Magazines A-Z: Birds & Blooms

Whether it's birds & blooms or sun & fun, there's no better time to get out in your yard and make things happen. Recently added to the library's magazine collection is Birds & Blooms: Beauty in Your Own Backyard. Loaded with lists of which birds are attracted to which flowers, and what to plant, considering soil, shade and seasons.

Also, if you're looking for simple projects to try in your backyard, the 'project section' in this magazine features feeders, birdhouses, garden crafts and large garden projects that will transform your backyard!

Branching out with other similar titles you might also try, English Garden, Gardens Illustrated, Fine Gardening, or Horticulture: the Art & Science of Smart Gardening.

Lovin' the Lavender

One of my favorite scents is lavender and with spring planting upon us, I turned to the Lavender Lover's Handbook, for inspiration. Lavender not only smells intoxicating, the flowers are gorgeous, and it can be used in a variety of recipes. From flower arranging to wreath making to cooking, this book provides the information needed to utilize lavender in many ways and in a variety of forms. The author also describes the different varieties of lavender, as well as how to grow and maintain them in abundance. The author should know, she has a 5-acre farm in Oregon with some 5000 lavender plants. It is open to the public and has the romantic name of Lavender at Stonegate. The library owns several other books on lavender, like Lavender : the grower's guide and Lavender : how to grow and use the fragrant herb I also have just heard about the Michigan Lavender Festival in Armada that takes place in July! A rewarding summer sipping sweet lavender lemonade!

Garden Problem Solver

Spring is here, and we’ve had a few warm days finally, so let’s talk gardening. I know you’ve got seeds ordered and sprouting indoors! We’ve got a new and pretty little book called Garden Problem Solver that has suggestions for just that. It has wonderful illustrations of images of disease and damage with possible solutions to bring the foliage back to health and get rid of pests. It talks about various problems encountered by a variety of ornamentals, vegetables, fruit, and weeds.

The library has a plethora of great books on gardening. Everything from what to plant when and where, to how to take care of it. Happy gardening! Think spring!

Cabin Fever

If you are anything like me, March rolls around and you begin to crave the juicy flavor of a sun-warmed tomato or the crunch of a raw sugar snap pea. OK, maybe I started to crave those back in November..but, March is when I can actually allow myself to think about what delicious food I am going to grow. It is also when I can take little steps to growing this food, such as ordering/planting seeds and beginning to plan the layout of my garden. Around this time my imagination runs rampant and I end up with way more seeds and varieties of tomatoes than I could ever plant, let alone eat. With the help of some resources from AADL, you can wrap up in a blanket with a warm cup of tea, and look forward to the day when the sun is once again shining and you are not under 5 layers of clothes.

With books such as The Backyard Homestead, Great Garden Companions, and Easy Vegetable Garden Plans…you can begin to plan your summer growing experience.

Don’t have enough land to plant a garden? Have no fear! You can plant in containers if you only have a porch or a deck. There are many books that offer solutions to the problem of not having available land to plant a traditional garden. To see a list of books that address this and other issues that may arise when you are trying to garden in a small space, click here.

I would also recommend making a trip to the AADL location and browsing the gardening section. You can also browse our collection online here.

Also, if you do not have the space to garden but still want to get your hands dirty, there are many opportunities for you! Community gardens like Better Together Community Garden or organizations such as Growing Hope in Ypsilanti exist so you can get outside and work with the earth no matter what your living situation may be.

Get ready, summer is just around the corner!

Unexpected Houseplant

I love gardening and look forward to spring when all the new buds start coming up. In the winter I continue my plant obsession indoors and a great way to get inspired was by perusing the book, the Unexpected Houseplant by Tovah Martin. Beautiful pictures, wonderful ideas, some plants and trees I never even considered for the indoors like Cupressus arizonica (or Blue Ice), or heard of before like Kangaroo Paws. Her writing draws you into her Victorian home located on 7 acres in Connecticut and overflowing with abundant flowers, herbs, and beautiful plant combos like sedum 'Angelina' with blue fescue. The plants are just as much a part of the pictures as the containers and the rooms themselves. The book's chapters are divided into seasons and describe not only each houseplant for the season, but the care, light exposure, water requirements, optimum temps, and any problems to note. Tovah Martin has a blog you can follow called Plantswise and many books, one in particular covers the rediscovered joy of terrariums, called The New Terrarium.

Beautiful No-Mow Yards

Seed catalogs are appearing in my mailbox. So, in spite of the white stuff outside, it is time to begin dreaming about and planning for next year’s garden. Part of my long-term plan has been to retire the lawn – by that I mean the green stuff that grows and has to be cut. But what do you replace it with? When I found this book, I knew I had found my answer. Actually, 50 potential answers. For that is how many lawn alternatives are highlighted in this wonderful book, Beautiful No-Mow Yards.

Let’s face it, a lush, green lawn, cut to the perfect height is lovely. But it takes a lot of water, fertilizer, time and machinery to keep it that way. And, lovely though it may be, it is a bit of a waste when you consider the alternatives, such as: a rain garden, a meadow, an edible garden, a living carpet, a shade garden, ponds, patios, play areas and, my personal favorite, a stroll garden. Even if you cannot consider giving up the lawn, there are ideas here for a ‘smarter’, eco-friendly lawn. For more ideas along those lines take a look at this website.

Beautiful pictures and how-to details about making the transition, with what-to details about planting, make this book practical as well as inspiring. Dream now, for spring cannot be far, can it?

Master Gardener Bonnie Ion Discusses The Flowers Of India

Wednesday November 14, 2012: 7:00 pm to 8:30 pm -- Pittsfield Branch: Program Room

Having traveled in India, Bonnie Ion will present both images and history about the flowers of India.

Bonnie has been traveling the world since age 16 and gardening for the past 30+ years. Trained as a landscape architect, she is also a Master Gardener, and Michigan Garden Club lecturer.

Celebrating Our Republic: A Flower Show Celebrating Our Great Nation: Ann Arbor Garden Club

Saturday September 8, 2012: 1:30 pm to 5:00 pm -- Pittsfield Branch: Program Room

A flower show at the library!! This year's flower show celebrates America. Come and see what the Ann Arbor Garden Club grows and how they use what they grow in many beautiful floral designs.

Members of the garden club will be on hand to visit and answer questions.

Grown in Detroit

Detroit is a city that has been reviving itself for decades, as new generations bring new life to the city. With the city’s growth has also come growth in urban agriculture, as people are turning vacant lots into fertile land. Some call it the greening of a gray city.

The documentary film Grown in Detroit focuses on a group of students at Detroit’s Ferguson Academy for Young Women, a high school for pregnant teens, as they work in the school's urban garden and learn how to grow nutritious food for their children. One of only three schools in the country for this population, the curriculum focuses on helping these teens care for themselves and their children, and uses urban farming as a means to teach them.

The students featured in Grown in Detroit are at first underwhelmed by the amount of physical labor required for farming. The teen moms eventually realize that they can profit from the food they are growing, as well as provide nutritious food for their children and themselves, all stemming from the fruits of their labor. It’s a beautiful film that places an eye on this unique opportunity happening for these girls -- right here in Detroit.

In addition to being available on DVD at AADL, the film is also available for instant online streaming to logged-in AADL cardholders here! You can also watch it on the Grown in Detroit website, where you pay whatever denomination you want in order to view it.

Composting

The comforting reality is: you cannot fail at composting. Nature’s whole impulse is to break down organic substances and in her service are gazillions of bacteria, fungi and crawly critters. It will happen slowly without any intervention. For the purposes of a gardener, or just your average recycler, it is very useful to speed up the process and that is where this lovely book comes in to tell you how.

I have read all the books in our collection on compost and more besides (ok, I love the stuff) but, though they all individually have merits, all you need is Composting by Bob Flowerdew. With a name like that you’ve got to trust this guy. A small, handsome book, in this case less is more, and he says it all succinctly and clearly and gets it right.

Everyone can compost. Initially it takes some effort to get set up, but then it is painless. You can take your yard scraps and weeds, your kitchen scraps and garbage, that inedible zucchini you overlooked in the garden which grew to baseball-bat length, your leaves in the fall and, if you are lucky enough to find a source, manure from animals that eat grass, and turn it all into rich, ‘black gold’, which will enrich your soil and actually inoculate it against pests which like to attack what grows in your garden. It will make your vegetables and bushes and flowers grow beyond belief and give you a rich medium for your houseplants and seedlings. Add to that the fact that you keep all of those things out of the waste cycle. Everything wins! Besides it is magical to watch and participate in the life cycle of nature.

The best apologist for compost turns out to be Walt Whitman. His poem, “This Compost” is a beautiful statement about the efficiency with which the Earth will transform waste to fertility.
“Now I am terrified at the Earth, it is that calm and patient, It grows such sweet things out of such corruptions.”

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