Sunday, 12 May 2013

Sunday May 12, 2013 Finding Natural Partnerships @ Your Library

I am not a gardener, nor am I likely to ever become one. If there is a living plant left in my care, it’s a safe bet that it will be dead within a week. That being said, I appreciate and enjoy a well-tended garden and particularly one that can produce lots of fresh vegetables throughout the summer (plans are already in place for a week of canning and preserving in the early fall). Despite this inherent disinterest in how to create a garden, the concept of companion planting is one that I have to respect. There is a scientific art behind leveraging the optimal characteristics of one plant to benefit its neighbour. And with the growing trend towards local food production, it makes sense for gardens to be moving towards a model based on effective cultivation of their components.
A quick search of the Thunder Bay Public Library’s online catalog brought three titles to my attention. One I had heard of already is Roses Love Garlic: Companion Planting And Other Secrets of Flowers by Louise Riotte (1998). This book is revered as a standard guide in planning out and producing an enviable garden. This best-selling sequel to Carrots Love Tomatoes (soon to be available at TBPL) lists hundreds of herbs and flowers and explains how to combine them with other plants in the garden to maximize the health and yield of vegetables, berry bushes, and fruit and nut trees.

A more recent interpretation can be found in Natural Companions: The Garden Lover’s Guide to Plant Combinations by Ken Druse (2012). This book will lure you in with some truly remarkable photography, an incredible amount of horticultural guidance, useful plant recommendations, and gardening lore. Druse presents plant pairings using diverse species that look great together and bloom at the same time. The book is organized by theme within seasons and topics include color, fragrance, foliage, grasses, edible flowers and much more. An appendix of edible flowers along with a literary glossary explaining the meanings of specific flower names makes this a must-read for gardeners seeking different methods to best showcase their efforts.
The Encyclopedia Of Planting Combinations by Tony Lord (2002) provides a comprehensive directory and cultivation guide with 4,000 cross-referenced combinations for successful planting. This guide is directed at gardeners of any level. Entries include ideal growing conditions for each plant and instructions for pairing based on location, soil type, climate and season. Lord has organized this hefty guide with an introduction to combining plants, followed by major sections devoted to shrubs and small trees, climbers, roses, perennials, bulbs, and annuals. This will be particularly useful for when you have a specific flower in need of pairing.
Once you’ve planned out your garden for the year (or re-organized an existing plan), check out the yard and garden building projects available through the Home Improvement Reference Center database through TBPL. To show off all your ingenious planning and planting, build raised garden beds, a firepit, or a fountain to bring the garden to new heights.

Jesse Roberts

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