Saturday, May 18, 2013

Site-related: three things about books

I will be hosting a book giveaway for America's Romance With the English Garden (Thomas J. Mickey) in early June. It's apparently1 about the beginnings of the American garden industry, and how the English gardening style became the default style for American gardens. Not really normal PATSP fare, but it seemed like an interesting topic. If this interests you, you may wish to check out its page at Ohio University Press.

The cover:

I've added another plant to my endorsed houseplant books in the sidebar: Tempting Tropicals: 175 Irresistible Indoor Plants (Ellen Zachos). It's more or less a general-purpose houseplant book, as opposed to the Griffith book, which aimed at commercial producers, so it's probably better suited to the average PATSP reader. The main thing I like about Tempting Tropicals as opposed to many of the other houseplant books I've looked at is, Zachos has better information than most of them. Instead of the usual short and fairly meaningless care instructions most houseplant books give you,2 Zachos actually goes into some detail, as well as providing more information about problems specific to each type of plant. There are other general houseplant books I approve of to one degree or another, but Zachos is the only one I would actually recommend to someone at the moment.3

I am also still technically working on my own book, or whatever it's going to be, though it's not going particularly well. The reasons for this may include but are not limited to: laziness, depression, poor time management, excessive physical exertion related to moving hundreds of plants in and out of the house and garage every time the weather changes, bad luck, not having a clear vision of the completed project, blogular interference, over-researching, declining enthusiasm for the subject matter, low self-esteem, or some combination of the above. But I am nevertheless still working on it. Technically.


1 I haven't read it yet (only on page 42 as I write this). I received a free review copy of America's Romance With the English Garden from the publisher, though I didn't promise to review the book, so you may or may not ever hear what I think of it.
2 E.g. "Light: Bright. Water: Keep evenly moist."
3 I have not received anything in exchange for this endorsement, and in fact don't actually even own a copy myself -- the copy I read, I got from the Iowa City Public Library.

Friday, May 17, 2013

Pretty pictures: Mertensia virginica

Once again, the neighbor across the street from us has a large swath of yard covered in Mertensia virginica. The occupants have changed two or three times since we've lived here, and every time that's happened, I've been worried that the new people might decide to dig it all up. So every spring when the Mertensia blooms again, I feel relieved: they've gotten through another year. And so have I.

Most of the plants are in their heavily-shaded back yard and don't photograph particularly well,1 but there's another group on the corner under a walnut tree, of all places,2 that were willing to pose for me.

In previous years, there have been a couple plants that were blooming pink, and a few more that bloomed white; this year I didn't see any pink ones, but there are several white ones. One kind of prefers the blue anyway,3 but variety is nice.

Really what I should do, I know, is ask them for some of the plants. Or at least seeds. (They seem to be spreading: I assume that means that they're producing viable seeds.) Then I wouldn't have to live in fear that they'd all vanish some year. Though it's possible that the fear is part of why I enjoy them so much.


1 Or at least didn't this year; the set of photos I took in 2011 were from the heavy-shade area.
2 Walnuts are allelopathic: they produce chemicals (in the case of the black walnut, juglone) that repress the growth of other plants beneath them. Not all plants are affected by juglone, but enough of them are that it's a little surprising to see something as pleasant and ornamental as Mertensia shrugging it off.
3 (You know how one is.)

Wednesday, May 15, 2013

Double Hose Seven

(Via Know Your Meme.)

Monday, May 13, 2013

Pretty picture: Paphiopedilum Faire-Maud

The name makes more sense than you'd think at first glance: Paphiopedilum Faire-Maud is a cross between Paphiopedilum fairrieanum and Paphiopedilum Maudiae.