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Balcony, Terrace, & Patio Gardening (Gardener's Bookshelf)
Balcony, Terrace, & Patio Gardening (Gardener's Bookshelf)
by Margaret Davis
Edition: Paperback
Price: $17.95
41 used & new from $0.01

20 of 21 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Four stars for text, two stars for photos....., January 21, 2006
BALCONY, TERRACE AND PATIO GARDENING is a friendly little book filled with observations about the "change" in life, when one must, alas, abandon the larger garden and cultivate an appreciation of horticulture on a much smaller scale. Although Margaret Davis is writing from the perspective of one who has had much experience in larger areas and her target audience is the retired individual like herself who faces this prospect of downsizing, her discovery of the positive aspects of working in a reduced space such as a balcony or townhouse lot are relevant to younger folks who find themselves in similar circumstances with desire to grow favorite plants they knew as children.

Ms Davis understands that some of the most difficult aspects of balcony gardening will probably be wind control, equipment storage, and perhaps, if you are located within the 10 feet or so near the ground, pests. However, if you are fortunate enough to have some sunlight you can grow a variety of sun-lovers such as roses and various herbs. Bougainvilla might work if the climate is warm enough and Camillas will thrive in shade. Hanging baskets are a must, and vegetables are not outside the realm of possibility. Ms Davis is thrilled with citrus trees, but I have only managed to kill them. She also says walls have great potential for trellises that can act as plant supports.

The downside of this book is that it is not well illustrated. The text is dotted with very small black and white photos, and the publishers included a small section of color plates in the center of the book, but other than cryptic notes such as "window view" "Chrysanthemum bonsai in Tokyo" the pictures are not terribly well captioned. Some of them are beautiful, like the photo of the fuchia growing on a patio table. The best shot was placed on the cover and shows an actual composition. Buy this book for Ms Davis narrative which is friendly and unassuming.

Container Gardens: Fresh Ideas for Creating Beautiful Potted Gardens
Container Gardens: Fresh Ideas for Creating Beautiful Potted Gardens
by Better Homes and Gardens
Edition: Paperback
67 used & new from $0.01

9 of 9 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Who is the editor??, January 21, 2006
My order said the editor was Cathy Barash, the book says Eleanor Lewis wrote it and Kate Carter Frederick was the editor.

I should have known better than to expect BETTER HOMES AND GARDENS CONTAINER GARDENS would have much of interest to me, but I try to keep an open mind. Unlike many of the "garden magazines" BG relies not on expert garden writers but on its own staff to produce garden copy. Furthermore, the photos in the articles mostly depict overly zestful compositions that distract rather than soothe, which makes me wonder how photography is handled.

In spite of its overall shortcomings (who is in charge? who is writing, i.e. offering advice?), each section of the book has some strengths. In rather detailed chapters, the text discusses, accompanied by photos, the creation of various planting arrangements.

For example, in the "Shallow Bowls" section we are shown which plants to add to the arrangement, how to select and fill the bowl with the planting medium, and how to arrange the plants. In this case an aster, a sedum, a mum, a fern, a variegated ivy, and an ornamental cabbage. Interestingly, although the text explains that the project is "easy" and the time involved is "1 hour" and the zones where this arrangement will work are "3-10", it does not explain that this is a fall arrangement that it can withstand some dryness but will succumb if over-watered, that it will have full sun requirements, and that it will probably not be easy to locate the listed plants "in bloom", as the text suggests, in the early summer months. Rather the text says you should "engage in a bit of advanced planning" and note when plants are at their peak (fall plants peak in autumn). In other words, this may not be an "easy" project for a beginner, but might prove easier for someone like myself who has been gardening a while.

The next few pages of this section suggest various shallow bowl arrangements for different times of the year (although most shown are for spring), which is useful for someone who has been gardening a while and may not have tried primulas in pots (although I have done pansies, arrangements of sedum, and combinations of tulips).

So, the question is who is the target audience? Is it the novice, the intermediate, or the old-timer? I think the novice could use the book, but don't expect it to tell you everything. You might want to buy McGee and Stuckey's BOUNTIFUL CONTAINER as your first book. Buy this one for the photos which aren't all bad.

Gardening in Containers: Creative Ideas from America's Best Gardeners (Fine Gardening Design Guides)
Gardening in Containers: Creative Ideas from America's Best Gardeners (Fine Gardening Design Guides)
by Editors and Contributors of Fine Gardening
Edition: Paperback
Price: $17.95
71 used & new from $0.01

18 of 20 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Beautiful photos, useful text...., January 21, 2006
Now this is a nice book. FINE GARDENING DESIGN GUIDES are nifty because the editors have compiled several of the better articles (sans advertisements) about container gardening found in back issues of FG into "creative ideas from America's best gardeners." GARDENING IN CONTAINERS, for example, includes several pieces by Sydney Eddison, who just published a book on container gardening,that I enjoyed very much, in which her ideas from her various articles were combined (along with many of the same photos), thus, for me at least, these articles are complementary if not redundant. Okay, it never hurts to read something more than once, and the book saves me going through all those back issues of FG, which is why I bought it to begin with, but GARDENING IN CONTAINERS also reminds me of other points of view.

As advertised, the book includes many creative ideas, some of which I noted in passing when I read the original article in my FG magazines, thinking to myself "I'll get back to that." What I would like to get back to is building planting boxes, making willow trellises, and installing a small water garden in a continer (Better Homes and Gardens CONTINER GARDEN has many more ideas for this type of garden). Ideas for all three are included along with photos of topiary and penthouse roof gardens if you are so inclined.

Some but not all of the projects in this book are a bit pricey, but most can be adapted to the smaller purse. They can definitely be used in the smaller spaces.

Rosemary & Thyme - Series Two
Rosemary & Thyme - Series Two
DVD ~ Felicity Kendal
Price: $31.69
16 used & new from $11.52

105 of 106 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Murder and mayhem in the mulch....., January 20, 2006
Watch Rosemary and Thyme for a while and it's hard to refrain from garden metaphors about murder. Public television did a wise thing when they arranged for the viewing of these gals (in our area on Saturday evening). At long last, I feel for the first time in a while, that I am getting my money's worth by donating to my local stations when they have their pledge drive. As a retiree, I watch the Afternoon Tea series on Maryland Public television (British humor) while I clean bird cages, but in the evenings, at least once or twice a week, I like to watch British murder mysteries, (and not the gross products showing up on the BBC channel) which I can get on my local WETA and MPT stations.

Series Two of the DVD episodes includes the recent crop of R&T shows, so if you live out in the hinterland where your local public television or cable doesn't connect you with public television, you can now own your own set of films on DVD. Rosemary Boxer is played by Felicity Kendal, she of `Good Neighbors' fame, and Mrs Laura Thyme is played by Pam Ferris from the Darling Buds of May. Rosemary and Laura formed a gardening partnership after Rosemary lost her job teaching botany in a local university and Laura's DCI husband ran off with a younger woman. The two "gardeners" fell into sleuthing when bodies began appearing at the various sites they were contracted to work.

Series II includes three volumes (each DVD total time = 141 minutes) with several episodes on each for a grand total of eight episodes (one is a two part story). The stories are relatively new, having been shot in 2004 and go as follows:

1/ The Memory of Water (two part episode) - Rosemary and Laura are hired by barrister Martin Frazer to restore a walled garden of his father's museum. Frazer has access to cheap labor from a nearby prison but after the workers arrive, events take a deadly turn when a man is seen jumping into a nearby river.

2/ Orpheus underground - Laura hopes to heal a rift with her grown daughter Helena when she is invited to construct a memorial garden near Helena's home in London's Notting Hill. Soon a body is found in the garden.

3/ They Understand Me in Paris - Rosemary's old friend has invited the gardeners to her house in southern France to restore the 150-year old garden. Some one appears anxious to stop the project and soon bodies appear (Mel Martin plays the old friend).

4/ The Invisible Worm - When R&T go to Stagford Lodge Prep School to investigate dying roses they soon find themselves involved in a strange school ritual involving a stag.

5/ The Gongoozlers - R&T get a taste of the cutthroat world of reality tv when they agree to act as consultants to the host of a garden show. Belinda Lang (Agatha Troy) plays Quinnie Dorrell, the host of the show.

6/ The Italian Rapscallion - Working on the Ligurian coast of Italy, R&T are under pressure to finish a restaurant garden for a new establishment of a friend. As a perk, they visit the nearby Giardini Tremont garden where a body appears. Laura's affection for cats provides a vital clue.

7/ Swords into Plowshares - Why is archeologist Gemma Jackson posing as Rosemary to gain access to Engleton Park?

8/ Up the Garden Path - The picturesque village of Rowfield is a hotbed of turmoil and dissent as the annual garden show approaches. Soon a leading contender is found dead.

This series can best be described as "older chick flick." PBS has finally discovered it's demographic market segment.
Comment Comment (1) | Permalink | Most recent comment: Nov 5, 2010 7:35 PM PDT

Fine Gardening
Fine Gardening
Price: $29.95

41 of 44 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars My second favorite gardening magazine....., January 16, 2006
This review is from: Fine Gardening (Magazine)
I have subscribed to FINE GARDENING for several years, and the only real problem I've encountered is where to house back issues. I have also subscribed to a number of other "gardening" magazines, most of them dropped after the initial subscription period. The exceptions have been THE AMERICAN GARDENER (my favorite gardening magazine) and FINE GARDENING.

Want information on design? You will find many ideas in FG but few are within the reach of the average pocketbook or space permitting. However, unlike other magazines I could name, FG does not limit it's coverage to landed estates or huge houses in Atlanta or Savannah, but covers homeowners all over the US in "regional" features, so occasionally urban gardens are covered.

A nifty thing about FG is that each spine indicates the contents, so as I look though my "stacks" I can find almost any topic covered. For example, the February 1995 issue featured "Hillside Gardens". "Ferns". "Garden Diaries" and "Vines". FG also includes several knowledgeable garden writers on its editorial board.

The downside for FG and many other gardening magazines is that over the years, the text of regular features and articles has been substantially reduced, while the number and size of photos associated with the articles as well as those of advertisers has increased (30 percent of the pages is covered with advertising in the current issue of FG).

If you are seeking first-hand experiences and not "McNuggets" sponsored by gas-guzzling garden tools, you will find fewer and fewer of them in most of the more comercial garden magazines (mags without a "botanical" society-based sponsor).

I am a great fan of photos, but photos have their downside too. I have been gardening a long time so I can look at a photo and usually identify the plants shown...but can every reader do this? Unfortunately, too many of the copy editors know nothing about gardening, thus, too often, the captions they have overseen for photos are misleading. FG does a pretty good job of avoiding this problem, but AG is the best.

The AMERICAN GARDENER tends to include essays by home gardeners (many in urban areas with small yard issues) rather than focusing on the travails of designers working on landed estates or home owners with comparatively large spreads (how many of us have a few dozen acres to "garden"?

AG also favors organic practices and reflects this in its advertising (the current January/February 2006 issue includes articles on "Earth-friendly weeding techniques" as well as "A Plant Buff's Guide to Plant Sales" and a side bar examining top "weed" problems in regional areas).

AG is very plant based and conducts "performance trials" of various new plant introductions, so you can benefit from the "on-the-job" hands-on experince of horticulturalists working at River Farm (HQ of AG) in the Eastern US (Alexandria VA), as well as learn about recent research by plant scientists from all over the US.

THE AMERICAN GARDENER is published by the American Horticultural Society and is the PBS of the gardening world -- comprehensive, in-depth, and earth-friendly (some advertisement but it does not overwhelm--about 12 percent in the current issue, and most of it on behalf of small and/or earth-friendly organizations).

If you can only afford one gardening magazine join the American Horticultural Association and receive their monthly magazine. If you can afford more than one, FINE GARDENING is also a good bet.

Hetty Wainthropp Investigates - The Complete Third Series
Hetty Wainthropp Investigates - The Complete Third Series
DVD ~ Patricia Routledge
22 used & new from $1.71

43 of 45 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars She's back in form......., January 14, 2006
Yes, I love Hetty and as soon as Acorn releases a new set I am the first in line to buy it. So...I have purchased my new Series III and I love it. Three volumes (disks) and nine new episodes.

This set includes:

1/ All Stitched Up -- When a delinquent terrorizes a neighborhod, the police are helpless as frightened victims refuse to testify against him. Posing as the Irish sister-in-law of one of the residents Hetty infiltrates the local quilting circle to get the lowdown. Di's comment: Only Hetty could infiltrate a quilting circle.

2/ Daughter of the Regiment -- A military wife hires Hetty to identify a mysterious photographer who is stalking the woman's daughter. Tipped that an Australian is involved Hetty and Geoffry go undercover as 'Aussies'. Di's Comment. One of my favorites, stars Mel Martin.

3/ Serving the Community -- A leader in the local (jacket says 'Indian', but I believe they were Pakistani immigrants and their families) recruits Hetty to investigate a string of muggings and then Hetty herself is mugged! The plot thickens when Robert becomes the recipient of stolen goods.

4/ Fisticuffs -- After a minor fender-bender involving two women, one lets the other have it and zips off in her red Alfa Romeo. The battered victim as Hetty to help her identify her assailant. Geoffrey tracks down the Alfa and meets Janet, the mechanic who has been working on the car.

5/ Childsplay -- A quick visit to relatives turns into a longer stay for Hetty when her young nephew gets expelled from school for drug possession. Hetty enlists Geoffrey to infiltrate a suspicious gang led by a schoolyard bully named Bomber.

6/ Pursuit by Proxy -- Hetty is hired to track down a bankrupt furniture owner. The job is complicated by her meddling brother-in-law, Frank, who has come to stay and insists on "helping" the agency while Robert is away visiting their son in Australia.

7/ A Minor Operation -- Hetty is in the hospital recovering from surgery on her varicose veins. Meanwhile DCI Adams is keeping an eye on an ailing prisoner. Hetty goes into action from her hospital bed when the DCI is accused of sexual harrassment.

8/ Helping Hansi -- A German pensioner asks Hetty to track down his sister,whom he last saw during the war when she was escaping to England. When Hetty visits Hansi in the nursing home, she discovers he is being cruelly taunted by the other residents.

9/ How Time Flies -- Frank finally takes his leave and treats Hetty to a day out at a local steam railway museum as a parting gift. A frantic call makes it a working trip.

Miele S4210 Galaxy Canister Vacuum Cleaners
Miele S4210 Galaxy Canister Vacuum Cleaners

116 of 118 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars This vacuum sucks!!, January 7, 2006
After almost 24 years, my husband and I decided to rid ourselves of the vacuum cleaners we brought to the marrriage. Last year, I bought a huge upright vacuum for heavy cleaning and went through a string of cordless sweepers for day to day operations. None of the latter suited me for heavy cleaning, and they barely functioned on a daily basis after few days of work. Having had a stroke last year I am not as capable as I once was of man-handling a 25-lb or heavier gizmo, and my 76-year old husband, owns a back that "goes out" every time the house needs vacuuming. So, finding the various sweepers insufficient and the upright too heavy, I began to search in earnest for something light-weight that would also perform.

I love the Miele vacuum cleaner S 4000: 1/it weighs 11 lbs and I can manipulate it easily; it meets the standards set for vacuum cleaners by Canada and the EU.....environmentally friendly with a fine filtration system, so I don't spend the whole time sneezing; 3/ it is a low energy-usage instrument; 4/ the machine is so quiet, I caught my husband going out the front door while I was vacuuming, and I could hear my cell phone ring and answer it and speak with and hear the caller; 5/ the head is so flexible, it goes this way and that under bird cages and across floors and rugs (I have floor cloths and a few Persian scatter rugs). 6/ the wand snaps upright onto the canister for storage and resting while you stop.

Best of all this vacuum sucks like a big upright (it may be better!). I have 14 parrots, a flock of canaries and three about feathers, food, and fur..and this little light-weight machine does the trick, however, and leaves the floor clean. It's so light-weight I will use it for "everyday".

Olympic Wandering: Time Travel Through Greece
Olympic Wandering: Time Travel Through Greece
by David Lundberg
Edition: Hardcover
Price: $15.02
36 used & new from $0.01

2 of 3 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars One man's Greece....., December 17, 2005
It became clear to me reading OLYMPIC WANDERING that David Lundberg loves Greece, or maybe I should call it Magna Grecia as he spends part of the book wandering over to Turkey. The best parts of the book are the sections where he describes his own experiences. The less likeable part from my perspective is the retelling of the Homeric tale. I suspect my prejudice lies in the fact that I am a woman, and as a woman, don't think the Greeks had any business attacking Troy because Helen grew tired of her husband (or was this a trumped up excuse for war?).

One of my good friends and work colleagues spent many hours in Greece on a succession of trips over several years. He suggested to me that my favorite spot might turn out to be Crete should I ever make the trip. Unfortunately, Lundberg does not spend enough time with Crete, which I would have enjoyed, but rather discusses the spots visited by Ulysses and his ship mates. Another aspect of the book I would have liked to have seen enhanced would have been illustrations and possibly photos. I have a calendar with plenty of photos showing the blue sea and white stucco filled hillsides. To bad the folks who printed this small volume where not more generous with the pictures.

Bulbs in Containers
Bulbs in Containers
by Rod Leeds
Edition: Hardcover
Price: $29.95
50 used & new from $0.01

14 of 14 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Wonderful book..., December 17, 2005
This review is from: Bulbs in Containers (Hardcover)
BULBS IN CONTAINERS by Rod Leeds, is a wonderful little book filled with all sorts of ideas for containing your bulb collection, and the most entrancing work on bulbs since Elizabeth Lawrence wrote her book 'The Little Bulbs'. Filled with illustrations showing a variety of containers holding relatively uncommon bulbs such as various South African Hypoxis plants, this book provided me with many ideas. Bulbs aside, the second most intriguing aspect of Leeds' bulb arrangements are the containers themselves. He includes the ubiquitous clay pot in many interesting displays, along with unique pots such as a `shallow hypertufa sink'. Leeds suggests using various pots for free-standing specimens placed on tables, rocks or in the garden, or in displays with other pots, or in larger pots as a contrasting highlight with a shrub backdrop.

Leeds includes many beautiful photos of his own collection as well as explanatory text including a section of about 80 pages of text where he discusses various bulb genera suitable for containers.

Unfortunately for some of us, Leeds is based in England and the bulb suppliers he sources in an appendix are located in his home country for the most part, however, many have an email address and/or internet site. Although I have not ordered any bulbs from these sources, I suspect at least one of them might ship to the US, however, the USDA may prohibit transport some of the more exotic items. On the other hand, I know I can find some of the less exotic bulbs such as Galanthus through US bulb suppliers like Scheepers and Herronwood. Caveats aside, Leeds' book is an excellent addition to the garden library.

Flowerpots: A Seasonal Guide to Planting, Designing, and Displaying Pots
Flowerpots: A Seasonal Guide to Planting, Designing, and Displaying Pots
by Jim Keeling
Edition: Hardcover
66 used & new from $0.55

3 of 5 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars About clay pots and their contents......, December 17, 2005
FLOWERPOTS `A seasonal guide to planting, designing and displaying pots' by potter and British author Jim Keeling discusses the many facets of pot design, production and use. Keeling includes text and photos describing the phases of pot production at his facility at Whichford, England 1) as the preparation of the various materials - local clay and clays from the Thames Valley and Staffordshire; 2) molding and shaping techniques using the potter's wheel and other pot formation techniques; 3) the eventual destinies of many kinds of pots from those used to hold small seedlings in greenhouses, to large clay pots suitable for a wonderful display of blooming apple trees, to works of art composed of clay pots of various sizes or assembled into garden sculpture or an arrangement of containers filled with colorful plants. The photography in Keeling's book is beautiful with many up-close shots as well as a few `ebullient' photos from displays at the annual Chelsea affair showing lovely and colorful flower arrangements sure to peak your interest and inspire you.

Keeling discusses the life of pots as containers relative to weather conditions, not only addressing adjustments to the swings in hot and cold temperatures associated with the seasons as we have traditionally known them, but picturing the gardeners life as she adjusts to effects of the of secular trend known as Global Warming. If you want to understand more about the possibilities of clay pots as containers and works of art, begin here.
Comment Comments (2) | Permalink | Most recent comment: Sep 5, 2008 9:33 AM PDT

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