Green Scene

Books to inspire endeavors in landscape design, gardening

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By Joel M. Lerner
Friday, November 26, 2010; 5:54 AM

How about some green books for wintertime reading - and for your holiday shopping list? Here are some texts addressing the latest landscape design trends and information on plants' needs:

"Edible Landscaping," by Rosalind Creasy, (Sierra Club Books, 2010) has offered me new ideas to enhance melding landscape design with edible plants.

Creasy has spent decades discovering ideas for designs from rural and urban gardens. She identifies plant species and their edible qualities with written text that further clarifies information on the latest horticultural practices for growing produce locally and maintaining a healthy, aesthetically pleasing and environmentally responsible edible garden using permaculture.

Creasy, who has been honing her design skills for more than 30 years, is the author of 18 books and is a leading authority on edible landscaping. This 384-page softcover book is illustrated with more than 300 color photographs taken by Creasy and contains seven color garden plans and 20 black-and-white illustrations. Cost: $39.95.

"Honeybee Democracy," by Thomas D. Seeley, (Princeton University Press, 2010) will teach you everything you ever wanted to know about one of the world's most beneficial insects. The honeybee is critically important to pollinating crops that we depend on to produce fruits and vegetables. Much has been written recently about the puzzling decline of honeybee colonies and the implications of what this can mean for life on Earth.

This resource by Seeley explains their life cycle and how they dance and interact in an organized and caring fashion. Seeley, a biologist and beekeeper, presents his excellent understanding of what makes the bees' society work for the survival of the species. The epilogue correlates the bees' society directly to the coexistence and survival of humanity. This 280-page clothbound hardcover includes 30 color images, 30 halftones, 26 line drawings and one table. Cost: $29.95.

"Best Garden Design: Practical Inspiration from the Royal Horticultural Society Chelsea Flower Show," by Chris Young, (Firefly Books, 2010) is a must-study if you are searching for landscape design ideas. It is a library of the obscure.

There are hundreds of innovative designs including water walls, sculptures, modern sculptural mixing of media, and a section on sustainable design. There are classically executed designs as well, naturally planted with many modern touches. Photographs of container plantings are included.

This 224-page hardcover idea book has 400 color photographs and artwork from the Royal Horticultural Society Chelsea Flower Show, including 20 studies with garden plans. It might be the first book I'd flip through for design ideas. Cost: $35.

"The World of Trees," by Hugh Johnson, (University of California Press, 2010) is the ultimate tree-hugger book.

This beautifully appointed tome is a great addition to your coffee table for those moments when you want to learn more about trees. It covers tree classifications, weather and hardiness zones of trees in North America and Europe. It's the equivalent of a course in arboriculture for the amateur gardener and landscape professional, including the history and culture of trees, suggesting the climates where you might find them growing.

The final 375 pages of this 400-page clothbound hardcover book cover trees around the world in encyclopedic fashion, complementing the write-ups with high-quality photographs of specimens. There are 500 photographs and 1,000 line illustrations. Cost: $34.95.


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