books

Shopping for veggies for the spring garden…

A quick trip to The Natural Gardener today yielded a treasure trove of goodies for the spring garden.

I went in search of three little things:  potatoes, sulfur and seed starter mix.

But I came home with so much more, including:

  • a few magazines,
  • a decorative hanging bell with a cord of glistening glass beads,
  • a fairy garden turtle on a leaf for my daughter, who recently asked if she could have a turtle,
  • seeds,
  • strawberries,
  • beets,
  • lettuce,
  • cauliflower,
  • spinach,
  • chard,
  • daikon radishes,
  • all blue and red pontiac potatoes,
  • sulfur,
  • and my friend Amy Stewart’s book, Wicked Plants.

I got it all into the car and then realized I had forgotten the seed starter mix.  It’s funny how a trip to the nursery can turn your world upside down and make you forget things.  I ran back in and grabbed a bag.

Now it’s time to get busy planting!

A must-read for gardeners and wannabes: The Layered Garden

In my spare time, I’ve been devouring the The Layered Garden, by David Culp with Adam Levine.  The title jumped out at me when I got the latest email promotion from Timber Press, so they sent me a copy and I’m reviewing it.

As part of their fall promotion, Timber Press is giving away an amazing deal – 5 books, a tote bag and a signed print by Brooke Weeber.  Just go to Timber Press to enter and win. 

All the books look great, but an entire book on layering in the garden, the history of David Culp’s garden and then, the icing on the cake, Rob Cardillo’s photographs — well, I just couldn’t resist.  And I’m glad I didn’t.

The Layered Garden is an inspiration for experienced and new gardeners alike.  Filled to the brim with beautiful photographs — especially long shots with detailed design components — it offers a full pallet of ideas.

The book chronicles the creation of the gardens of David Culp and his partner, Michael Alderfer, at Brandywine Cottage in Pennsylvania.  Purchased in 1990, the cottage itself was built in the 1790’s and the original farmland subdivided into 2-acre lots.

Both a garden designer and a plant collector, Culp writes, “I express myself in two distinct ways: as a plantsman who enjoys collecting specimens…and as a designer who enjoys playing with plants to achieve a desired effect.”

The first section of the book weaves the tale of each of the distinct gardens and how they came to be so lush and full.  The gardens are designed to be layered in many ways — layers of sizes and textures and colors and layers that peak at different times of year, allowing different waves of bloom.  Other elements like pots and antique stone troughs add interest and more layers, and they plant them with seasonal accents and plant displays.

The garden includes layers of tall plants and man-made elements to provide vertical interest in the garden. 

Then I got to the third chapter of the book, “Signature Plants Through the Seasons,” where he admits, “Hello, my name is David, and I am addicted to plants.”  That really spoke to me!  Full of beautiful photos and detailed information about the focal point plants of each season, his collector’s passion is evident here.

He closes with a list of his favorite garden books, which I’ll definitely be checking out, too.

Layers and layers of plants and colors and textures — gardens waves of blooms that peak throughout the year — that’s what I want in my garden.  And I’ll be going back to this beautiful book time and time again for inspiration and ideas.

If you’re looking for some inspiration for layers in your garden, check out the Timber Press promotion at Garden Outside the Garden – maybe you can win it! 

Creativity in a Tiny Terrarium


It’s hot here in Central Texas. I know you’ve heard me say that before, but it’s really hot. We’ve had more than 25 days over 100 degrees since late May. We normally have an annual average of 12 days over 100. That makes gardening tough. Planting is impossible and even established plants and trees are struggling just to survive.

When the heat exhausts me and I’m forced indoors, I miss my garden. But when one door closes another door opens, and I find refuge in my garden magazines and books (and the air conditioning!)

So, I was excited when my friends at Timber Press sent me Terrarium Craft to review. I sat down with my preview copy and a tall glass of iced tea and had myself a little eye candy.

I grew up with an enormous floor-sized terrarium. My Mom created it and we had it as far back as I can remember. It was a beautiful bluish-green and I was always amazed at how the plants grew and thrived in that bottle.

The first thing you notice about Terrarium Craft is that it’s full of beautiful photos of the most creative little vignettes. It took me a while to start reading because I was mesmerized by the amazing miniature worlds.

The book provides a blueprint for 50 original projects, including options for materials, plants, and techniques. And it’s designed to spark your creativity and inspire you to make your own magical little glass world.

There are so many choices to put in your terrarium – sand, stones, shells, sticks, and even ball moss, with limitless possibilities for memorabilia.

After outlining information about all the categories of materials, the next section provides step-by-step instructions about how to assemble it all.

Then, pages and pages with an amazing array of terrariums — beach, forest, desert and fantasy terrariums.

Inspire me it did. Now I’m trying to decide what special things I want to put in my terrarium. Given my love of birds, I think it will include a little ceramic bird and some branches.

Now I’m going to walk around my air conditioned house and see what little goodies I can collect to put in my own special little glass world.

Going to seeds (in a handbasket!)


While trying to ignore the many crispy-fried-plants in my garden, I started looking for other things going on.

And lo and behold, many of my plants and trees are going to seed today.

I didn’t capture them all, but some of them are just so interesting to look at.

And they are as diverse as the plants from which they come.

The Pride of Barbados seed pod is thin and delicate, just like the shrub.

It almost looks like a snow pea pod, but a little longer.


The Esperanza pod is long and shiny and thin. It almost looks like it’s covered in lime-green wax.
This hideous looking pod is from the stunningly beautiful Moy Grande Hibiscus with giant hot-pink blooms that I posted about several weeks ago here.

I have hundreds of seeds coming on, so if you’d like me to send you some, please comment with your email and I’d be happy to write to you and get your info to share them. She was amazingly prolific this year, and I see that there is another bloom about to open tomorrow. She’s like the Energizer bunny!
This spiky little guy is from my white Datura, which reseeds (by the gazillion) every spring. The plant is as tough as the seed pod looks.
These fat, woody and fuzzy pods are from the Texas Mountain Laurel, which is covered in seeds right now. Sadly, they are S-L-O-W growers, and if you want to start one from seed, you’d better not be counting on any shade from it for several decades!
And this is one of my very favorite books. If you have kids or grand kids, this is a delightfully written and beautifully illustrated book about the life cycle of plants and the many different kinds of seeds. The book IDs many seeds and plants and Kallie and I just love it. Learning about the garden is just a normal part of our outdoor life, and while we talk about seeds as we see them, this book bring it all to life for kids. If you can’t read that small type, the author is Diana Hutts Aston and the illustrator is Sylvia Long. By the way – those giant pods at the top of the book cover are Mountain Laurel pods with the little red seeds inside and a little hint of Laurel heavenly-grape bloom peeking in from the top.

I highly recommend it — for kids (and adults).

By | July 28th, 2009|Blog, books, pods, seeds, Sharing Nature's Garden|0 Comments