Nov 282011
Grateful Garden Gazebo
                             We give thanks for the gift of having a garden

At this time of year when we celebrate winter holidays we give thanks for the our family and friends.  For those of us with a dry roof and warm  home, we have much to be thankful for.

Chard in winter

If on top of that we have a garden that grows beautiful plants and delicious, healthy food, we have even more to be grateful for. When joining friends for dinner, it feels special to bring over a dish made from something we grew in the garden, whether it’s a simple squash soup or an apple crisp.

The better we take care of our gardens, the better they take care of us. With each conscious decision to improve our soil, make compost out of scraps, to deal with pests without pesticides and weeds without herbicides we take small steps forward towards recovering the health of the earth and ourselves. We benefit from our work, but also our larger community benefits.

The garden gives us options every day to make the world a little bit better.  A little more beautiful.  A little more healthy.

I feel grateful for the younger generation that is passionate about taking care of the earth. Climbing trees helps give a good perspective on life.


Climbing trees is a wonderful thing

A fresh view on the world


Let me know what you’re grateful for in your garden.


Nov 152011
Inspiring writing by Wendy Johnson

Wendy Johnson knows her gardening and her spirit

Truthfully, I don’t read very many gardening books. I prefer to putter in the the garden. But every now and then, one comes along that demands my attention. Wendy Johnson’s, Gardening at the Dragon’s Gate: At Work in the Wild and Cultivated World, is one of those books.

She has formidable experience in the garden, having been the head of Zen Center’s garden for many years.  She studied with the great Alan Chadwick and Harry Roberts.

In this book she combines her experience in the garden with her life as a student of Zen Buddhism. Her writing is lyrical, practical and,thank god, humorous.

I know you will learn a lot from Wendy’s experience and enjoy reading about her life at the Dragon’s Gate. It’s a perfect book for a long winter evening.


Looking inside the book

Colorful pots and plants that fit the conditions

In a practical vein, I highly recommend this book by Paul Williams called  Container Gardening. It concentrates on ornamental plantings.  He clearly lays out many types of plants and planters for every condition, from full sun to complete shade.

This is my go to book when showing clients what can be done with color and form in a pot near the house.

You’ll be very inspired, I guarantee it.

Paths are an important part of every garden.  Designing and building a path can be tricky, if it is to be both beautiful and durable.  One of the books I’ve found that can help you choose a path that you can build yourself and is appropriate for the site is Garden Paths, by Gordon Hayward. It is well illustrated and full of inspiring ideas.

Any  of these books will make  a wonderful gift for your gardening enthusiast.


How to build and design garden paths

A book with simple and beautiful path ideas

Inspiring designs for planting in containers

Best use of color and form in a book on container gardening

Aug 292011

What are your favorite gardening books? Inspirational,  How- to or Reference? I’ve got books in each category that I consider top of the line.

Reference Books and How-to:

Informational and interesting book on edible landscaping

Designing and Maintaining Your Edible Landscape Naturally by Robert Kourik was first written in 1986 and is still absolutely essential for anyone wanting to have an edible landscape at home. Robert has done his homework and you will find everything from designing parameters to edible plants, planting zones and organic solutions in his book.  I’ve been using it myself for 25 years. This book is neither out of date nor out of print. Get it today!



Sunset Western Garden Book by the Editors of Sunset books and Sunset Magazine, is the must have reference books for plants and plant selection for the Western United States. It has climate zones, plants selection by theme, and difficult landscaping situations, a western plant encyclopedia and a resource directory. I really couldn’t live without it.

The Complete Book of Edible Landscaping by Rosalind Creasy, first written in 1982 and updated in 2010 is also full of excellent information.


Green Thoughts by Eleanor Perenyi.  First published  in 1981, this masterpiece has now been updated as part of the Modern Library Gardening Series. Perényi’s lively and engaging essays address topics of infinite interest to gardeners (azaleas, onions, mulch, and pests among them) and offer a timeless glimpse of the exhilarating, opinionated world of gardening.  I really love this book.

Gardening at the Dragon’s Gate, by Wendy Johnson. For more than thirty years, Wendy Johnson has been gardening and meditating at the Green Gulch Farm Zen Center in northern California. She has a wealth of practical and thoughtful information on gardening, both the garden in the soil and the garden of the soul. This book is destined to be a classic in the tradition of nature writing. She is a wonderful evocative writer, and has no lack of humor.



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