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Organic Gardening Book Mark Highland

Organic Gardening Book Mark Highland

Organic gardening isn’t just a popular trend; it is a better way to garden. When you think about it, gardening is all about nature – from adding new plants to watching them grow and doing it with an organic approach, it just makes sense. In all my years as a horticulturist, I’ve found time and again that natural methods are often as effective as chemical ones and much better for both us and the environment.

*This blog post contains affiliate links. If you click through and make a purchase, I may receive a commission (at no additional cost to you). Thanks for your support in this way.*

A few months ago, I was asked to review the new book, Practical Organic Gardening by Mark Highland, and I eagerly accepted the opportunity.

creating an herb container

Planting herbs in a container

Reading through the book, I quickly realized that this was much more than a book extolling the ideals of organic gardening – it is a comprehensive gardening book that covers a large number of different topics including water-smart gardening, fighting pests, propagating plants, planning your garden, and even how to grow a lawn – ALL done organically.

organic vegetable garden

As the title suggests, the author presents his gardening how-to’s in practical steps and easy to understand language, yet, parts of the book also serve as an excellent reference in regards to the principles and science of organic gardening.

Mulch

I admit that I have limited shelf space for books, so the ones that I choose to keep must offer comprehensive information and be reasonably easy to read. This book is an excellent guide to organic gardening, and if you want to garden more naturally, I highly recommend that you add this to your bookshelf.

Organic Gardening Book Mark Highland

The publisher has offered to allow me to host a giveaway where the winner will receive a free copy of Practical Organic Gardening!!!

To enter, comment below telling me what you like to grow in your garden or natural methods you use in your garden. *For an extra entry, follow me on Facebook or Instagram.

The winner will be announced on Friday, September 27th. Good Luck!

I love using color in the garden, which is why I welcomed the opportunity to review the book, ‘The Colorful Dry Garden‘ and host a giveaway.

In my work as a horticulturist and landscape consultant, I find that people often have the mistaken impression that desert landscapes are destined to be brown and barren, but nothing could be farther from the truth. There are many plants that offer vibrant color to outdoor spaces while thriving in an arid climate.

Horticulturist, Maureen Gilmer, makes her home in the Palm Springs area, in the midst of the California desert, and she has put offered her expertise in creating colorful dry gardens in her latest book.

Her book is broken up into two different parts, with the first taking you through the steps of how to convert your landscape into one that saves water. Whether you want to do a total renovation or do it in phases, the book provides you with helpful guidance.

Part two has a comprehensive list of plants that add welcome color to the arid landscape. However, unlike many plant lists, the author groups plants into groups that focus on their role in the garden such as structure (shrubs), canopy (trees), accent plants, and those that add beautiful texture.

I have reviewed a large number of books that deal with gardening in a dry climate and ‘The Colorful Dry Garden’ approaches it a bit differently by focusing on color, design, plant function, as well as real steps on how to transition your landscape to one filled with water-saving, colorful plants.  

I enjoyed reading through the book and feel that it deserves a spot in your garden library. 

**The folks at Sasquatch Books are giving away a free copy of ‘The Colorful Dry Garden’ for readers of my blog. To enter, leave a comment telling me what your favorite colorful plant is. I will announce the winner on March 22nd.

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‘Glamis Castle’ English shrub rose

Walk through any garden where roses are present, and you’ll undoubtedly be attracted by the luscious blooms with their fragrant petals.  I’ve seen this happen time and again, watching how the beauty of roses attracts passersby, even those who don’t have a particular love for gardening or flowers.  There is just something magical about roses and how alluring they are.

For those of you who have grown roses before, you will probably agree that they aren’t the easiest plant to grow.  This is true of the hybrid tea, which are considered to be the classic modern rose with tall, upright stems and large flowers.  The downside of this type of rose is that they tend to be susceptible to a variety of diseases that affect the foliage and also are less fragrant than the old-fashioned roses of the past.

 

English shrub rose

Today, there is a new class of roses that are rapidly gaining presence in gardens everywhere.  Shrub roses are the newest and coolest type of rose in the gardening community.  The existence of these roses is due in large part to one man – an Englishman to be exact, David Austin.

A rose breeder by trade, he undertook the task of combining the best traits of old-fashioned roses with those of modern roses.  For those of you who are unfamiliar with old-fashioned roses, they are prized for their intoxicating fragrance, disease resistance, and petals that are arranged in a delightful mixture of swirling rosettes.  The main drawback of many of these old-fashioned roses is that they only bloom once a year.  

Modern roses such as hybrid tea are valued for their ability to bloom repeatedly throughout the year.  So, David Austin took on the formidable job of breeding old-fashioned and modern roses together to form a new type of rose that had the best traits from each parent, resulting in over 190 varieties of what are called ‘English Roses’ or ‘David Austin Roses.’

Red English shrub rose

After growing hybrid tea roses for years, my rose garden has gradually seen an increasing number of English shrub roses take their place.

There are many things that I enjoy about these roses, and despite their name, most do beautifully in my desert garden and are easier to maintain than the few hybrid tea roses that remain.  The perfume that arises from each bloom never ceases to immerse me with its intoxicating fragrance, which makes the cares of the world temporarily melt away.  

On a more practical note, I am so busy assisting other people with their gardens, that I don’t have a lot of time to fuss over mine, so any plants, including roses, must thrive with little attention like my English roses.  However busy I am, I do take a minute or two to go out in the garden and cut a bloom, or two, and bring inside where I can view its beauty and enjoy its fragrance close up.

If you want to grow roses without a lot of fuss, this English class is for you.  So when Firefly Books sent me the book, “The English Roses” to review and one to giveaway, I was very excited. 

 

At first glance, all you want to do it thumb through the pages and drool over the colorful photographs of truly stunning roses.

The first part of the book talks about the history of how these old-fashioned/modern hybrid roses were developed.  I found it quite interesting as I’ve always had a secret desire to be a rose breeder.

If however, you aren’t a fan of history, feel free to skip to the gallery section of the book, which profiles over 100 varieties with large photographs, which showcase the beauty of English shrub roses.  I wasn’t kidding when I said that you’d be drooling over the photos.

This is a large book and is suitable to be displayed on your coffee table where visitors can enjoy the beautiful photographs.

While reviewing this book, my grandson, Eric, climbed on my lap and was immediately entranced by the flowers displayed on the pages.  He had to smell each page, hoping to get a whiff of fragrant roses.

No matter how many pages, he sniffed, none of them smelled like roses.  But, I love how his excitement over this book shows the influence that roses have on us, and it begins at a young age.  Eric has been in my garden, and I’ve taken the time to show him how lovely the scent of roses are, and he recognized them in this book.

In my last post, I wrote about planting two new David Austin roses in the garden and promised to let you know what types they were.  I quickly found them in my book:

‘Darcey Bussell’

L.D. Braithwaite

As you can see, I was sent two red roses to test how well they will perform in a desert climate.  I can hardly wait to see their first blooms!

One rose that I have already growing in my garden is ‘Olivia Rose Austin,’ which is a newer introduction.  I was impressed at the number of flowers produced the first year after planting.  It also bloomed throughout much of the summer, which is often when roses cease flowering.

I’ve grown David Austin roses for over 20 years, including the varieties ‘Abraham Darby’, ‘Graham Thomas’ and ‘Juliet’.  I encourage you to try out one, or more, of these English beauties in your garden.  They aren’t typically available at your local nursery but can be purchased online.

To get you started on growing your own, I’m hosting a giveaway where you can win a copy of David Austin’s book, “The English Roses”.  To enter, leave a comment and tell me what you love about roses.  I’ll draw a random winner on Wednesday, February 8th.

Thanks to all of you who entered to win a copy of this great book.  

Congratulations to Peg Plant, who is the lucky winner!

If you are like me, you’ll be excited about growing your own microgreens and enjoying the delicious flavor that they add to your favorite foods.

You can order your own copy of Microgreens: How to Grow Nature’s Superfood, by clicking here

*Disclosure: I was given a free copy of this book in return for my honest review.

While I wouldn’t describe myself as someone who succumbs to the latest trends, that isn’t true when it comes to gardening.  I am always on the lookout for new ways to grow plants – especially those that I can eat 🙂

Talk to someone who grows vegetables in their garden and you are likely to find yourself engaged in a passionate conversation about different vegetables – what grows well, what doesn’t, and favorite ways to prepare them.

Growing microgreens are one of the newer garden trends that have rapidly captured the interest of home gardeners – me included!

This is especially true after reading the book, Microgreens: How to Grow Nature’s Superfood.  I can’t tell you how excited about this new book and how it is inspiring me to plant shallow bowls of microgreens in front of my sunny kitchen window.

 
Speaking of microgreens, do you know what they are?  
 
  Microgreens are seedlings of plants such as broccoli, cabbage, kale, lentils, mustard, peas and radish.  The seedlings have the delicate flavor of the mature plant yet only take 7 – 21 days to grow. 
 
They not only taste delicious but can be grown indoors or outside.  Imagine young kale or radish microgreens sprinkled in salads, in sandwiches, or in your favorite smoothie – and that’s just for starters.
 
 
Inside the cover, the author, Fionna Hill, dives right in talking about what microgreens are and why they aren’t considered to be sprouts and reasons why you should try growing your own.
 
 
Then she goes even further by titillating your taste buds by describing the taste of microgreens.  She describes the flavor of each type such as young basil, celery, kale, mustard, and radish.
 
 
Growing microgreens is easy to do and Fiona gives clear instructions on how to grow your own. I like that she includes a helpful chapter on how kids can grow them as well.  Just think of how growing microgreens can help your children to develop a lifelong love of gardening as well as  eat food that is good for them.  
 
If you are interested in participating in one of the newest gardening trends, then you’ll want to get this book.
 
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You can enter to win a free copy of Microgreens, How to Grow Nature’s Own Superfood.
 
1. To enter, simply leave me a comment about what fruits and/or vegetables that you like to grow and eat or if you have ever tried microgreens.
(Be sure to leave your email address if it’s not on your profile, or I won’t have any way to contact you.)
 
2. For a bonus entry, like me on Facebook or follow me on Twitter – (be sure to let me know in your comment).
 
Let your friends know about this great giveaway and I will pick a random winner on Monday, February 22nd.
 
You can also order your own copy of Microgreens, How to Grow Nature’s Own Superfood by clicking here.


*I was given a copy of this book free of charge for my honest review.

One of the perks of being a garden blogger is that I am often given the opportunity to review newly published gardening books. I was given a free copy of “Grow for Flavor” in return for my honest review.

 
After having reviewed many wonderful books written on a variety of gardening subjects, Grow For Flavor immediately grabbed my attention by the unique way that it promised to “turn the tables on conventional gardening advice” by dispelling common garden myths such as “home-grown always tastes better” and “heirloom vegetables always taste better than hybrids”. 
 
 
The publisher promises that “this book contains tips, how-to’s and recipes on how to increase the amount of flavor in home-grown food. For example, the author describes how you can make salad greens either sweet or fiery by choosing where and how you grow them, or how to use acidic soil to give strawberries better flavor. With recipes such as “Purple Sun” Carrot Cheesecake and Spiced Pumpkin, Tarragon & Marshmallow Soup, Grow for Flavor is the perfect book for a foodie-gardener.”
 
I must admit to being intrigued at its premise and couldn’t wait to discover more for myself.
Written by self-described obsessive botanist, James Wong, has based the book on over 2,000 scientific studies as well as his own taste tests has made the goal of this book to help home gardeners grow crops with maximum flavor and minimum labor.
The emphasis is growing plants for flavor rather than focusing on quantity, which can often decrease the flavor of homegrown vegetables.
One of my favorite parts is the author’s description of cilantro, calling it the “The Herb of Evil”.  Studies have shown that “loving or hating cilantro is genetically determined.”  Either you enjoy cilantro’s bright, citrusy flavor OR fail to understand why some people love a herb that tastes like soap.  It turns out that it is all in a person’s genes.  One-fifth of the world’s population has a gene that makes cilantro taste awful.  As one of the one-fifth, it is nice to have an explanation as to why I hate a herb that so many people love.
The predominant emphasis of Grow for Flavor is to grow fruits and vegetables for maximum flavor using simple tips.  It turns out that a plant’s genes are the biggest factor in how they taste, but growing plants in full sun and taking care to NOT overwater can also help to maximize flavor.
Recommended varieties are included for many types of vegetables including my favorites – sweet corn and tomatoes including those that are best for salad and those that are ideal for cooking are also included.
 
 
Colorful photos make the book a visual treat coupled with many delicious recipes featuring fresh grown produce, wild food delicacies such as certain weeds, flower waters, vinegar, jam and syrups are also featured.
 
After spending a very enjoyable time reading through the book, I found the publisher’s description described Grow for Flavor perfectly and I highly recommend it and it now occupies a prominent spot on my plant book shelves.
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So, now for the giveaway…
 
You can enter to win a free copy of Grow for Flavor.
 
1. To enter, simply leave me a comment about what fruits and/or vegetables that you like to grow and eat.
(Be sure to leave your email address if it’s not on your profile, or I won’t have any way to contact you.)
 
2. For a bonus entry, like me on Facebook or follow me on Twitter – (be sure to let me know in your comment).
 
Let your friends know about this great giveaway and I will pick a random winner on Saturday, February 13th.
 
You can also order your own copy of Grow for Flavor by clicking here.
 
*I was provided a copy of this book for free, for my honest review.

Imagine a garden with containers filled with a variety of colorful flowers, herbs, ornamental grasses, succulents and even vegetables.



Wouldn’t you love to have pots that look like this, overflowing with beautiful plants?

But, what if you live in the desert?  Can you grow plants in pots that aren’t just beautiful but that can thrive in our hot, dry climate?  

Believe it or not, you can.  Whether your container garden is limited to one pot or several – you can grow plants in pots in the desert garden.


Now before you say, “I’ve got a black thumb…everything I plant in pots die”, I have a great resource for you.  

“Getting Potted In The Desert” is a wonderful resource that shows you step-by-step instructions on how to create beautiful potted gardens that will thrive in our desert climate.


While you can find other books that offer helpful advice on how to create potted gardens, “Getting Potted In The Desert” speaks specifically to those of us who live and garden in the desert Southwest where our hot, dry summers bring about special challenges.

Beyond the helpful advice on selecting containers and the right location, the book also talks about plant choices including flowering annuals, perennials, grasses, herbs, succulents and vegetables.


Clear and easy to understand guidelines are given on how to water, fertilize and how to adjust to changing weather conditions including freezing temperatures.  

What’s even better, the guidelines are broken up into monthly guides, making growing plants in pots, easy.

Lists of plants that do well in the desert container garden are also given along with lovely photographs of pots filled with plants, which will inspire you.

Herb Container Garden

The author, Marylee Pangman, has over 20 years of experience growing potted plants in the desert.  In fact, she is a certified Master Gardener and had her own company, “The Contained Gardener”, where she designed and maintained container gardens for clients.

In addition, she has taught numerous classes on growing potted gardens that can withstand hot summers and desert winters.

Flower and Vegetable Container Garden

As a horticulturist who has planted and maintained container gardens over the years, I can tell you that Marylee’s book is a godsend for those who love container gardening and need practical guidance.  

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So, now for the giveaway…

Marylee has graciously offered to send a free copy of “Getting Potted in the Desert” to the winner of this giveaway.

1. To enter, simply leave me a comment about what plant you would like to grow in pots or what you like about container gardening.  
(Be sure to leave your email address if it’s not on your profile, or I won’t have any way to contact you.)

2. For a bonus entry, like me on Facebook or follow me on Twitter – (be sure to let me know in your comment).

Let your friends know about this great giveaway and I will pick a random winner on October 5th.

You can also order your own copy of “Getting Potted In The Desert” and find out more about Marylee at  www.potteddesert.com


*I was provided with a free copy of this book for my honest review.