The increasing amount of e-mail I receive indicates that more and more of you are Internet-savvy. Here are my favorite Web sites for "Net nuts" who do some digging in cyberspace as well as in gardens.
* The Garden Web Forums (www.gardenweb.com/forums/) claim to be the largest community of international gardeners on the Internet. If you are interested in a particular topic--from "market gardening" to "bassins et plantes aquatiques"--there is a good chance you will find a forum to fit.
* Plant America (plantamerica.com) is the place to learn who's who in the industry. It offers Horticulture Yellow Pages, listing, for example, those who work in horticulture services, universities and extension. The site also offers the most complete CD-ROM photos of perennials and woody plants on the market.
* Garden.com (www6.garden.com) is as good an interactive site as you will find. There are loads of good garden and landscape tips, including how to design your grounds and get your questions answered. The site claims to offer more than 20,000 products and a complete selection of materials.
* Gardenweb.com (www.gardenweb.com) is well designed to surf around the world. The focus is plants-oriented, with a botanical glossary, garden exchange, contests, bazaar, calendar of events, rose expertise, a huge directory and direct links to plant experts from some of the top companies in the world.
* The University of Maryland (www.agnr.umd.edu/ces/) offers the same great advice on the Web that you can get by calling the university, plus a list of free and nominal-cost publications.
* Virginia Tech and Virginia State Universities (www.ext.vt.edu/news/releases/garden.html) have a noncommercial and information-packed site that directs you to the correct offices if you need more data. Topics are listed by subject for easy reference.
* Cornell University (cce.cornell.edu/programs/ ag/landscape-hort.html) offers one of the most complete databases of landscape and gardening information I have seen. You can design a garden, access a 3,000-plant database and tap into many other resources. You'll be here for a while.
* The University of Delaware (bluehen.ags.udel.edu/deces/) offers information on many garden and agriculture issues, including diseases, plants and landscape design.
* Ohio State University (www.hcs.ohio-state.edu/hcs/hcs.html) has put together a comprehensive site on everything from plant suggestions to getting a degree in horticulture. It has a search mechanism and an easy-to-follow list of options that will take you into virtual and actual facets of horticulture.
* Come Into My Garden (www.hal-pc.org/ trobb/horticul.html), a site developed by Tom Robb, features a great collection of information and a complete list of master gardener programs--with humor and animation. The information is a personal collection of extremely helpful tidbits in no special order. Plan to spend your Saturday browsing.
* Ask Ms. Grow-It-All (homearts.com/depts/garden/groq12f1.htm) is a clever, easy-to-peruse site about many garden issues. Click through question after question and learn valuable tips.
Composting, Conservation and Nature
* Rot Web (net.indra.com/ topsoil/Compost_Menu.html) is a wittily named site presenting composting and numerous other environmentally sound methods of gardening. This simple, easy-to-navigate location has a huge body of reading material.
* The Agriculture Department (www.ftw.nrcs.usda.gov/compost.html) breaks composting into its simplest form. It's good general information and is laid out so you just hit "print" and get a hard copy of the document without the advertising found on commercial sites.
* The Agriculture Department also offers information on mulching, soil and water conservation, wildlife, ponds, wetland practices and many other backyard conservation considerations (www.nhq.nrcs.usda.gov/CCS/Backyard.html). It's a no-nonsense, fact-filled site that's enjoyable to travel. The links take you to a virtual library of other wildlife and nature preservation addresses.
* The Wild Ones Handbook (www.epa.gov/glnpo/greenacres/wildones/) is exactly what it says, "A Voice for the Natural Landscaping Movement." It offers information on every aspect of natural landscape design, from seed collection to references and site preparation.
* The Bug Store (www.bugstore.com/) is a site where you will find the latest on beneficial insects to protect your garden. They can be purchased right on the Web and shipped fresh.
* Dr. James Duke, one of the world's most knowledgeable people about medicinal plants, has developed a site (www.ars-grin.gov/duke/index.html) with an incredible collection of herbal knowledge. It's the best I've seen, in cyberspace or in print.
* Herb World (www.herbworld.com/), built by the Herb and Marketing Network, is good, easily accessible education for amateur browsers or serious herb growers. You can click onto a list of related associations, company contacts, exchange programs, chat and question-and-answer opportunities, a newsletter, a plant locator, herb gardens and more.
* The Virginia Native Plant Society (www.vnps.org/) offers local native plant information. If you ever wondered what all the fuss about native plants was about, this site will clarify all.
* Grand Prairie Friends (www.prairienet.org/gpf/natives.html) offers a listing of native plant societies nationwide. Each society gives its own twist on native plants, an idea that is fast turning into a movement. You can easily spend several hours here.
* Pete's Pond Page (reality.sgi.com/peteo/) is Pete Orelup's compilation of material on pond equipment, suppliers and instructions. It was a little slow in loading, but when it did, I saw why: Orelup presents his world of water gardening in an enjoyable mix of text, diagrams and photos of everything from bridge to bio-filter construction.
* The Internet Pond Society (w3.one.net/ rzutt/index.html) fills in any missing spaces on water gardens. After you exhaust this storehouse of information, go to the links to numerous other resources by clicking on "Visit Other Pond Pages."
Lerner is president of Environmental Design in Capitol View Park, Md. His e-mail address is email@example.com