The snow has finally melted, March is just around the corner, and it is time to start thinking about gardening. We have some new books on the shelf this month that might answer your gardening questions and inspire you to new heights of horticultural creativity.
Viburnums: flowering shrubs for every season by Michael A. Dirr is a book for serious gardeners. He goes into great detail about the various species and cultivars of this tough little shrub, and he also includes extensive notes about propagation and breeding as well as pests & diseases. Since they love moist, acidic soil, viburnums are a good addition to any Southeast garden.
Impatiens are another Southeast staple, and to get an idea of the dizzying variety of colors and shapes available, you should pick up Impatiens: the vibrant world of busy lizzies, balsams, and touch-me-nots, by Raymond J. Morgan. I love impatiens because they love shade and water, and Morgan provides helpful in-depth commentary and photos about the different varieties. They're a nice, easy way to brighten up your garden or containers.
If you feel that impatiens, astilbe and nasturtiums are for sissies, you may be ready for a bigger gardening challenge. The Encyclopedia of Exotic Plants for Temperate Climates, by Will Giles, is the book for you. He includes photos, descriptions and cultivation information for over 1500 eye-grabbing plants that will astound your friends and impress your neighbors. (And he does include some impatiens, so Ha!).
For the artistic - and patient - gardener, there is Tricks With Trees: growing, manipulating and pruning by Ivan Hicks and Richard Rosenfeld. More than just a bunch of lame topiaries, the trees and shrubs in this book are truly amazing. Page after page of gorgeous, sculptural, carefully aligned plants. This definitely crosses the line from gardening into 3-D art forms. Just so you know, alders make excellent candidates for this.
So roll up your sleeves, dig out the extra-tuffs, and start mucking out that garden!