How to - Gardening Basics

Fast forward to spring

Get some green thumb inspiration from these DVD reviews

Sheer beauty
Wisley Through the Seasons (a four-part series) documents a year in the life of the Royal Horticultural Society's garden in Surrey, England, established in 1904. A grand garden hosting 600,000 visitors per year, Wisley has the added attraction of its herbarium, international plant trials and seed identification, registration and collection functions. The Members' Advisory Service receives over 4,000 parcels of ravaged foliage annually for identification (live pests included). Each season presents us with a different set of spectacular vistas to behold as well as a new cast of highly trained staff to share their expertise. While each video can stand alone, you might want to start with spring.

Botanist and horticulturist David E. Benner's Made in the Shade, with its moss lawns and philosophy of low maintenance, demonstrates the rich possibilities of the shade garden on his Pennsylvania property, which is included among 33 top private gardens in the world in Architectural Digest's book, Gardens.

In Creating the Romantic Garden, Ryan Gainey, who is an award-winning garden designer, author of The Well-Placed Weed and host of the PBS series of the same name, takes us on a contemplative stroll through his delightful cottage garden in Atlanta, Georgia.

It may be too early to unwind in your garden, but at least you can rewind to the garden of your dreams-again and again.

Planning and design
Whether your garden is the size of a postage stamp or a football field, The Art and Practice of Gardening (a six-volume series hosted by British garden designer, plantswoman and author Penelope Hobhouse) provides grist for your aesthetic mill. Hobhouse visits with fellow luminaries, including Rosemary Verey (the late garden designer and writer) and rosarian Graham Thomas, and travels to English, Irish and American gardens to demonstrate specific design principles. The six volumes (42 minutes each) are entitled Structural Elements / Visions of Nature; Color in the Garden / Flower Gardens; Country Garden / The Useful Garden; Planting the Bones of a Garden / The Summer Garden; Roses for the Garden / The Smaller Garden; and New Garden Ideas / Nurseries and Plant Collections.

The “bones” segment in volume 4 uses the topiary garden at Pierre S. du Pont's Longwood, near Wilmington, Delaware, to show “living architecture”-strong, vertical plantings framing archways, flanking stairways and creating garden rooms. The pyramidal yews and weeping butterfly bush (Buddleja alternifolia) are especially effective. The walled kitchen garden at Forde Abbey (volume 3) features a glorious bounty of vegetables and sweet peas. In addition to Hobhouse's new gravel garden, volume 6 explores the meadow-scape designs of Wolfgang Oehme and Jim van Sweden, landscape architects based in Washington, D.C., whose firm has pioneered the movement toward naturalistic, informal design in American gardening. Famous meadowscapes include Oprah Winfrey's farm in La Porte County, Indiana.

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