Wasps are important contributors to garden ecology – as pollinators, or incidental pollinators, of native plants, and as beneficial insects preying on other insects that damage crops and plants. Wasps: Their Biology, Diversity, and Role as Beneficial Insects and Pollinators of Native Plants (Wasps) by Heather Holm, provides a detailed look at these intriguing insects.
The Master Gardener's Bookshelf
Interested in growing your own vegetables, but no yard? No problem. Vegetables can be grown successfully in containers any place with enough sun -- on balconies, patios, driveways, rooftops, front porches, or indoors with sufficient or supplemental light. There are many books about vegetable container gardening. Two of the more recent are Tiny Victory Gardens: Growing food without a yard by Acadia Tucker with Emily Castle and How to Grow Your Own Food—An Illustrated Beginner’s Guide to Container Gardening by Angela S. Judd.
For many gardeners, reading about gardening and plants is the next best thing to working in their own garden or tending their containers or houseplants. If you are looking for a special book to give your favorite gardener this holiday season, consider one of the following Extension Master Gardener favorites.
If you are looking for planting strategies with the potential to improve the productivity of your vegetable garden, or if you have heard about “companion planting” and want to know what science supports, Plant Partners by Jessica Walliser is a good resource.
If National House Plant Appreciation Day (Jan. 10) got you thinking about getting a house plant for the first time or if you are looking for easy-to-grow house plants to expand your existing collection, The Indestructible House Plant: 200 Beautiful Plants that Everyone Can Grow by Tovah Martin is a great resource.
Jennifer Jewell’s The Earth in Her Hands—75 Extraordinary Women Working in the World of Plants profiles 75 women in eight countries who are changing what we know about, and how we interact with, plants in everyday life. Jewell’s goal was to highlight the diversity of women working with plants, and the many ways they do so, and she succeeds admirably.
Homegrown Pantry is a guide to planning, growing, and preserving vegetables, fruits, and herbs, with the goal of eating from your garden throughout the year. You will enjoy browsing through the pages and admire the beautiful photos, in addition to benefiting from all the excellent advice.
Our book reviewer, Susan Wilhelm, shares how reading Doug Tallamy's most recent book, Nature's Best Hope, has impacted how she gardens.
While you may know Emily Dickinson as a poet, you may not know that she was also a gardener. In Emily Dickinson’s Gardening Life—The Plants and Places That Inspired the Iconic Poet, author Marta McDowell provides a fascinating look at Dickinson’s life and how gardening and the natural world informed her poetry.
We who live in the DC-Metro area are fortunate to be surrounded by many wonderful historical gardens, such as Mount Vernon, Hillwood, and Tudor Place. Among these are the gardens at the White House. All the Presidents’ Gardens: Madison’s Cabbages to Kennedy’s Roses—How the White House Grounds Have Grown with America (All the President’s Gardens) by Marta McDowell is a fascinating history of the White House grounds and gardens and how they evolved over time.
Understanding light (how much, how little, or what kind) is critical to growing plants indoors successfully, whether seedlings, house plants, vegetables, herbs, or succulents. You can learn about light and how to build simple do-it-yourself grow lights for seed starting by consulting "Gardening Under Lights" by Leslie F. Halleck, reviewed here by Susan Wilhelm.
New Landscaping Ideas that Work by landscape architect Julie Moir Messervy breaks the design process into parts and showing how each part contributes to a landscape that meets a homeowner’s specific needs and goals. Read more of EMG Susan Wilhelm's review.
Fall is the optimal time to plant trees and shrubs in Northern Virginia. If you are interested in planting native trees or shrubs, Essential Native Trees and Shrubs for the Eastern United States: The Guide to Creating a Sustainable Landscape, by Tony Dove and Ginger Woolridge, is a helpful resource to determine which native trees or shrubs will succeed in your garden. Read more of EMG Susan Wilhelm's review.
If reading about (or visiting) native plant gardens has whetted your appetite for growing native plants in your own yard (or on your patio or balcony), you will enjoy this book review of Native Plants of the Southeast by Larry Mellichamp.
At the time Vegetables Love Flowers: Companion Planting for Beauty and Bounty was published in 2018, author Lisa Mason Zeigler had been operating a commercial cut -flower farm in Newport News, Virginia, for 19 years. Her cut flower beds are interspersed among her vegetable beds. She does not use pesticides. Instead, she has worked over time to build a garden eco-system which relies on natural processes to grow strong, healthy vegetable plants and gorgeous flowers for cutting.
If you have ever been tempted to purchase one of those seed packages promising an instant meadow garden, you will benefit from doing a little research first. One of the sources you might consult is Sowing Beauty—Designing Flowering Meadows from Seed by James Hitchmough.
Book Review of Life in the Soil: A Guide for Naturalists and Gardeners by James B. Nardi. - Thanks to Master Naturalist Kathleen Luisa for sharing her article.
"This is one of the best, most thorough and most completely enjoyable books I've read on, well, dirt."