Social Distance XII: Garden Books

Our botanical highlight for this week is the Fernleaf Yarrow (Achillea filipendulina ‘Coronation Gold’). This native of the Mediterranean basin area grows well in the compatible environment of the Monterey Bay area. Its stalks grow up to five feet tall, and its large flowerheads are so tightly packed with individual blooms that the plant needs staking to keep from flopping. The bright colors are worth that extra management.

Fernleaf Yarrow

As we strive to keep our emotions positive and our viruses negative, we continue our exploration of accessible and productive gardening activities.

  1. Care for Your Garden

Seasonal maintenance tasks provide plenty to keep gardeners involved while sheltering in place. Unless you have a special strategy, weeding is likely to be on the “to-do” list.

A longer-term weed management method is to remove large weeds from an area, cover the area with a layer of cardboard, wet it down, and then cover the cardboard with three or four inches of organic mulch. This will smother weeds while the cardboard deteriorates.

Cardboard in rolls can be purchased for this work, but recycling cardboard cartons is less expensive and good for the environment. It is necessary, however, to remove any packaging tape, which doesn’t deteriorate.

Previous columns in this Social Distancing series describe various ways to care for your garden during these difficult times. If you wish to review those columns, browse to my “ongardeniing” website. Here’s a list of topics:

  • Chelsea Chop
  • Moving Plants
  • Seasonal Care of Rose
  • Garden Photography
  • Walking the Neighborhood
  • Gardening Curriculum for Kids
  • Gardening by Walking Around
  • Readiness for Wildfires
  • Gardening with Kids
  • Garden Maintenance

2. Advance Your Gardening Knowledge

3. Enrich Your Gardening Days

Gardeners can both advance their gardening knowledge and enrich their gardening days by reading garden-related books.

Gardening interests, fashions and tools evolve from year to year, but the basic concepts have been with us for generations. The best books on gardening continue to be informative and enriching, even decades after their original publication.

The Society’s annual Book Award Program began in 1997 with a list of 75 Great American Garden Books. Each year since then, a distinguished committee of garden communicators selects the award recipients from among the year’s new books submitted by publishers. Books are judged on qualities such as writing style, authority, accuracy, and physical quality.

Here are the award winners for 2020:

  • Fruit Trees for Every Garden:  An Organic Approach to Growing Apples, Pears, Peaches, Plums, Citrus, and More. by Orin Martin with Manjula Martin  \
  • The Melon by Amy Goldman; photographs by Victor Schrager
  • The Scentual Garden: Exploring the World of Botanical Fragrance by Ken Druse; botanical photographs by Ellen Hoverkamp

The American Horticultural Society is also an excellent online source of information on earlier high-quality books about gardening. Browse to the AHS awards webpage and click on the link to 75 Great American Garden Books. Then scroll to the bottom of the page to the link to List of Previous AHS Book Award Winners.

A good plan to draw from your choice of these thoughtfully selected books begins by creating a comfortable reading nook in the garden, for occasions for rest and reading between weeding sessions. Find the book or books of your interest in a local, reopened library or bookstore, or through ever-present amazon.com.

Enjoy your garden.

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