Diggin' It: Armchair gardening

Grace Peterson recommends these books to prepare yourself for the upcoming gardening season.

With spring right around the corner, now is a great time to bone up on gardening practices and perhaps garner inspiration for a new project.

Maybe you have a question: Why didn’t my fuchsia bloom like it should have? Or what should I grow in that bare spot where I took out the dead shrub?

I like to call it “armchair gardening.” You know, when the weather outside is frightful but we’re itching to garden. To satisfy ourselves, we cozy up with a stack of garden books. This month, I thought I’d discuss a few of the fantastic books that are on my desk right now.

“Perennials Through the Seasons: 20 favorites that are striking in and out of flower” is written by gardener and blogger John Markowski. With photos and prose, Markowski discusses in practical detail (foibles and all) perennials that thrive in his New Jersey garden. Fortunately, his information is equally relevant here in the Pacific Northwest and is especially helpful if you’re new to gardening or unfamiliar with one of the perennials discussed. I appreciate seeing photos of plants at different stages of growth and how well Markowski recounts his own growing experiences. Rumor has it he’s working on a second book. Visit obsessiveneuroticgardener.com for more information.

“Pacific Northwest Month-By-Month Gardening: What to Do Each Month to Have a Beautiful Garden All Year,” by Christina Pfeiffer and Mary Robson, is laid out with chapters for each month of the year with details on specific garden chores for that month. But first, the book’s extensive introduction outlines the basics of gardening from proper soil preparation to water-saving tactics to microclimates and more — great information for the newbie as well as the seasoned gardener desiring a refresher course. This is a fantastic resource for month-to-month garden management and both authors have an impressive Pacific Northwest resume, including tenures at Washington State University Extension Service. (Cool Springs Press)

Finally, if you’ve been gardening for a long time, (or even if you haven’t been) you need to read Barbara Blossom Ashmun’s latest book, “Love Letters to My Garden.” This is not so much a how-to tome (although she does offer advice) as it is an anecdote to her fascination with plants and all things gardening while tending her beloved paradise in Portland.

What I love about this book is that it is so relatable. Although no two gardeners will agree on everything, Ashmun’s words will resonate deeply. Many times, I found myself nodding in agreement, thinking of my own similar experiences with gardening.

For example, who hasn’t forgotten the name of that intriguing plant we fell in love with because we neglected to write it down? Or thinking you hear the words “buy me” emanating from a gorgeous plant at the nursery, despite knowing full well we don’t have room for it? “You can keep me in a pot so I won’t get so big,” you think it responds to you. Yep, been there, done that.

For those of us who love gardening, this book will validate our obsessive behaviors and reassure us that we’re in good company. You can see all of her books by searching her name on Amazon.com.

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