Organic Gardening — Grasses — Perennials

Organic Garden Design School Rodale Press is well known for publishing books about organic gardening. This past year they published Ann Lovejoy’s book, Organic Garden Design School: A Guide to Creating Your Own Beautiful, Easy-Care Garden.

The book divides its topic into 13 chapters. They are: Creating a Natural Garden, Organic-Design Principles, Gardening Where You Are, Green Architecture, Seeing the Possibilities, Creating a Natural Backdrop, Sandwich Gardening, Combinations and Vignettes, Seasonal Flow, Care and Feeding of Your Garden, Making Beautiful Dirt, The Art of Mulching, and Troubleshooting in the Healthy Garden. An Organic Garden Design School Workbook follows the chapters.

This book is lavishly illustrated with full color photographs. I must admit that I am disappointed in the quality of the text. I felt the chapters should have presented more in-depth information. This may be simply because I already have extensive gardening experience and possess an associate’s degree in horticulture. For me, the most practical portion of the book was the workbook. Here the gardener goes through the design process, making notes in the book as they complete the activities. The gardener is left with everything necessary to successfully install their newly planned garden (except for the plants, of course!).

If you are an experienced gardener, I do not recommend this book for you. I would suggest it as a present for someone just starting to experiment with doing his or her own gardening. I suggest you spend your money on books about specific plants or an in-depth book on some other garden-related topic.

The Encyclopedia of Ornamental Grasses

John Greenlee and Derek Fell collaborated to produce this book. Rodale published it in 2000. This is a required book for everyone who enjoys using grasses in their landscape. The authors present information on 250 different plants, which guarantees you will find some just right for your garden.

The book is illustrated with quality pictures of the plants discussed. An introduction to how grasses live and reproduce is presented in the section before the encyclopedia begins. This section also talks about soil needs, fertilizing needs and of course, possible problems. I found this section quite helpful and easily understood.

The information in the encyclopedia portion is arranged alphabetically using the Latin name for the genus and species of each grass discussed. One neat feature is the box (light green background) presenting the botanical name and its pronunciation, common names, USDA hardiness zones, country of origin and preferred growing habitat. Their descriptions and suggestions for using the species in the landscape are excellent. Information on propagating the plants and potential problems are also given.

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