In spring everyone’s a gardener


by Helen Yoest

Daffodils are dancing to the rhythm of the season, birds are singing a chorus of love, and we humans are channeling our inner soil sister. In spring, everyone is a gardener.

Now’s a great time to feed your gardening soul with a new crop of garden titles whose authors range from First Lady Michelle Obama, encouraging Americans to eat more healthily, to experts, urging the transformation of front yards into garden paradises. Take your pick, let spring move you into the garden, and grow more than ever before.

American Grown, By Michelle Obama, Crown Publishing Group, 2012

The movement to embrace a healthy-eating lifestyle is happening in our own backyards, or even out front, as gardeners are removing lawns and changing what we think about where a garden should be. One of the first things Michelle Obama did as first lady was dig up part of the South Lawn of the White House to plant a vegetable garden. Unthinkable to some, brilliant to others. Obama’s movement led to her book. American Grown is a diary of the White House garden through the seasons. Once inspired, you might want to tear up your own south lawn and start a vegetable garden.

Starter Vegetable Gardens, 24 No-Fail Plans for Small Organic Gardens, By Barbara Pleasant, Storey Publishing, 2010

Barbara Pleasant’s book will give you all you need to plan your own home garden. I’ve been a longtime fan of her no-nonsense writing style. Her approach is friendly, easy to follow, and very useful. Her book details designs and techniques, plus offers up useful conversation about fertilizer, disease, and pests. With this book as guide, you can let this be the year the bite of your first-of-the-season tomato comes from the fruit grown in your very own garden.

Lawn Gone! Low-Maintenance, Sustainable, Attractive Alternatives for Your Yard, By Pam Penick, Random House, 2013

Author Pam Penick points out many reasons to remove your lawn, and while I agree with her, I say do it because it can be beautiful!  Lawn Gone! is an accessible guide for replacing your  lawn with ground cover. Replacing the traditional look of year-round green grass with “the new green” of garden plants can be as lovely as it is eco-friendly. The book has regional plant suggestions for replacing turf grass, and as it happens, I contributed plant recommendations for the Southeast region, choosing those I know are tough as nails, and good-looking, too.

Front Yard Gardens, Growing More Than Grass, by Liz Primeau, Firefly Books, Ltd., 2003

Front Yard Gardens will change the way you think about gardens and their place in the yard. And it may inspire you to show your style and strut your stuff, with its ideas for outdoor design and beauty for everyone to see. With more than 200 photographs, Front Yard Gardens is packed with ideas to transform your garden from grass to plants.

Eat Your Yard! Edible trees, shrubs, vines, herbs and flowers for your landscape, by Nan Chase, Gibbs Smith, 2010

Eat Your Yard! will take you beyond the famous south lawn, beyond your front yard, and even beyond a vegetable plot out back. In fact, Chase will have you creating an entire landscape that is edible with ideas for fruit trees, nut trees, berries, herbs, roses, and wildflowers – all edible, yet disguised as a beautifully landscaped home garden.