Wednesday, November 04, 2009

See what's been blooming at B&N's GARDEN VARIETY

Fairies in the Flowers

“Sunlight fades, stars appear, garden fairies gather here.” – Unknown

Got Dirt?

Getting down and dirty is half the fun of gardening, but how well do you know your soil?

Sticks and Bones

"Gardeners and crime writers have quite a lot in common, not the least that they are both fond of a good plot." – attributed to Royal Horticultural Society member Jane Bowden, writing as Avon Curry.

Friday Five: 5 Books for Budding Gardeners (at $10 or Less!)

There was a time when I was more interested in pretty pictures of flowers than the real thing. Being a girly girl, digging in the dirt just seemed gross to me. But I grew up to be a lot more interested in snakes and snails and puppy dogs (tails and all) than in cooking with sugars and spice. Now, I’m always keeping an eye out for fun garden-related books for kids.

A Rose is a Rose, But Not Necessarily a Romance

With Valentine’s Day just around the corner, roses are everywhere. Roses aren’t just on Hallmark cards and in floral bouquets—they are on the covers of all kinds of books. And not just romances...

The Quirky Side of Gardening

“Sometimes you feel like a nut; sometimes you don’t.” While these books may not be your typical garden fare, they’ll put a smile on your face.

Five for Friday: Gardeners, In Their Own Write

There are gardeners, and there are garden writers. And then there are writers like these five, who have such a masterful way with the written word that they’ve become as well known as authors and essayists as for their gardens.

It’s a Wild Life

They’re out there. Deer, raccoons, foxes, coyotes, rabbits, squirrels, moles, voles, chipmunks, ground hogs, armadillos, and even wolves, bears, and mountain lions, depending on where you live. Some welcome all kinds of wildlife into their gardens. Others, like my mom, think the critters are out to get them. Love 'em or hate 'em—or maybe even fear them—it’s their world, too, and we're all in this together.

Friday Five: Garden Essays

Find a cozy spot and dig into these delicious essays, rich with all the flavors of the garden.

How Plants Got Their Names

There are two ways to look at this: the scientific classifications of plant species, and the sometimes fanciful ways both common and botanical names are derived. If you’re a research-minded horticulturist, or someone who's fascinated by history and trivia, these books are for you.

Eating the Sun: An Ode to the Miracle of Photosynthesis

The best science book you think you’ll never read—but I hope you do. I love this line: “The sun’s energy, stored by plants, keeps us alive moment by moment, heartbeat by heartbeat, thought by thought. Our bodies are stardust; our lives are sunlight.”

Friday Five is Back: Breathtaking Books

If a picture is worth a thousand words, these gorgeous books are priceless.

Gift Books for Young Gardeners

Plant a seed and watch it grow: give garden-related gifts to the children on your shopping list. It’s never too early to instill a love of gardening—and reading—in your kids or grandkids!

Gifts for Gardeners Who Like to Read

Looking for a gift for the gardeners in your life? You can’t go wrong with these collections.

A Touch of Winter Magic

December is the month of Winter Solstice and the ancient Yule holiday (not to be confused with Christmas). I thought this would be a good time to look at myth, magic, and legends that relate to our plants and gardens.

Deck the Halls

‘Tis the season to go wild with holiday trimmings—be sure to include a taste of the outdoors in your decor.

Christmas Trees: The Real Deal

I bet you thought Christmas trees date back to Europe a couple hundred years ago—I know I did. I was surprised to learn how long trees have been part of our festivities, and not just the familiar Christian holiday.

O Christmas Tree

“O Christmas Tree! O Christmas Tree! Thy leaves are so unchanging; Not only green when summer's here, But also when 'tis cold and drear.” Whether you prefer real or fake, it’s just not Christmas without a tree.

The New Garden Classics

Merriam-Webster defines “classic” as “serving as a standard of excellence: of recognized value.” These modern gardening classics reflect a shift in attitude toward our relationship with nature

Influential American Landscape Designers

Many beautiful outdoor spaces—golf courses, public parks and gardens, even cemeteries—can seem like natural oases born out of thin air, but they're actually carefully planned out and tended to by experts. It's very interesting to learn about the artists behind these spaces and it can provide endless inspiration for your own landscaping projects.

Friday Five: The English Garden

It’s a British invasion! And it’s been going on for centuries. England’s mild climate was ideal for gardening, and despite our appreciation of French and Italian gardens, England holds the garden crown. How did it all begin?

Gardens of Words

Writing and gardening are both solitary obsessions, but most gardeners will talk a blue streak about their favorite hobby. It’s only natural that some prolific gardeners have produced words as prolifically as blossoms.

Friday Five: Serenity Gardens

Healing gardens, Zen gardens, spiritual gardens, meditation gardens, Japanese gardens—there are many names for these serene spaces, but all offer respite from the hectic pace of daily life. Here are five books to help you create your own garden retreat.

Digging Into Murder

... in gardens, beauty is a by-product. The main business is sex and death ...
- Sam Llewelyn

What Fun is Gardening without the Birds and the Bees?

Roses are red, violets are blue, gardening’s hot in romance fiction, too.

Cultivating for Clues: Garden Mysteries

The planting pit that hides a grave, the freshly tilled soil revealing bleached bones—these are age-old themes in the mystery genre. Who hasn’t read a mystery that featured arsenic or strychnine in the garden shed or clues left clinging to the ivy outside the victim’s window? Like Holmes and Watson, like Poirot and Hastings, gardens and mysteries are a perfect pair.

Five Favorites: Color in the Garden

Pablo Picasso asked, "Why do two colors, put one next to the other, sing? Can one really explain this? No." If Picasso couldn't answer this, I sure can't. That's why I collect books about color, particularly color in the garden. Luckily, there are plenty of books to choose from.

Five Favorites: Conifers

What is a conifer? If that question makes you wrinkle your forehead and hesitantly think of pines and Christmas trees, these books may not be for you. On the other hand, if you know that conifers come in many colors—far beyond "ever green"—and that some are even deciduous, at least one of these books deserves a place on your bookshelf.

The Origin of [Plant] Species

Trees and shrubs are a pleasure for many homeowners. They're aesthetically pleasing in the landscape, and they offer shade, fruits, flowers, and—especially this time of year—dazzling leaves. But have you ever wondered where those trees and shrubs came from? Before they make it to the nursery? I'm curious about the actual origins of trees and shrubs. Aren't you?

Tree Talk

Trees speak to us, if not with words. Dr. Seuss’ Lorax talks to the trees, and even William Shakespeare “finds tongues in trees, books in the running brooks, sermons in stones, and good in everything.” Some trees have more to say than others, and their words are hard to ignore.

Five Favorites: Garden Reference Books

No matter how much experience a gardener has, there is always more to learn. Nowadays, a lot of information can be found on the internet, but I like to have a good-sized library of reference books that I can call upon when I have a garden-related problem to solve.

Appreciating Autumn

I’ve always loved the fall, even if it does carry the underlying chill of winter days to come. It’s the season for leaf peeping, bonfires, jack-o-lanterns, and hot apple cider. Where I grew up in the Midwest, fall—or “autumn,” as my British husband prefers—was signaled by dried cornstalks, bumpy globes of osage orange, cigar-like pods of catalpas, and the vivid blue skies of what we called, with no thought of political correctness, “Indian summer.”

Not Your Grandma’s Garden

There is a homey sound to the phrase "Grandma's Garden ”—even if your grandmother never planted a flower in her life. The romantic vision of an old-fashioned garden seems to fit the description of a traditional English Cottage Garden. It is possible to recreate an heirloom or period garden.

Danger Lurks in the Garden

Many people are not aware of which ornamental plants and flowers are harmful—or even deadly—to humans and animals. Are those potted plants of yours actually pretty poison?

Five Favorites: Books About Gardeners

I agree with Cicero, who said, “He who has a garden and a library wants for nothing.” My own library has several bookcases overflowing with garden-related books, a number of those by and about gardeners.

If Plants Could Kill

Wicked Plants is a nonfiction gardening book that reads like a mystery; I was intrigued the minute I read the title, and hooked from the first page! The book digs up some of Mother Nature's most evil creations—the trees, shrubs, vines, weeds, and other plants that have been known to maim, intoxicate, and even kill people (not to mention gross them out. A weed that makes you drool prodigiously? Ew!).


As summer draws to a close, the peak time for planting spring-flowering bulbs will soon be upon us. Bulbs are magical; pop those dull brownish lumps into the ground and your garden will explode with color next spring—tulips, daffodils, and hyacinths galore.

Prune Away Problems

Pruning is a gardening task that many regard as a chore. True, pruning certain plants can be daunting and tricky, but it's well worth the effort. It's beneficial—essential, even—to the health of your plants and the look of your garden. With a little help from some trusted gardening guides, pruning doesn't have to be a thorn in your side!

Extreme Hostas

From miniature (we're talking palm-sized) to massive (6 feet across!), the garden hosta goes to extremes.

Labyrinths and Mazes

Labyrinths and mazes were once considered to be the same thing, or nearly so. Today the two are distinctly different, both by definition and purpose. A maze is a kind of game, designed to trick us into losing ourselves. A labyrinth has a more spiritual meaning, and is designed to help us find ourselves. These ancient puzzles fascinate us to this very today.

Their Names Live On In Flowers

Many of the flowers you know and love were named after actual people—like the granddaughter of Charles Darwin and a member of the Jameson Irish whiskey family. Who's living in your garden?

More Than a Hint of Mint

It's an herb, it's a garnish, it's...taking over your herb garden? From backyards to bubblegum, mint is making its mark.

Black Magic with a Metallic Twist

Black, bronze, and metallic plants add drama and sophistication to a garden's palette.

Make Your Garden a Hummingbird Haven

These pretty little hummers hypnotize and enthrall gardeners and photographers alike. With a little planning, your flower garden can easily be turned into a hummingbird habitat. An upcoming book, World of Hummingbirds, details the history of this beloved bird—and even includes tips on watching hummingbirds and attracting them to your garden.

A Taste of the Tropics

Whether you prefer salsa, reggae, or grass-skirted hula dancers, you can bring the flavor of your favorite island destination to your own garden—even if your climate is anything but tropical.

Growing Up Green

It's never to early to start growing a green thumb.

What Flower Are You?

Flowers have long been associated with emotions and personality traits. So what flower (or plant) fits your personality—are you a shy violet, a graceful iris, a happy sunflower, or a prickly cactus?

Gnome and Garden

They’re little. They’re ugly. They wear pointy red hats. It’s a gnome invasion. . .

Landscape Visionary: Jens Jensen

Often called the dean of the Prairie style, this Danish-born landscape architect and published author graduated from the bedded gardens of Scandinavia and Germany to become the "dean of the Prairie style," bringing waterfalls, winding paths, and native Midwestern plants to the parks of Chicago—and beyond.

Sticks and Stones

Pop quiz: What toy is "found in all sizes in nature, inspires spontaneous, unstructured play, and can be used in unending imaginative ways?" Here's a hint: this same toy can be used "to draw in the sand on the beach or to use as a magic wand, sling shot, light saber, fishing rod, or walking stick." Here's one more clue: It doesn't cost a thing.

Lilies Are Not Always What They Seem

When it comes to names, lilies are often the source of unwitting confusion. Some of your most beloved lilies are not true lilies at all.

Emerge from the Ordinary with a Butterfly Garden

Want to give your landscape wings? Try making it a haven for butterflies.


Janet Rudolph said...

What a fun column! I blogged about different types of mystery & poisonous gardens last Spring on Mystery Fanfare.

Becke Davis said...

It's one of my favorite topics! I did a talk about this subject once on a riverboat luncheon cruise connected with the Cincinnati Flower Show.

I looked up your blog and I LOVE it! Here's a direct link for anyone who might like to read it:

Becke Davis said...

I just noticed the blog was dated August. Is there another one?