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Courier Articles by Sandy Schultheis
Sunday, April 18, 1999

Cultivate a Taste for Gardening Books

Every year about this time people start visiting the library in search of books for garden inspiration or help in dealing with such practicalities as lawn mower maintenance. As for myself, I am not a gardener. While my husband deals with the serious work of getting the vegetables started and fruit trees sprayed I plan the color schemes of the flowers. If I can get a small bed of salvia planted, and a few pots filled with petunias I will feel that I've had my gardening experience for the year. For those of you who aren't gardeners, you will find some fiction with a garden theme at the bottom of this list, and of course all these books are available through your public library.

The Essential Garden Book by Terence Conran and Dan Pearson (Three Rivers Press, 1998).

Famous designer Conran, teams up with one of Britain's best young gardening experts to briefly cover a multitude of garden topics, from lighting to woodland planting. Of course they make sound easy but you will be enchanted by the wonderful photos and illustrations in this outsized book. I'm not going to tell my husband about this for fear he will want to re-design our yard.

Taylor's Guide to Growing North America's Favorite Plants by Barbara W. Ellis (Houghton Mifflin, 1998).

A big, colorful book, this landmark work is designed to answer all the questions you have about growing the most popular garden plants. A techniques glossary gives step-by-step instructions for jobs such as planting, dividing, and propagating. 400 color photos make a beautiful as well as practical reference of interest to every gardener.

Cultivating Sacred Space: Gardening for the Soul by Elizabeth Murray (Pomegranate, 1997).

Your garden can be a space that gives you spiritual comfort and here is a book that will inspire you with wonderful photographs, poems and art. Arranged by seasons starting with Winter, the time of gestation when life is dormant but the promise of spring comes with the first snowdrops and crocuses, through Autumn's time of harvest you will find this a resource for your spirit as well as your back yard.

Man Eating Bugs by Peter Menzel and Faith D'Aluisio (Ten Speed Press, 1999).

Two years ago I reviewed a book called The Compleat Cockroach which I thought was fascinating in a revolting kind of way. Now from the authors of Material World comes a really outrageous book. The title refers not to bugs that eat men, but insects from around the world that people actually eat. From scorpion ranches in China to roasted tarantulas in Venezuela, the photos will make you gasp if you can stand to look at them. Recipes included.

The Writer in the Garden edited by Jane Garmey (Algonquin Books, 1999).

A group of more than fifty writers from Henry Thoreau to Charles Kuralt talk about the pleasures and trials of both city and country gardens. An unusually attractive little book which will provide hours of pleasant reading on rainy days when gardeners have to stay indoors.

The Garden Tour Affair by Ann Ripley (Bantam Books, 1999)

While filming a garden in Connecticut for her TV program, producer and sleuth Louise Eldridge is called to investigate the murder of a specialist in plant engineering. Lots of details on gardens and gardening make an especially informative mystery that is number four in a series.

Night Gardening by E.L. Swann (Hyperion, 1999).

A love story inspired by the children's classic A Secret Garden. While recovering from an illness, Maggie a sixtyish widow works at restoring her garden. She meets a handsome landscape architect and their friendship blooms into romance. The author, writing under a pseudonym, is in reality Kathryn Lasky an award-winning author of children's books. A book for all the people who tell me I don't mention enough romantic fiction.

Sandy Schultheis is a librarian with the Evansville-Vanderburgh Public Library. The opinions expressed in this column are personal and do not reflect policies or official recommendations of EVPL.