Garden magazines and other winter occupations

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Ah, November. A little time to breathe and do something besides the hard physical work of gardening. Like, read seed catalogs and go slightly mad with imagining all the things I’ll grow next year. And read gardening magazines–actually read them, not just flip through them and hope to remember them when there’s more time. My best favorite garden magazine is BBC Gardener’s World. The big glossy British magazine is obviously not cold-climate, but it is all in color, loads of photos, actually 12x a year, and many more pages than any of the US things. It is informative and good for the creative juices to see what people not in my neighborhood are doing. And they send a stunning calendar every December as a present. The several pages each month devoted to tv and radio listings of gardening ‘programmes’ makes me quite envious—they are a garden-happy culture.

Next in line is Canadian GardeningCanada, too, is garden-happier than the US. Since I was a child I remember our trips to Kootenay Lake in BC and marvelling at the gardens along the roadside–homemade tourist attractions, every one.

I gave up Organic Gardening magazine because it exceeded my monthly reading requirement of exclamation points , and (gasp) gave up Horticulture when it became too obviously “kill&spray&force your garden to behave”–too many abstruse formal things & topiary for me, the descendent of a long line of hamadryads or chickadees or something. I like a tangly garden.

I subscribe to several on-line gardening e-groups. Currently on Alpine-L, generally a very useful & informative thing, there has been high dudgeon regarding USDA hardiness zones. The folks most derisive I note live in non-freezing winter climates. I figure if I really want a plant I’ll try it anyway if it is within a Zone or 2 of mine, but I like having an idea of whether it would turn to slime come April before I spend money on it. I think we often demand more surety than is possible in life, and one of the things I respect and love about gardening is the uncertainty, surprise, and view into the unknown it gives me.

On that note, here is my favorite garden-related book, surely available on good used book sites though long out of print:
This Green World by Rutherford Platt, published in 1943. This book will have you outside in every weather, bringing in leaves to examine with a lens, craning your neck to look at tree trunk assembly, gazing into flowers and amazed by seed pods. The relationships between leaf & stem architecture and math, the behaviour of bees & flowers. . .decidedly well written and a book to keep by the fireside.

About the Author

USDA Hardiness Zone: 4b/5aLocation: rural; just south of British Columbia/Idaho borderGeographic type: foot of Black & Clifty Mountains (foothills of Rockies–the Wet Columbia Mountains in BC climate- speak)Soil type:acid sand (glacial lake bed)/coniferous forestExperience level: intermediate/professionalParticular interests: fragrant & edible plants, hardy bulbs, cottage gardening, alpines, peonies, penstemons & other blue flowers, primulas, antique & species roses & iris; nocturnal flowers Also: owner of Paradise Gardens Rare Plant Nursery

In the end, this may be the most important thing about frost: Frost slows us down. In spring, it tempers our eagerness. In fall, it brings closure and rest. In our gotta-go world–where every nanosecond seems to count–slowness can be a great gift. So rather than see Jack Frost as an adversary, you could choose to greet him as a friend.

~Philip Harnden in A Gardener’s Guide to Frost: Outwit the Weather and Extend the Spring and Fall Seasons

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