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The Bizarre and Incredible World of Plants

The bizarre and incredible world of plants by Wolfgang Stuppy, Rob Kesseler, Madeline Harley

Ever wondered what happens inside a seed? Or why some flowers are pollinated by bees, others by birds, and still others by bats? Curious what pollen looks like at a microscopic level? This book shows all of these and more, offering stunning color photographs of flowers and other plants. Gorgeous to look at and filled with scientific facts about the plants pictured, this book is enjoyable on several levels.

Small-plot, High-yield Gardening

Small plot, high yield gardening : grow like a pro, save money, and eat well from your front (or back or side) yard 100% organic produce garden by Sal Gilbertie and Larry Sheehan

Organic gardening has become quite popular in recent years, and this book is a great guide to creating and maintaining your own organic garden in whatever space you may have available. It includes a wealth of information, big picture planning and organic philosophy stuff as well as little hints that can be extremely helpful (such as: grow onions or some variant around the edges of your garden to deter pests). Even the book itself has an earthy feel, with rich soil-colored text on creamy white pages. A treat for organic gardeners of all levels.

The Kitchen Garden: Month by Month

Kitchen garden : month by month by Alan Buckingham

This book is truly a step-by-step guide to growing your own food. It starts at the very beginning with planning and goes all the way through to the payoff of harvesting. Some of the tasks listed for the winter months are suitable for those lucky enough to have a home greenhouse or coldframe, but these are easily pushed back to spring thaw for those of us without. The most useful part of this book for me, though, is the Crop Planner. It includes detailed information about a variety of edibles, and I'll definitely be coming back to this section again.

The American Meadow Garden

The American meadow garden: creating a natural alternative to the traditional lawn by John Greenlee; photography by Saxon Holt

This book is chock full of ideas for both individual plants and combinations that work well in a meadow garden. There are many grasses, both flowering and not, as well as other plants common to meadows. Many of these plants can be used in a suburban home landscape, even if you don't have room for what feels like a whole meadow. The photographs of existing meadow gardens are also beautiful and inspirational.

Earth Day Programs at CPL

We're celebrating Earth Day all week (April 18 - 23) and want you to join us! There will be events for adults, teens, tweens and children, including: Also, be sure to share your green tips and tricks with the community by posting on the Electronic Green Board.

Hack Your Living Space

Image courtesy of Flickr user CosmoComet
With a little ingenuity, some quality tools, and the right raw materials, you can create a noteworthy living/work space from scratch. Yes, you!

It seems like every blog out there has featured posts lately about making and/or hacking furniture and decorations. Here are some of the best:

Butterflies are Blooming

Spring has arrived and so have the butterflies! Visit the Butterflies Are Blooming exhibit at the Tropical Conservatory at Frederik Meijer Gardens & Sculpture Park in Grand Rapids through April 30th. You can also check out the butterflies in our collection at the library.

Homegrown Vegetables, Fruits, and Herbs

Homegrown Vegetables, Fruits, and Herbs: A Bountiful, Healthful Garden for Lean Times by Jim Wilson

One of the most rewarding things I've done in the past few years was to start growing my own veggies. It not only encourages me to eat better, it also gives me a fun way to exercise, saves tons of money on my grocery bill, and provides me with a bounty that I can share with friends and neighbors. This book is a terrific guide for how to integrate veggies into your garden or start a vegetable plot from scratch. It contains a wealth of tips and tricks in addition to the basic how-to info. I got inspired to start growing my own food by reading Animal, Vegetable, Miracle by Barbara Kingsolver.

Bulb

Bulb by Anna Pavord

This comprehensive guide to flowering bulbs is filled with useful information and gorgeous photographs. Description, historical context, and growing condition information is provided for each variety. Many bulbs are included and the book concludes with a section on growing bulbs. This book is not only useful, it is beautiful to look at. The earliest bulbs are now blooming in my garden. Are they blooming in yours?

What's Wrong With My Plant?

What's Wrong With My Plant? (And How Do I Fix It?) A Visual Guide to Easy Diagnosis and Organic Remedies by David Deardorff and Kathryn Wadsworth

This book is just what you'd expect from the title, and it's filled with brief, detailed explanations of plant problems accompanied by color illustrations of each. There is also a full-color photo gallery of problems that I found extremely helpful for seeing the difference between similar-looking problems. There are also a bunch of organic remedies, safe for use on edibles and in areas where children or pets are active. This is a book I can see myself coming back to on a regular basis.

The New Low Maintenance Garden

The New Low Maintenance Garden The New Low Maintenance Garden: How to Have a Beautiful, Productive Garden and the Time to Enjoy It by Valerie Easton

This book profiles a series of gardens, each of which demonstrate particular techniques, design elements, and themes. These gardens are stylish but completely achievable and many of them are of reasonable size - no sprawling estates beyond the reach of a suburban gardener like me.

Planthropology

Planthropology: The Myths, Mysteries, and Miracles of My Garden Favorites by Ken Druse

Druse is an author, podcaster, and lecturer on gardening, and this book features the plants he has found and loved in his many years of working with them. He writes here about many of the issues gardeners struggle with including zone denial, garden design, and native/nonnative species. Beautifully designed, this book is gorgeous to look at as well as quite informative.

Right Rose Right Place

Right Rose Right Place Right Rose Right Place: 359 Perfect Choices for Beds, Borders, Hedges and Screens, Containers, Fences, Trellises, and More by Peter Schneider

I'm an amateur gardener and roses are the plant that I find most intimidating. Gardening for me is a go-with-the-flow activity in which I try things and hope for the best. Roses have always seemed to me to be too high maintenance for my style, but after reading this book I think I may give them a try. There are certainly some lower maintenance climbing roses featured here that seem quite doable.

Perennial Care Manual

Perennial Care Manual Perennial Care Manual: A Plant-by-Plant Guide: What to Do & When to Do It by Nancy J. Ondra

This book is really a one-stop shop for just about everything you'd want to know about perennial gardening. In addition to an extensive guide to many specific perennial plants, it includes sections on designing and creating a perennial bed, caring for and maintaining perennials, and transplanting and troubleshooting problems with these long-lived plants. I can tell that this is a book I'll come back to many times.

Black Plants

Black Plants: 75 Striking Choices for the Garden by Paul Bonine

I am currently in the midst of a multi-year project of turning our front yard into a front garden and I've selected black, white, purple, and silver for my color scheme. This book is an excellent resource for choosing plants with either black flowers or black foliage. While a number of these plants overwinter only in tropical zones, there are a great many that will thrive here in zone 6. What a striking contrast they provide to plants in a more typical color palette.

Atomic Ranch

Atomic Ranch: Design Ideas for Stylish Ranch Homes by Michelle Gringeri-Brown, photographs by Jim Brown

As the owner of a ranch home, I'm quite familiar with the challenges and charms of this modest style. I'm quite happy to have a smaller footprint (both literally and in terms of sustainability) but it can take some clever thinking to make the most of limited space. The houses profiled here range from full-on retro to classic mid-century modern to sleek contemporary, and common ranch architectural features are also profiled.

Save Food, Save Money

Do you know how much food you throw away each year? Ever wonder how much that's costing you? A new website, Love Food Hate Waste, has a ton of great information about how we can save money by wasting less. There are tips for making fresh produce last longer, recipes for using up the little bits of various foods you might have left over, and you can even add your own tips and join the community of folks to discuss and ask questions.

Photo by svacher used under Creative Commons license

Time to Start Planning Your Organic Garden

It is (finally!) time to start planning your garden. More folks than ever are interested in gardening - for both health and economic reasons, and why not? It provides you with nutritious produce fairly inexpensively, it is good for the environment and it provides a great excuse to get outside and get your hands dirty. This year take it to the next step and make it an organic garden.

Pathway Pals

Get your bikes and hiking boots ready! The I-275 Pathway is receiving a major facelift in 2010. Work on portions of the trail is expected to start in the spring.

MDOT is hosting an open house to explain the planned improvements to the Hines Drive-Michigan Avenue sections from 6:00-8:00PM on Tuesday, March 2nd in the Freedom Room of the Canton Township Administrative Building on Canton Center Rd. south of Cherry Hill.

Check out Michigan Trails and Greenway Alliance for more info.

Winter Farmers Market? In Canton?!

No, you’re not dreaming! This Sunday, February 28, visit the Canton “Mini” Farmers Market anytime between 10:00AM and 2:00PM inside the Cady-Boyer Barn at Preservation Park (500 N. Ridge Rd. just north of Cherry Hill Rd.). Buy local foods and select Michigan-made products, including apples, cider, honey, eggs, cheese, grass-fed meats, jerky, smoked fish and meats, jams, baked goods, pasta and BBQ sauces, salsa — even dog treats! Also, mark your calendar for the other two “Mini” Market dates: Sundays, March 28 and April 25. For more details, visit cantonfun.org.