Tuesday, December 18, 2007

The Garden in Winter by Suzy Bales

The winter is my time for armchair gardening. Also, during the winter I always give the garden a hard look to see how I can improve it next spring to increase its winter beauty. I was thrilled to read Suzy Bales recently published book The Garden in Winter. I have read many books on winter gardens, but this is the best so far because of the breath of the information. It covers not only the garden, but indoor decorations made from material cut from the garden and various other winter occupations.

As expected Bales highlights various plants that add to the seasonal beauty of the garden, but goes beyond the laundry list to include her own experience in growing these plants. She grows Petasites japonicus, for example. Although, the plant blooms in very early spring and has distinctive leaves, its size and spreading habit allows Bales to only recommende it with caveats.

Throughout the book are many short essays on topics related to winter which are very interesting and informative. In these essays, Bales profiles many people and gardens that make use of the season in spectacular ways. For example, she interviews Les Brake, a gardener in Willow, Alaska, who is passionate about making sculptural ice lanterns to fight off the winter doldrums. His work is amazing and inspiring.

I love snowdrops. Every winter when I walk the garden I look with anticipation to see if they have begun to come up. I was thrilled to find Bales profile on Temple Nursery which specializes in hard to find and rare snowdrop cultivars sold in the green.

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