How does your garden grow?

New books offer inspiration for gardens big and small

Created date

November 5th, 2018
Gardens of the Arts & Crafts Movement highlights Sunk Garden at Great Dixter in Notingham, England, the family home of gardener and gardening writer Christopher Lloyd.

Gardens of the Arts & Crafts Movement highlights Sunk Garden at Great Dixter in Notingham, England, the family home of gardener and gardening writer Christopher Lloyd.

Outside, the ground is frozen solid, and icicles, not leaves, hang from tree branches. But even the coldest days of winter won’t keep avid gardeners from pursuing their passion.

Some turn their attention toward indoor container gardens. Others spend the winter months planning next year's crop. The frosty months spent indoors give green thumbs a chance to dream, to imagine all the possibilities of what they will grow come springtime.

Whether tending acres of land or a collection of terra-cotta pots artfully placed on an apartment balcony, a trio of new books offers gardeners of all stripes inspiration and ideas during the cold days of winter.

Sanctuary spaces

Author Jessi Bloom says she sees herself as a “connecting point between people and their environments, an interpreter between humans and nature.”

In the introduction to her book Creating Sanctuary: Sacred Garden Spaces, Plant-Based Medicine and Daily Practices to Achieve Happiness and Well-Being (Timber Press, 2018), Bloom says, “My intention in this book is to help you transform your life by caring for nature in the space you already have and learning to use its simple, powerful gifts effectively.”

Filled with great photos by Shawn Linehan, Creating Sanctuary illustrates how you can create your very own Eden, paradise, or holy ground regardless of how much space you have to work with.

A sanctuary garden is a place of healing—a retreat from the stress of everyday life. It’s where you connect with nature, so what you plant in that space is vitally important. To help you choose what works for you and your space, Bloom shares her knowledge of 50 sacred plants.

Oaks, for example, symbolize strength, courage, and ancient knowledge and were considered sacred by both the Druids and the Celts.

Passionflower, a vine with big showy blooms that attract important pollinators like bats, hummingbirds, and bees is also believed to attract friendship and love.

Tulsi or holy basil is commonly used as a healing herb and is frequently found in herbal teas. The roots and stems of the tulsi plant are used to make Hindu prayer beads because the plant is believed to have sacred properties.

Bloom also offers instructions for how to use the plants from your sanctuary garden to make various healing potions. There’s a recipe for moon time tea made with dried raspberry leaf and chamomile. If your soul craves something stronger, there’s also a recipe for red clover tincture made with dried clover flowers and 160-proof vodka.

Arts and crafts gardens

The Arts and Crafts Movement emerged in the late 1800s as a reaction to the proliferation of factories in Britain. In America, the style is more commonly referred to as American Craftsman. While mostly associated with architecture and decorative arts, the movement also made its mark on landscape design.

Judith B. Tankard’s Gardens of the Arts & Crafts Movement (Timber Press, 2018) explores the magnificent gardens and landscape design influenced by the movement’s most celebrated artists, William Morris and Gertrude Jekyll.

The gardens showcased in the book are awe-inspiring and impossibly out of reach for today’s average gardener, but that doesn’t mean the book is purely aspirational.

“Although few people today would replicate a period Arts and Crafts house and garden,” Tankard says, “The movement’s basic concepts continue to inspire homeowners and garden designers. Whether the house is an Edwardian manor, a modern suburban dwelling, a small cottage, or a contemporary family home, the companion garden can easily reflect Arts and Crafts design principles.”

For those who wish to enjoy Arts and Crafts gardens as a visitor, Tankard includes a detailed list of historic gardens to visit in Great Britain and in the U.S.

Countertop gardening

As many apartment dwellers know, container gardening can be every bit as satisfying as large-scale gardening. Thanks to a wealth of new innovative products, container gardening is easier than ever.

Shelley Levis, who writes a gardening blog called Sow & Dipity, has culled her container gardening knowledge into a book titled Countertop Gardens: Easily Grow Kitchen Edibles Indoors for Year-round Enjoyment (Quarto Publishing Group, Inc., 2018).

Levis discusses the myriad of options available to today’s container gardeners, including all-in-one systems, stackable planters, and those mainstays of TV shopping channels, AeroGardens. She also examines specialty items like “mushrooms in a box” or “potatoes in a bag.”

There are a variety of ways to grow your container garden and Levis details many of them, including vertical growing, hydroponics, and aquaponics (a complex growing system that includes both fish and plants).

Best of all, she includes a detailed list of where to buy the products covered in the book and lists blogs and websites where container gardeners can find more detailed information.