Five Essential Books for the Global Gardener

Morning Glory really brightens up chain link fencing.

Before we begin, I need to define what I mean by a "global gardener." So let's get "garden" down first, and then we'll move on to the "global" part.

From Merriam-Webster:

Definition of GARDEN
1a: a plot of ground where herbs, fruits, flowers, or vegetables are cultivated
b: a rich well-cultivated region
c: a container (as a window box) planted with usually a variety of small plants2 
2a: a public recreation area or park usually ornamented with plants and trees <a botanical garden>
b: an open-air eating or drinking place
c: a large hall for public entertainment

So here we have not just the small, personal, reflective spaces belonging to a homeowner, but the community spaces that produce food, entertainment and general carousing. The only thing these varieties of gardens have in common is plants, and in the case of 2b and 2c, we don't even have a commitment to the plants. 

What is your definition of a garden? I confess that sports stadiums don't come up on my radar as "gardens!"

Now let's add the appropriate definition for global:

of, relating to, or involving the entire world

. Yep, all of it. I think the Global Gardener has a little trouble staying in her own yard, bless her. And aren't we glad? The GG wants to make everywhere more beautiful, joyous and full of life. Every public space. Every home garden.  We need to clone the woman! (Or the man. I fully admit the world is full of wonderful male gardeners!)

But since cloning isn't that advanced, yet, I've got some books for you instead. These are the ones I keep close at hand for inspiration and reminders on what we human animals need from our spaces. For analysis, I'm including only what I think the Global Gardener would find worthwhile in the intent/scope of the book.

So here are the five books I have chosen for your bookcase, arranged by date of publication. I feel so strongly about

Attracting Native Pollinators

that I have included the Xerces Society link so you can go immediately and purchase the book. Do not dither. You don't even have to keep reading, go on and order it and you can come back here later. Further, beyond my own brief summaries, the Resources include links to the best review I could locate for each of these tomes.

Bat-Faced Cuphea--great for kids.

A Child's Garden

 -- Enchanting Outdoor Spaces for Children and Parents.

Dannenmaier, Molly. 

A Child's Garden

. Singapore: Simon & Schuster, 1998.

A Child's Garden

helps remind us what kids really need in "play," and it's not a bunch of plastic toys. Writer Dannenmaier delightfully maps out strategies for engagement. As stated in the linked review, "spaces that foster curiosity and imagination" are the goal. Think back a bit. Weren't you able to have a rollicking good time with a few sticks and an empty box? Put that in the context of an outdoor space, and you have magic for young minds. As a hint, here are headings for some of the sections of the book: Creatures, Refuges, Dirt, Heights, Movement, Make-Believe, Nurture, Learning. If you love kids, you'll love this book.

Native bees benefit from yarrow. 

Bringing Nature Home

-- How Native Plants Sustain Wildlife in Our Gardens

Tallamy, Douglas W.

Bringing Nature Home

. Portland: Timber Press, 2007.

Bringing Nature Home

has become a bible, of sorts, for native plant evangelists such as myself. It was one of the first really good resources for figuring out what plants created the greatest benefit for the most species. The book's biggest asset: sound science, and tables of plants for you to refer to time and time again when deciding what your next acquisition really needs to be. Any native plant is good--but when money and space are scarce--who (which life form) is most important to you? What native plant will help you support that species? Woody plant most able to support multiple (517!) species of butterfly? Oak! Tallamy makes the arguments for native plants and why we, as homeowners, need to get in the game. If you don't already own this book, well, why not?

Students giddily explore a quilt garden.

Asphalt to Ecosystems

-- Design Ideas for Schoolyard Transformation

Danks, Sharon Gamson.

Asphalt to Ecosystems

. Oakland: New Village Press, 2010.

The design ideas in

Asphalt to Ecosystems

come from 150 different countries. This is NOT your average "build an outdoor classroom" narrative. Winner of an Honor Award from the American Society of Landscape Architects (ASLA), Danks has crafted a call to action to make schoolyards a vital part of the learning resources available to students everywhere. From the ASLA Awards page, "...the book... brims with design ideas, practical tips and strategies for engaging school communities as stewards of their shared public space." Given that time outdoors improves the academic performance of minority students and students with ADHD, this one should be required reading for anyone in education, including local school boards.

Attracting Native Pollinators

 -- Protecting North America's Bees and Butterflies

Xerces Society, The. 

Attracting Native Pollinators

. North Adams: Storey Publishing, 2011

Attracting Native Pollinators

is such a beautifully structured book, with such a rich depth of information, that if you are like me it's going to end up with sticky notes sprouting all over it. As the Metropolitan Field Guide says, "It has solidly placed itself as

the

reference book for designing and attracting pollinators." One of the big "AHA" explosions in my brain after reading just the first section was about the lopsided apples you will commonly see at the grocery store, now--a sign of incomplete pollination. Accessible writing with tons of research behind it--best. textbook. ever.

(

Photo at right--built habitat for solitary bees--successfully occupied in the first year after construction and beyond.

)

Walkable City

-- How Downtown Can Save America, One Step At a Time

Speck, Jeff.

Walkable City

. New York: Farrar, Straus and Giroux, 2012.

A new pedestrian garden on a decommissioned bridge. 

Walkable City

is the book recommendation that may make you scratch your head--until you read it. Those whose lives have carried them to cities of many sizes will probably make the most instant connections with this book. Regardless, the insights you will gain in city planning (small cities count!), economic development and the building of the conceptual community are all worth the read. If you wish to have an impact on public spaces where you live, Walkable City is a great way to learn the language you will need. You will never look at your own home town the same way again.

(

At right, work in progress at Chimney Rock in NC, where an old bridge--no longer adequate for modern highway needs--was decommissioned and converted to a pedestrian garden space to enable tourists and others to cross the river safely and walk to town assets.

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What would you add to this list? What are your essential resources? Let us know in the comments!

Resources:

Merriam-Webster

,

Metropolitan Field Guide

,

ASLA 2012 Professional Awards

,

Project for Public Spaces

,

Epinions

,

Wild Ones

Bottlebrush Buckeye

Bottlebrush Buckeye

Never Saw Me

Never Saw Me