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Allan designs and plants flowering gardens in Montreal, Zone 5 [USDA Zone 4] .

See website, design work and favorite flowering plants at  gardengurumontreal.ca

Consultation and coaching for do-it-yourselfers is provided. Occasional emailed questions are welcome and answered free of charge. Oui, je parle francais.

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Entries in all season gardens (2)

Wednesday
Apr272011

Planting All Season Gardens in Pots; a book review for Bookpleasures.com

Continuous Container Gardens, Sara Begg Townsend & Roanne Robbins, Storey Publishing,                                   ISBN 978-1-60342-702-9

Right from the first page, the authors declare that a container garden is better than a large flower bed because with containers, the gardener can focus on less and do more with it. For example, deadheading a container garden takes 30 seconds if done a few times a week. Furthermore, because pots are closer to eye level, they make it easier to appreciate individual plants. The restricted amount of gardening surface also teaches and inspires the gardener to become a better editor and a better designer.

Traditional gardeners better hold onto their hats because this book will provide a roller coaster of a ride as the authors present a new treatment for an established style of gardening. According to the publisher, the authors submit

 …an innovative system for creating stylish container gardens that can change with the seasons with a minimum of fuss. They begin with a “main-stage” plant — a woody plant, garden ornament, or eye-catching perennial – and then add a secondary player for texture and variety. As the seasons change, they show how easy it is to swap plants in and out for a dynamic display that looks great year-round. Their simple approach yields endless variations, seasonal bursts of color, and varied textures that echo the ever-changing beauty of nature. The book features designs for twelve containers, each with a unique plan for swapping plants every season, for a total of 48 exciting looks.

Essential to the theme of this book is that for container gardens to be sustaining, annuals won’t do. The continuous container garden is less of a colorful floral composition and more of a mini-garden inspired by the nature surrounding a home. To that end, the focus is on perennials and their foliage, ornamental and evergreen shrubs, and ornamental trees that grow less than 25 feet tall. Pretty flowers are considered a bonus, a small decorative splash..

However, one of the requisites of this philosophy of container planting is that one must be prepared to move plants in and out of containers as the seasons dictate. In addition, trees and shrubs might require their roots to be trimmed in order for them to remain pot – friendly, as they mature. Some perennials will require dividing. Therefore, while this innovative form of miniature gardening is refreshing, it is not targeting the busy multi-tasking homeowner. For as little work as it takes to maintain these pots, there is a greater commitment to transform them as the season changes. Dedicated and passionate gardeners, with time on their hands, will be delighted with the results.

                                           

Friday
Jul022010

The Nonstop Garden Offers Four Seasons of Pleasure: Book Review for Bookpleasures.com

The Nonstop Garden, Stephanie Cohen & Jennifer Benner, Timber Press

Over the past few years, several books have been published offering advice for creating beautiful and interesting gardens, in the shortest amount of time and with the least amount of fuss. These manuals allow the harried and the multi-taskers to circumvent the fascinating garden journey of trial, error, and discovery in order to experience almost instant success in gardening. Gardening manuals, that are clear and easy to read and that are neither encyclopedic nor all-encompassing in scope, are helping to create unique horticultural experiences for busy people. The Nonstop Gardener is such a book. The authors make it possible to work with recommended plants to quickly create attractive all season gardens that are almost the equal of those developed by experienced gardeners through years of experimentation.

Some of my gardenwriter colleagues, who are traditional in their approach to gardening, are dismayed. They are disappointed that the new gardener will not experience the thrill of the hunt, the thrill of discovery and the fascination of watching a plant develop its personality. They insist that the essence of gardening will be lost and that a rich and rewarding hobby will become a hollow activity. I understand their concerns. However, I also understand the very real needs of the new gardener. Why should multi tasking people, whose time is precious, not be able to create a beautiful garden without fuss and without burdensome background information? In a world that can given us frozen pizza that tastes like delivery, a successful instant garden should be accessible to those that need them.

Some of us choose to experience a rich quantity of life. Immersing ourselves in that style of living leaves little room to enjoy most journeys because we are in a rush to get to the destinations. This book is about one specific destination - a garden that it is beautiful and interesting all year long. Such a garden includes trees, shrubs, and perennials, “the main attractions’. These are followed by “the supporting cast” namely, bulbs, annuals, tropicals, edibles and vines. The authors round out their recommendations with “the finishing touches” which include ornamentation, containers, structures and seasonal interest.

The essence of this book is that a non stop garden is better because it requires less maintenance, provides continual beauty, allows more creativity, and encourages diversity. To further simplify the process, the authors include the names of no less than forty seven sites that sell plants suitable for such gardens. Newbie gardeners often become overwhelmed by all of the information that they need to process in order to garden successfully. Not any more; The Nonstop Garden is part of a collection of intelligent and creative garden manuals that strip away the mystique to reveal the beautiful.