a variety of peas, and watercress. Recipes include “Bamboo Shoots and Pork Belly Braised in Sweet Soy Sauce” and “Stir-fried Flowering Chive with Roasted Duck.”

Summer addresses the typical problems of pests, diseases, weeds, and the need to water.  Wendy covers a variety of beans and greens, amaranth, bitter melon, bottle gourd, bunching onions, Chinese cucumbers, Chinese eggplants, Chinese peppers, daylily buds, fuzzy melon, and luffa gourd.  Recipes include “Bottle Gourd and Chicken Stir-fry” and “Long Beans with Garlic and Preserved Olives.”

Fall involves succession planting, seed saving, food preservation, and cleanup chores.  This chapter describes how to grow and cook with a choy, bok choy, choy sum, cilantro, gailan, ginger, kabocha, mustard greens, napa cabbage, radishes, stem lettuce, taro root, tatsoi, water chestnut, and winter melon. Recipes include “Kabocha with Ground Pork in Black Bean Sauce” and “Steamed Sea Bass with Cilantro, Ginger, and Scallions.” Several pages are devoted to her father’s signature dumplings with a recipe for “Crab, Pork and Napa Cabbage Dumplings.”

The story ends with Winter: techniques to extend the season, including cold frames, row covers, hoop houses, and cloches; growing cold-hardy vegetables; planning for the next year; and growing sprouts and microgreens indoors.

Throughout The Chinese Kitchen Garden, Wendy tells stories about her family: her husband and daughters, her father and mother, and her sister and her family. She has a very relaxed, easy-to-read style, as if she were chatting at the kitchen table, surrounded by her family. Those who are new to gardening will find this book to be a great introduction to growing Chinese vegetables in the Washington DC metropolitan area while those who are interested in cooking will be inspired to try the delicious recipes. Wendy provides more information on her website, wendykiangspray.com, her blog, greenishthumb.net, and on her Facebook page, The Chinese Kitchen Garden. This coming Saturday, February 18, Wendy will speak about her book at Rooting DC, an annual event in Washington DC.

Give an Award-Winning Gardening Book for the Holidays

9781604695533r A great source of gift ideas for the gardeners in your life is the American Horticultural Society’s annual book award program. The American Horticultural Society is an educational, non-profit organization dedicated to making America a nation of gardeners, a land of gardens.  Over the last two decades, they have been recognizing outstanding gardening books published in North America. Books are judged by the AHS Book Award Committee on qualities such as writing style, authority, originality, accuracy, and design quality. The five recipients for 2016 are:

  • The Art of Gardening by the Chanticleer Gardeners and R. William Thomas (Timber Press)
  • How Plants Work by Linda Chalker-Scott (Timber Press)
  • Planting in a Post-Wild World by Thomas Rainer and Claudia West (Timber Press)
  • The Seed Garden edited by Lee Buttala and Shanyn Siegel, with contributors Micaela Colley and Jared Zystro (Seed Savers Exchange)
  • Seeing Seeds by Robert Llewellyn and Teri Dunn Chace (Timber Press)

9781604693386rThe 2016 Book Award Committee was comprised of the following seven members: Jeff Cox, a garden communicator and designer in Sonoma County, CA; Rita Hassert, a botanical librarian at the Morton Arboretum in Lisle, IL; Susan Hines, a garden communicator in Hyattsville, MD; Jim Long, garden communicator and owner of Long Creek Nursery in Blue Eye, MO; Mary Ann Newcomer, a garden communicator in Boise, ID; Doug Oster, a garden columnist for the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette and radio personality based in Pennsylvania, PA; and Anne Marie Van Nest, a garden communicator and horticulturist in the Niagara Falls area of New York.

Peg’s Picks: July 2016 Gardening Events in the Washington DC Metro Area

These are Peg’s Picks of local gardening events in July. July may be hot but it is a busy time in the garden as well as in the Washington DC metro gardening world. If it gets too hot for you, cool down inside with Lisa Mason Ziegler’s free, virtual Cool Flowers book study (see last entry).

2, Saturday, The Summer’s Best Hydrangeas, lecture, 11:00 am, Free, Behnke Nurseries Garden Center, 11300 Baltimore Avenue, Beltsville, MD. (301) 937-1100. http://www.behnkes.com

5, Tuesday, Simpson Gardens Stroll, 11:00 am to noon, 426 E. Monroe Avenue by the YMCA in Alexandria, VA. Free and hosted by Master Gardeners of Northern Virginia. http://www.mgnv.org

6, Wednesday, Pollination, Pollinator, and Flowers, 7:00 to 9:00 pm. Wednesdays in the Garden Series at the Arlington Central Library, 1015 N. Quincy Street, Arlington, VA. Taught by Arlington Food Assistance Center volunteers and VCE Master Gardeners, free, no registration required. Library phone and website:  http://www.library.arlingtonva.us (703) 228-5990. http://www.mgnv.org

7, Thursday, Growing Flowers Using Organic Methods: Walking Tour of a Local Cut Flower Farm with Barbara Lambone at Greenstone Fields, 38223 John Wolford Road, Purcellville, VA, (will be cancelled if rains). Free, 7:00 pm., Hosted by Loudoun County Master Gardeners. http://www.loudouncountymastergardeners.org

7, Thursday, Totally Tomatoes, tomato cooking demonstration with the Cook Sisters, Free, do not have to register in advance. Held at noon and 12:45 and also presented on July 28. U.S. Botanic Garden, 245 First Street, SW, Washington DC. (202) 225-8333. http://www.usbg.gov

7, Thursday, Getting Your Orchid to Re-Bloom, 12:15 to 12:45, East Walk of the Smithsonian Enid A. Haupt Garden, Smithsonian, Washington DC.  Part of the Let’s Talk Garden Series on Thursdays, hosted by Smithsonian Gardens horticulturists, free. (202) 633-2220. http://www.gardens.si.edu

9, Saturday, Bring the Shade Garden to Life with Perennials, lecture, 11:00 am. Free. Behnke Nurseries Garden Center, 11300 Baltimore Avenue, Beltsville, MD. (301) 937-1100. http://www.behnkes.com

9, Saturday, Saturday in the Garden “Compost Happens”, 10:00 am to noon. Free talk at Loudoun County Master Gardeners Demonstration Garden in Ida Lee Park, Leesburg, VA. Hosted by Loudoun County Master Gardeners. http://www.loudouncountymastergardeners.org

9, Saturday, Jam Preserve Workshop, 9:30 to 2:30. Franciscan Monastery of the Holy Land, 1400 Quincy Street NE Washington DC, Fee and must register. (The Monastery has extensive gardens and gives free garden tours on Saturdays at 11:00 am and noon, until September, meet in front of visitor center). E-mail gardenguild@gmail.comhttp://www.fmgg.org.

10, Sunday, The Birth of a Rain Garden: From Start to Finish, 11:00 am. Free. Behnke Nurseries Garden Center, 11300 Baltimore Avenue, Beltsville, MD. (301) 937-1100. http://www.behnkes.com

12, Tuesday, Bearded Iris Care, lecture by staff horticulturists, 9:30 am. Free for Ladew members; fee for non-members; registration required. Ladew Topiary Gardens, 3535 Jarrettsville Pike, Monkton, MD. (410) 557-9570 ext. 261, e-mail rhebert@ladewgardens.com. http://www.ladewgardens.com

13, Wednesday, Marvelous ‘matoes, a tomato cooking demonstration by the Cook Sisters. Fee and must register. Brookside Gardens, 1800 Glenallan Avenue, Wheaton, MD. (301) 962-1470. http://www.brooksidegardens.org

13, Wednesday, Lasagna Gardens: The Layered Approach, 7:00 to 9:00 pm. Wednesdays in the Garden Series at the Arlington Central Library, 1015 N. Quincy Street, Arlington, VA. Taught by Arlington Food Assistance Center volunteers and VCE Master Gardeners, free, no registration required. Library phone and website:  http://www.library.arlingtonva.us (703) 228-5990. http://www.mgnv.org

14, Thursday, Rejuvenate the Midsummer Herb Garden, 7:00 to 8:30 pm. Burke Branch Library, 4701 Seminary Road, Alexandria, VA; Hosted by Master Gardeners of Northern Virginia. Free but must register in advance. http://www.mgnv.org

14, Thursday, Home Irrigation, 12:15 to 12:45, East Walk of the Smithsonian Enid A. Haupt Garden, Smithsonian, Washington DC.  Part of the Let’s Talk Garden Series on Thursdays, hosted by Smithsonian Gardens horticulturists, free. (202) 633-2220. http://www.gardens.si.edu

16, Saturday, Lotus and Water Lily Festival, 10:00 to 4:00 pm, Free, Kenilworth Park and Aquatic Gardens, 1550 Anacostia Avenue, NE Washington DC. http://www.nps.gov/keaq/index.html

16, Saturday, Lavender Wand Making Workshop, 10:00 am to noon. Free. Franciscan Monastery of the Holy Land, 1400 Quincy Street NE Washington DC. (The Monastery has extensive gardens and gives free garden tours on Saturdays at 11:00 am and noon, until September, meet in front of visitor center). E-mail gardenguild@gmail.com. http://www.fmgg.org

16, Saturday, Tips for a Happy Garden: Mulching, Watering and Protecting Your Plants from the Heat, 11:00 am. Free. Behnke Nurseries Garden Center, 11300 Baltimore Avenue, Beltsville, MD. (301) 937-1100. http://www.behnkes.com

16, Saturdays in the Garden, Getting your Lawn, Landscape, and Vegetable Garden Ready for the Fall, 9:00 am to noon. The Teaching Garden at the Benedictine Monastery, 9535 Linton Hall Road, Bristow, VA. Presented by Prince William County Master Gardeners. Outside, dress appropriate. Free but must register. http://www.mgpw.org

16, Saturday, Native Trees and Shrubs for Home Gardens, 10:00 to 11:30 am. Fee and must register. Presentation by Green Spring staff horticulturist. Green Spring Gardens, 4603 Green Spring Road, Alexandria, VA. (703) 642-5173. http://www.fairfaxcounty.gov/parks/greenspring/

17, Sunday, The Benefits, Beauty and Diversity of Perennial Groundcovers, 1:00 pm. Free. Behnke Nurseries Garden Center, 11300 Baltimore Avenue, Beltsville, MD. (301) 937-1100. http://www.behnkes.com

17, Sunday, Sunday in the Organic Vegetable Garden, 1:00 to 4:00 pm. Potomac Overlook Regional Park, 2845 Marcey Road, Arlington, VA. Free and hosted by the Master Gardeners of Northern Virginia. http://www.mgnv.org

20, Wednesday, Grow Your Own Cutting Garden and Old Fashioned Flower Show, 7:30 to 9:00 pm. Free and open to the public. Takoma Horticulture Club, 7328 Carroll Avenue, Takoma, MD. http://www.takomahort.org.

20, Wednesday, Seed Saving, 7:00 to 9:00 pm. Wednesdays in the Garden Series at the Arlington Central Library, 1015 N. Quincy Street, Arlington, VA. Taught by Arlington Food Assistance Center volunteers and VCE Master Gardeners, free, no registration required. Library phone and website:  http://www.library.arlingtonva.us (703) 228-5990. http://www.mgnv.org

21, Thursday, Composting Basics, 12:15 to 12:45, East Walk of the Smithsonian Enid A. Haupt Garden, Smithsonian, Washington DC.  Part of the Let’s Talk Garden Series on Thursdays, hosted by Smithsonian Gardens horticulturists, free. (202) 633-2220. http://www.gardens.si.edu

23 and 24, Saturday and Sunday, 27th Annual Montgomery County Farm Tour and Harvest Sale, times vary, depend on the farm, 21 farms involved, check out web site for farms, times, and map. http://www.montgomerycountymd.gov/agservices/agfarmgtour.html

23, Saturday, A Survey of Shade Trees, 11:00 am. Free. Behnke Nurseries Garden Center, 11300 Baltimore Avenue, Beltsville, MD. (301) 937-1100. http://www.behnkes.com

27, Wednesday, Soil Building, Composting, Compost Tea, 7:00 to 9:00 pm. Wednesdays in the Garden Series at the Arlington Central Library, 1015 N. Quincy Street, Arlington, VA. Taught by Arlington Food Assistance Center volunteers and VCE Master Gardeners, free, no registration required. Library phone and website:  http://www.library.arlingtonva.us (703) 228-5990. http://www.mgnv.org

28, Thursday, Totally Tomatoes, tomato cooking demonstration with the Cook Sisters, Free, do not have to register in advance. Held at noon and 12:45 and again on July 7. U.S. Botanic Garden, 245 First Street, SW, Washington DC. (202) 225-8333. http://www.usbg.gov

28, Thursday, All Things Lavender, 12:15 to 12:45, East Walk of the Smithsonian Enid A. Haupt Garden, Smithsonian, Washington DC.  Part of the Let’s Talk Garden Series on Thursdays, hosted by Smithsonian Gardens horticulturists, free. (202) 633-2220. http://www.gardens.si.edu

30, Saturday, Lecture: Mints: Their Botany, Chemistry, and Uses, 10:30 to noon. Free but must register in advance. U.S. Botanic Garden, 245 First Street, SW, Washington DC. (202) 225-8333. http://www.usbg.gov

30, Saturday, Spicing Up Your Gardens and Containers from Now through Fall, 11:00. Free. Behnke Nurseries Garden Center, 11300 Baltimore Avenue, Beltsville, MD. (301) 937-1100. http://www.behnkes.com

30, Saturday, Honey Extraction Workshop, 9:30 to noon and noon to 2:30 (two sessions, register for one and there is a fee). Franciscan Monastery of the Holy Land, 1400 Quincy Street NE Washington DC. (The Monastery has extensive gardens and gives free garden tours on Saturdays at 11:00 am and noon, until September, meet in front of visitor center).  E-mail: gardenguild@gmail.com. http://www.fmgg.org

Summer Garden Workshop Series in DC

DC Parks and Recreation has a Summer Garden Workshop Series. More than 50 free workshops every Monday, Wednesday and various Saturdays from April 18th to September 28th. Focused on practical urban gardening and taught by the leaders of DC urban garden movement. Monday Classes: 6:30-8:30pm – Deanwood Rec – 1350 49th St. NE; Wednesday Classes: 6:30-8:30pm – Raymond Rec – 3725 10th St. NE; Saturday Classes: 10-12pm – Times and locations vary.  Check registration for more details:
http://bit.ly/UrbanGardeningPrograms

A full schedule flyer is at this link
http://dpr.dc.gov/node/1124742

For more info about all DPR Urban Garden Programs click on this link
http://dpr.dc.gov/service/urban-garden-programs

 Cool Flowers Virtual Book Study

Lisa Mason Ziegler, owner of The Gardener’s Workshop in Newport News, VA, is hosting a virtual book study for her book Cool Flowers: How to Grow and Enjoy Long Blooming Hardy Annual Flowers Using Cool Weather Techniques. Starting Friday July 15, she will teach how to grow hardy annuals (flowers) such as bells of Ireland, snapdragons, and sweet peas. Each Friday for 10 weeks (1 week for each chapter), she will show a short video and answer questions. There is no fee and it is not required to have the book although it will certainly be beneficial to read along. If you are like me and work on Fridays, you can sign up at her web site to have the weekly links sent to your e-mail or you can visit the web site any time. Lisa has been a cut flower farmer since 1998 and has built a very successful business. She produces 10,000 stems each week during the growing season on 1 ½ acres. She has written several books, sells seeds and supplies, hosts workshops, and gives presentations across the county.